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Neuberger Museum Of Art At Purchase College Presents 'Becoming Disfarmer'

Earl Lang.
Earl Lang. Photo Credit: Mike Disfarmer
Unidentified.
Unidentified. Photo Credit: Mike Disfarmer
 J.C. and Irma Dean Verser
J.C. and Irma Dean Verser Photo Credit: Mike Disfarmer
 Picola and Iola Harper, sisters.
Picola and Iola Harper, sisters. Photo Credit: Mike Disfarmer
Ed and Mamie Barger.
Ed and Mamie Barger. Photo Credit: Mike Disfarmer

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- The Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, will present "Becoming Disfarmer," the first museum exhibition in the New York metropolitan region to include examples of photographer Mike Disfarmer’s restored and unrestored vintage prints.

In this exhibition, the original function of the photographs as intimate family keepsakes will be acknowledged through an installation featuring the inscribed fronts and backs of several photographs. There also will be several unrestored portraits.

The exhibition, curated by Chelsea Spengemann, an independent scholar, is a critical examination of Disfarmer’s work as well as the first museum survey to consider the ways in which Disfarmer’s vernacular photographs have been revalued and recast. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition with essays by the curator and writers Gil Blank and Tanya Sheehan.

Disfarmer’s approach to photography was straightforward: he would position his subjects against either a plain or striped backdrop and have them stare into the camera, with the result that the focus was directly on the individual. He rarely captured them smiling. His skill was to elicit from these traditional poses consistently compelling images that are considered today to have strongly captured the spirit of a bygone era.

The Neuberger Museum of Art has organized the following programs and events in conjunction with the exhibition: Public Open House: Sunday, Nov. 9, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Free and open to the public. Panel Discussion with the Curator: Sunday, Nov. 9, 3 p.m. Chelsea Spengemann discusses how Disfarmer’s commercial studio photographs, made between 1914 and 1959 in Heber Springs, Arkansas, were revalued and recast as art twice, in 1977 and again in 2005. Panelists Hava Gurevich, executive director of the Disfarmer Project; Peter Miller, conservator of Disfarmer’s negatives; and Tanya Sheehan, contributor to the exhibition catalogue and Associate Professor of Art at Colby College, bring widely varying perspectives to the discussion.

Family Second Saturdays: Portraiture Saturday, Nov. 8, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Free) In this workshop, participants will create their own portraits, imagine a story to go with them and share them with family and friends.

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