Mexican pride shows in Center for Creative Photography exhibit
The UA’s Center for Creative Photography houses the largest collection of North American fine art photographs, with exhibits in the first floor gallery showcasing prints by some of the world’s most influential photographers.
The Lola Alvarez Bravo and the Photography of an Era exhibit, which opened on March 30 and continues through June 23, gives a haunting look into Mexico, mainly from 1940 to 1960.
The exhibit features over 100 gelatin silver prints from Bravo as well as from her students, Mariana Yampolsky and Raúl Conde from the Academia de San Carlos, and her husband Manuel Bravo. Many of the prints are from the Gonzalez Rendon Archive and the Center for Creative Photography’s own archive of Bravo’s photos.
Her photos capture the raw human emotions of mourning, anger, contentment and show the beauty of Mexico’s people and culture. One photo titled “Por culpas ajenas (Pena de muerte)” or “For the Fault of Others (Death Penalty)” stands out, showing a young woman crouching in front of a set of iron bars with a pained expression crossing her face as she looks into the distance.
In 1991, when an elderly Bravo moved out of the apartment she had lived in for more than 40 years, boxes and suitcases filled with her prints and negatives were left behind. Wellesley College senior art lecturer James Oles, who was one of the first experts to examine the collection, said “… the move was rapid, somewhat chaotic, and took place without the supervision of the one person — Lola herself — who really knew what was what.”
With Bravo’s death in 1993, the forgotten images might have been lost forever had it not been for the Gonzalez Rendon family. When they purchased the apartment in the early 2000’s, they uncovered all of the materials and recognized their historical and artistic significance.
In a recent New York Times article, Adriana Zavala, one of the installation’s guest curators said, “It was like the Antiques Roadshow when we found this stuff, went through it carefully and got an opportunity to understand Lola in an ‘unauthorized’ way.”
Zavala and fellow guest curator Rachael Arauz have since brought the Lola Alvarez Bravo exhibition to life with the help of the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y Las Artes and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes.
A book of her work, called “Lola Alvarez Bravo and the Photography of an Era,” was published in September 2012 in Mexico.
The UA’s free exhibition is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and provides the perfect summer activity for students and visitors to experience the beauty of Mexican history through the eyes of this unique artist.