El Museo Latino is hosting “Three Generations of Women Photographers,” an exhibit featuring photography from three Mexican photographers documenting different eras in Mexican history.
Magdalena García, the founder and director of El Museo Latino, is a University of Nebraska at Omaha graduate, and she encourages students and faculty to visit the exhibit before its final day on March 10.
“Through these samples, we can trace not only photography but the artists themselves and what was going on at the time,” García said.
Each artist on display has captured a different slice of Mexican history through the same medium, but their styles and subjects are distinct from one another.
The oldest photographer in the gallery, and the one representing the “first generation” is Lola Áva-rez Bravo. Born in 1903, her photography captures the rebuilding of Mexican culture following a decade long civil war.
“She was a pioneer in women’s photography in Mexico,” García said. “First one to become a professional photographer.”
According to García, Ávarez Bravo’s work was groundbreaking due to its depiction of people in everyday life. She didn’t pose her subjects for photos. Instead, she insisted on capturing people in their natural environment. Additionally, her work featured unique use of shadows and urban structures.
The next photographer featured in the exhibit is Mariana Yampolsky. She was born in Chicago, Illinois to a German-Jewish family that immigrated to America while fleeing anti-Semitism. After graduating from the University of Chicago, she moved to Mexico to continue her studies.
Yampolsky became enthralled with Mexico and ended up spending the rest of her life in the country. She became a Mexican citizen in 1954.
“It’s interesting that it took some-one coming from the outside to appreciate the indigenous beauty,” García said. “Here you have many of the indigenous documented in her works.”
García said that Yampolsky’s photography documents the arts renaissance that took place in the decades following the Mexican Revolution. Mexican arts in the 1930s and 1940s radically changed in many ways.
The final photographer featured in “Three Generations of Women Photographers” is Cristina Kahlo. Of all the photographers with work on display, Kahlo is the only one still alive. Her work is a contemporary documentation of Mexico, particularly festivals and celebrations in rural areas across the country.
García said that Kahlo’s work is unique in today’s photography scene because of her technique. Despite the variety of modern photography methods, Kahlo chooses to use the same classic film development method used by her predecessors. Completely free from computer editing, her work is a raw look at modern Mexican culture.
“Many of the young artists that can manipulate and do all kinds of techniques on the computer now want to know how the development process really is,” García said.
Sharing a gallery space with “Three Generations of Women Photographers” is also a collection of photos from the Mexican Revolution. These photos depict the soldiers, civilians and politicians involved and impacted with the armed conflict that gripped Mexico for a decade.
More information about El Museo Latino can be found on their website: www.elmuseolatino.org