A Collection of Contemporary Photography

A night at the Telfair Museums Jepson Center, viewing a photography exhibit. What does it all mean? Apart of the Photography’s Last Century: The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection. It is on view from February 17th to May 21st, 2023. This post contains photos of artistic nudity.


Kate Lacivita

3/28/20234 min read

Last week I got to experience the photography exhibition at the Jepson Center here in Savannah, GA. I have not been to many photography only exhibitions, so I was really excited to experience this one. I had also heard so many great things about it from many different people, both at school and work, so I was eager to go.

I do not have a whole lot to say, other than I felt at ease in the space. It was not very bright (which I loved, I am sensitive to bright lights) so it made viewing the art feel more intimate to me. The photographs themselves were a variety of subjects, but one stuck out to me the most. The focus on the human body. To me, it was captured in a way that drew attention to its beauty without over-sexualizing any one singular part of it.

Growing up, when I was hell-bent on being an artist myself, I focused a great deal on the human body. The hair, the clothes surrounding it, the subtle curves, bends and folds; I loved everything about it. I loved how I could perfect it through the way I viewed it. I could see the beauty in people around me. How unique we all were. Not just in appearance alone either. I loved how I could tell individual footsteps of the ones I cared about apart, how they smiled and perhaps one eye would close ever more slightly than the other. Humans, to me, were beautiful creations that I wanted to replicate in my own little drawn worlds, as however I saw fit to do so.

Richard Avedon. Andy Warhol and Members of the Factory, New York City, October 30th. 1969. Gelatin silver print. Private Collection

Carlo Mollino. Detail of Untitled (Nudes, Villa Zaria, Turin). 1962-1973. Three instant color prints. Private Collection.

Laurie Simmons. Splash. 1980. Silver dye bleach print. Private Collection.

Mickalene Thomas. (If Loving You is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right. 2006. Gelatin silver print. Private Collection.

Looking at these photographs, I felt that in a way these artists saw the human figure the same way I once did, and still do. The photographs that stuck with me the most were the ones that focused on human emotion, interaction, intimacy and beauty.

However, the exhibition left my husband confused and unable to grasp any of the messages that the artists were trying to get across through their works. It also leads to the question, is there always a message that must get told to its viewer? Should there always be some grand lesson to be learned when experiencing artwork? What if art, and museums, were meant to house tranquility, contemplation and inquisitiveness, rather than answers.

When I walk into a gallery or museum, I have always felt as though I was entering a place that would give me answers to questions like, ‘How can I be more imaginative in life?‘ or ‘How can I see my own place in the world to be one that harbors good?’ or ‘What is my place in the world anyways?’ or ‘How is it that others seem to have everything figured out and work for them, but I don’t?’

I never leave with those answers, and I certainly always leave with more questions than when I came in. But, I always leave knowing more than when I walked through the front door.

This exhibition had me leave feeling more attune with my inner childhood artist than I previously have. I think about her sometimes, well a lot. I would always carry around a digital camera trying to capture the beauty of nature around my childhood home. I would create fantasy worlds in my bedroom and spend hours editing the photos online to capture what my imagination was seeing. I would make tiny clay pots and string them together with thread, just to take the most obscure photograph displaying nothing other than pure aesthetic imagery. There was no grand message behind those images. I would draw countless figures of women and men with different clothing, eyes, hair, hands. She was a girl of immeasurable creativity that seemed to blossom out of thin air.

I often wonder, where did she go?

Photography’s Last Century: The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection

February 17th-May 21st, 2023

Jepson Center for Contemporary Art, Savannah Georgia

Contains a variety of artists listed

UMBO. Tea for Two. 1935. Gelatin Silver Print. Private Collection.

The ones I posed here were some of my favorites in the show. I took these photos, but do not own any of them. They are at display at the Telfair Museums Jepson Center until May 21st, 2023.