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Who Are We? Identity and the Contemporary Photographic Portrait

Saturday, December 02, 2017,

  • Location: Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery • 1220 21st Avenue South • Nashville, TN 37203

Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday 11am - 4pm, Weekends 1-5pm 

(closed October 12-15 for Fall Break and November 18-26 for Thanksgiving Break)

An exhibition of contemporary photographic portraits opens the fall exhibition season at the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery on September 11, 2017. WHO ARE WE? IDENTITY AND THE CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT examines how, in our image-saturated world, photographs have increasingly played a primary role in shaping identity.An opening reception will be held on Friday, September 15 from 5 to 7 pm in conjunction with Vanderbilt Parents’ and Family Weekend and Fall for the Arts. The exhibition will be on view through December 7, 2017.

As noted by Joseph Mella, director and curator, “Portraits, in all their diversity, serve not only the needs of the sitter and artist, but also those of the viewer. Portraits give us clues to who we are as humans and the possibilities of what we could become.” Instagram and other forms of social media dominate the cultural landscape while the reliance on photography in our own lives increasingly presents questions about representation and identity that artists continue to navigate in surprising ways. Who are we, indeed, and what do we wish to become, and just how easy can it be to craft our own identities?

The first in a three-part series on portraitureWHO ARE WE? IDENTITY AND THE CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director, with support provided by The Ingram Commons and Leslie Cecil and Creighton Michael, MA’76.


Image credit: 

Andres Serrano (American, b. 1950)

Jewel-Joy Stevens, America’s Little Yankee Miss, from “America Now + Here,” 2003

Digital chromogenic print

24” x 20”

Gift of Melissa and Scott Tannen, both BA’99

Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery Collection

Courtesy Andres Serrano