Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory

Thursday, Nov 5, 2020 – Mar 6, 2021

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College of Fine and Applied Arts
500 E Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820

Long before such words were an active part of the contemporary art lexicon, Bea Nettles was a multi-media artist who pushed the boundaries of what was considered photography. Using alternative photographic processes like liquid light, cyanotype, Kwik Print, dye transfer as well as traditional “women’s” mediums like sewing and crocheting, Nettles integrated these into her layered and textured works, which included self-portraiture, investigations of her body and its relationship to nature and the landscape; the experience of mothering and loss and aging.

This exhibit, organized by the Sheldon Art Galleries, St. Louis and the George Eastman Museum in Rochester New York, brings together works from all areas of Nettles’ career, begun in 1970 when her work was shown in “Photography into Sculpture,” at the Museum of Modern Art. Since then, her work has been featured in exhibitions around the world, and is referenced in texts including Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being (Abrams), History of Women in Photography (Abbeville Press), World History of Photography (Abbeville Press), and Photographers Encyclopeaedia International (M. Auer, Switzerland).

Recognized for her innovations in mixed media photography, Nettles has taught photography and visual books since 1970. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Museums of Modern Art, New York and San Francisco; Philadelphia Museum of Art; National Gallery of Canada; Phillips Collection, Washington DC; International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House; and Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona. Her artists’ books can be found in special collections libraries in many museums and universities around the country. Nettles received two National Endowment for the Arts Photography Fellowships and grants from the New York and Illinois State Arts Council. Her classic alternative processes textbook Breaking the Rules: A Photo Media Cookbook influenced two generations of readers, and she has delivered lectures and workshops internationally.

A 200+ page, fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Jamie M. Allen, George Eastman Museum, Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, Director, The Sheldon Art Galleries, and Amy L. Powell, Curator of Contemporary Art, The Krannert Museum will accompany the exhibition.

Co-organized by Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, Director, The Sheldon Art Galleries, and Jamie Allen, Associate Curator, George Eastman Museum

Curated at Krannert Art Museum by Amy L. Powell, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art


Image: Bea Nettles, The Skirted Garden, 1969.