Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Receives Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation Grant

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is an awardee of The Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation. This two-year grant award will support the upcoming exhibition of Rollie McKenna’s works in the Spring of 2024. The exhibition will be the first comprehensive survey of McKenna’s work to date, following the focused monograph, Rollie McKenna: Artists and Writers (2001), at the National Portrait Gallery in London more than two decades ago. The project situates her work within the broader histories of twentieth-century American photography, and of photography made by women. In addition to works drawn from the Loeb Art Center’s collection, the exhibition will include key loans of photographs, contact sheets, examples of magazine spreads of McKenna’s work, and other archival material from the Rosalie McKenna Collection at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the permanent collection at the Connecticut  Historical Society, and the Archives & Special Collections Library at Vassar. This exhibition will be accompanied by a generously-illustrated publication on McKenna, the first of its kind.

Despite her prolific career as a photographer, McKenna’s work has thus far been under recognized in histories of twentieth-century art and photography. Born in Houston and  raised in Mississippi, McKenna is best known for black-and-white architectural photographs and  portraits, especially photographs of midcentury American and British writers including Dylan Thomas, Truman Capote, W. H. Auden, Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, Anne Sexton, and T. S. Eliot. In many ways, photography allowed McKenna to forge an unusual path for a woman in mid-twentieth-century America toward both personal and artistic independence. By challenging received conventions of studio portraiture, and expectations of photography in general, she embraced her medium as suited to reflect the true complexity of human experience—including her own. McKenna was unconfined to a single genre or way of working, and her body of work bespeaks a singular approach to modern photography.

In addition to support from The Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation, this exhibition is generously supported by the Friends of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Fund and Hoene Hoy Photography Fund.

September 12, 2022
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