Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood

September 26, 2009—February 21, 2010

Location: Bloch Building, Gallery L11

Free admission

Since photography’s inception in 1839, children have been popular subjects for the camera. We look to pictures of children as collective memories of childhood itself—a phase of life to which we can never return. This exhibition explores our fascination with childhood as it has been pictured throughout photography’s history and up to the present day.

Included are works by Lewis Carroll, Gertrude Käsebier, Lewis Hine, Helen Levitt, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Emmet Gowin, Sally Mann, Wendy Ewald, Sage Sohier, Julie Blackmon and Gloria Baker Feinstein. In a variety of ways, these photographers emphasize the many elusive constructions of childhood that fall somewhere between innocence and knowing, nature and nurture, metaphor and fact.

The modern, Western concept of childhood as a stage of life distinguished from adulthood dates to the seventeenth century, when it was first thought that children were born “innocent:” blank slates upon which society wrote its prescriptions. Today, in an age of “helicopter parenting” and media-saturation, innocence means something quite different. Cultural, economic and family structures have shifted in an increasingly globalized society, such that the social and biological parameters defining childhood have become more difficult to secure.

This exhibition explores such tensions, acknowledging the importance of childhood as a subject worthy of serious artistic and cultural contemplation.

(Top) Lewis Carroll (English, 1832-1898) Alexandra Kitchin, ca. 1868. Albumen print.  Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2008.41.8.

(Bottom) Sage Sohier (American, b. 1954) Girl being prepared for a horse show, Sandwich, NH, 2004. Chromogenic print . Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2009.37.14.

This exhibition is supported by the Hall Family Foundation. Midwest Airlines is the official airline sponsor.

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