The Akron Art Museum presents photographic views of the earth’s surface, up-close and from the sky, in “Micro/Macro: Views of Earth,” by Marilyn Bridges and Jeannette Klute, which opens on Saturday, Sept. 2.
Both artists featured in the exhibition were pioneering women in a male-dominated field when they began their influential careers in photography.
Klute contributed significantly to the technical development and expressive value of color photography in the mid-1900s with her meditative studies of natural subjects. Bridges creates detailed aerial records of the traces of ancient and modern human activity on the earth’s surface. Micro/Macro juxtaposes their approaches to photographing life on earth.
Assistant Curator Elizabeth Carney said, “While their photographs are quite different in terms of scale and use of color, both Klute and Bridges express a keen sense of artful composition in their work. Their work has technological and scientific value, but Klute and Bridges each insist upon the emotive, communicative and spiritual nature of their practices.”
Klute was hired by Eastman Kodak in 1939, one of few women in the field at the time, and by 1945 was head of the visual research studio in the company’s color technology division. She tested a variety of subjects and environments in her research and art, often turning to nature as a source of myriad colors and textures.
Her photographs of tide pools emphasize the colors and patterns in these micro environments, with overall compositions that express the fascination and wonder she felt toward shore life or woodlands, where she photographed small plants and animals. Klute was committed to leaving no trace on the land in the process of making her photographs, and celebrated the natural environment with her compositions.
“Klute’s approach to photographing nature in situ, without uprooting or harming her subjects, and with soft-focus backgrounds set her compositions apart from nature studies by her contemporaries,” said Carney.
Bridges photographs sites around the world that show signs of past or present human activities. Looking down from the open door of a small plane flying at an altitude between 300 and 1000 feet, her aerial photographs record a visual experience that is unlike any other. Her black and white images flatten Earth’s terrain into patterns of light, shadow and texture, but also bring attention to ancient sacred sites found around the world. Bridges is sensitive to the environmental and human factors that endanger the archaeological sites she photographs, and has said their destruction reflects that “environmental pollution affects not only modern man’s future but also his past.”
Though Bridges’ and Klute’s photographs are different, certain qualities of their compositions relate to one another. Both bodies of work draw out textural and tonal designs found in natural or altered topographies. Micro/Macro explores these similarities in a selection of photographs from the collection of the Akron Art Museum.
Carney added, “both Jeannette Klute and Marilyn Bridges use photography to increase our awareness of human connections—to each other, our planet, and the history and future shared by all life on Earth.”
“Micro/Macro: Views of Earth,” by Marilyn Bridges and Jeannette Klute, will be on view at the Akron Art Museum through March 11.
The Museum is located at 1 S. High St. in downtown Akron. For info, visit www.akronartmuseum.org. Join the conversation on social media with #MicroMacro, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Micro/Macro is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the Ohio Arts Council.