PDN Photo of the Day

Women Photographers Seeing in Color

Women in Colour,” a new show at Rubber Factory in New York City on view until September 27 and curated by Ellen Carey, celebrates 15 contemporary women photographers working in color, including Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Penelope Umbrico and Carrie Mae Weems. Carey, whose own experiments with color Polaroids began in the 1970s, frames the show by thinking about Anna Atkins, the British naturalist and photographer who published her botanical cyanotypes in Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, staring in the 1840s. Writes Carey in a curatorial statement, “My research on the origins and history of color photography noted an absence that prompted a question: ‘Where would color photography and women practitioners be without the work of Anna Atkins?'” In Atkins’s work, Carey sees the roots of photographic abstraction and minimalism, a link she underscores by using the British spelling of color in the show’s title, she says.

The images in the show explore the intersection of vision, light and color, from Laurie Simmons’s “Doll Girls” portrait of model Ajak Deng with open eyes painted on her closed eyelids and Amanda Means’s multihued lightbulbs to Elinor Carucci’s blue-tinted close-up eye, which seems to brim with tears. As Carey writes, new research has shown that women are more likely to carry the genes for tetrachromacy, a condition in which the eye uses four kinds of light receptors instead of the usual three. The condition allows “some women an increased ability to perceptually see, [and] perhaps have a greater understanding in color,” she writes, qualities this show argues might apply to women more broadly.

Related Stories:
Mining ‘Color’s Mother Lode’
Hiding in the Curtains
Ayana V. Jackson on Carrie Mae Weems and Examining Photographic History (for PDN subscribers; login required)

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