Cincinnati Art Museum
Kentucky Renaissance: The Lexington Camera Club and Its Community, 1954–1974
Dozens of American cities witnessed the founding of camera clubs in the first half of the twentieth- century, though few boasted as many accomplished artists as the one based in Lexington, Kentucky. This pioneering exhibition provides the most absorbing account to date of the Lexington Camera Club, an under-studied group of artists whose ranks included Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Van Deren Coke, Robert C. May, James Baker Hall, and Cranston Ritchie. These and other members of the Lexington Camera Club explored the craft and expressive potential of photography. They photographed each other, captured Kentucky’s dramatic natural landscape, and experimented widely with different techniques, including creating double and multiple exposures or shooting deliberately out-of-focus images.
In addition to compiling images by these photographers, this exhibition examines their relationships with writers, publishers, and printmakers based in Kentucky at the time, such as Wendell Berry, Guy Davenport, Thomas Merton, and Gnomon Press. Kentucky Renaissance seeks to highlight the unique contributions that the Lexington Camera Club made to twentieth-century photography, thus broadening a narrative of modern art that has long focused on New York and Chicago. The exhibition asserts the importance and artistic achievement of these often overlooked photographers and their circle.