The Art Galleries at Indiana University Northwest will present two very different, yet equally powerful, photography exhibits in February.
At the Savannah Gallery for Contemporary Art, the exhibit “Expressive Bodies: Contemporary Art Photography from the Kinsey Institute,” will begin a month-long run on Monday, Feb. 11. And, on Feb. 13, “Images of Native Americans: The Wanamaker Collection at Indiana University,” will go on display at Gallery Northwest, located in Tamarack Hall. This exhibit will feature a selection of early 20th-century photographs taken by acclaimed cultural photographer Joseph Dixon. Both exhibits are free and open to the public.
“Expressive Bodies,” which runs through March 7, is an exhibition of original prints from the collection of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. The show’s images survey the use of the photographic medium by contemporary artists to express ideas about sexuality and gender, or to explore the visual impact of the human figure.
“Expressive Bodies” features images from such established artists as Laura Aguilar, Erwin Olaf, Herb Ritts, Arthur Tress, Ivan Pinkava, Mariette Pathy Allen, and Robert Flynt, as well as work from other talented photographers at the start of their artistic careers.
On Thursday, Feb. 14, the Savannah Gallery will host a free reception for “Expressive Bodies” from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. This event will feature a 12:30 p.m. presentation, "Expressive Bodies: Photographic Artists Exploring Human Sexuality," by Claude Cookman, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism at IU Bloomington. Cookman researches visual communications, photojournalism editing, and the history of photography.
The art collection at The Kinsey Institute is renowned for its extensive holdings in vernacular erotic photography. The Institute actively collects contemporary photography by artists from around the world and continually exhibits artwork that provides new perspectives on sex and gender.
The Kinsey Institute, of course, is named for its founding researcher and innovator, Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, a zoologist at IU Bloomington who, in 1938, began his culture-altering research on human sexuality. His acclaimed and controversial work produced the best-selling studies “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” in 1948 and “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female” in 1953. Kinsey and his research team interviewed more than 18,000 subjects to compile the studies’ findings.
Kinsey was portrayed by actor Liam Neeson in the critically acclaimed 2005 film “Kinsey.”
In the 50-plus years since Kinsey’s death, the Kinsey Institute at IU Bloomington has continued to carry out groundbreaking research into human sexuality. The Institute’s art collection represents one important facet of this multidisciplinary research.
Catherine Johnson-Roehr, who is curator of art, artifacts and photography at the Institute, said “Expressive Bodies” has been met entirely with praise and appreciation from patrons who’ve seen it, and not with condemnation or controversy over its sexual subject matter. “Expressive Bodies” previously was exhibited at the School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Gallery at IU Bloomington and at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI.
“The ironic thing is, this is probably our least sexually explicit show that we’ve ever done,” Johnson-Roehr said. “It’s all fine-arts photography, so it has nudes, of course, but there’s not a lot of actual activity shown. Some of our previous shows have contained much more explicit material.”
IU Northwest is pleased to present the traveling exhibit “Expressive Bodies: Contemporary Art Photography from the Kinsey Institute,” on exhibit in the Savannah Gallery for Contemporary Art from Feb. 11 through March 7. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekend viewings are available by appointment.
Potentially less controversial, but no less significant, is the Wanamaker Collection exhibit, which is organized by the Mathers Museum of World Cultures at IU Bloomington. This exhibit represents some of the photographic themes of Joseph K. Dixon, who spent 15 years visually chronicling the Native peoples of the American West during the early decades of the last century. Dixon, who was funded in his many expeditions by John and Rodman Wanamaker of Wanamaker Department Stores, initially viewed Native American tribes as a “vanishing culture,” and his efforts to preserve images of their way of life on film resulted in a vast collection of photos depicting more than 150 tribes.
Dixon came not only to respect America’s Native people but also to understand that their culture, though certainly changing, was not really disappearing. He became an impassioned advocate for American Indians, spearheading a push in 1913 to establish a National American Indiana Memorial and, two years later, lobbying for American citizenship for the nation’s original inhabitants. After World War I, Dixon publicized Native Americans’ service and sacrifice on the battlefields of Europe.
The photos selected for the traveling exhibit “Images of Native Americans” were taken from more than 8,000 images contained in the Wanamaker Collection. The chosen photos represent some of the collection’s strengths and also showcase four of Dixon’s favorite photographic subjects: portraits of individual Native Americans; scenes of daily life; subjects of historic interest; and images of children.
Gallery Northwest at Tamarack Hall is located right next to Theatre Northwest. Gallery hours are Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekend viewings are available by appointment.
In addition to organizing the traveling exhibit, the Mathers Museum of World Culture is hosting a larger exhibit of Wanamaker Collection photographs in Bloomington through June 8, 2008. The Mathers Museum is located at 416 N. Indiana Ave. in Bloomington. Its exhibit hall and museum store are open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.
“Expressive Bodies” is being brought to IU Northwest through special arrangement with the Kinsey Institute. “Images of Native Americans” is being brought to IU Northwest through the Moveable Feast of the Arts at IU Bloomington. Created through a generous gift from the Lilly Endowment Inc., this program’s mission is to showcase and extend IU’s cultural resources to Hoosier communities and IU campuses across Indiana. As an institution that is devoted to excellence in arts and culture, IU Northwest is pleased and honored to present these important artistic collections to the Northwest Indiana community.
The Savannah Gallery for Contemporary Art is located on the north side of the Savannah Center, which is found in the southeast corner of the main campus parking lot at 3400 Broadway in Gary, Ind. Tamarack Hall is located at the west end of the main parking lot, adjacent to the campus police station.
For more information on “Expressive Bodies,” contact IU Northwest Gallery Director Ann Fritz at (219) 980-6891. For more information on “Images of Native Americans,” contact Anthropology Lecturer Michelle Stokely, Ph.D., at (219) 981-5601.