Opening celebration for Making a Life in Photography: Rollie McKenna & artist talk with Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and scholar Monica Bravo

Feb. 22, 2024, 4:00 p.m.

Loeb Art Center and Taylor Hall 102

Join us at the Loeb Art Center for the opening of Making a Life in Photography: Rollie McKenna, the first career retrospective of independent photographer and Vassar alum Rollie McKenna. Following the reception, we will be joined by eminent Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and Princeton professor and photography historian Monica Bravo for a conversation about photography as a creative and professional practice.

4:00 p.m.  Opening reception (Loeb galleries)
5:00 p.m.  Artist talk (Taylor Hall 102)

After graduating from Vassar College in 1940, Rollie McKenna (1918-2003) worked independently as a sought-after architectural and portrait photographer, making unique contributions to American modernism and documentary photography. During her lifetime, McKenna’s iconic portraits of artists and writers—including Elizabeth Bishop, Alexander Calder, T. S. Eliot, Laura Gilpin, Henry Moore, Ezra Pound, Anne Sexton, Dylan Thomas, and Eudora Welty—were published in numerous books and magazines. McKenna used her camera to forge an unusual path for a woman in mid-twentieth-century America toward both personal and creative freedom. Hers is one of many queer women’s stories that would be lost were it not for her dedication to preserving her own legacy. McKenna embraced photography as a way to explore the complexities of human experience—including her own.

Susan Meiselas is a documentary photographer based in New York and the author of many photography books. She is well known for her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America. Her photographs are included in numerous North American and international collections, including the Loeb Art Center. Her many awards and fellowships include a MacArthur Fellowship; Guggenheim Fellowship; Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize; and the first Women in Motion Award from Kering and the Rencontres d’Arles. She is a long-time member of Magnum Photos and has been the President of the Magnum Foundation since 2007, with a mission to expand diversity and creativity in documentary photography.

Monica Bravo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. She is the author of Greater American Camera: Making Modernism in Mexico (Yale University Press, 2021). Her current major research project, Silver Pacific: A Material History of Early Photography and its Minerals, has been supported by numerous fellowships.

This event is free and open to all. No advance reservations are required.

Vassar College, Ferry House Exterior in black and white - A white geometric building surrounded by trees.
Rollie McKenna, “Vassar College, Ferry House—Exterior,” 1951, Gelatin silver print, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Gift of the artist, 1987.53.99 © The Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation, Courtesy Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Foundation