Nostalgia is an intense longing for the familiar, for home, for things or places of the past. However, it is also an act; to be nostalgic for something is to create a story or construct a myth. Nostalgia is a lens that clouds the past and can be felt by an individual, a community, or an entire nation. This exhibition brings together a selection of photographs from The Fralin’s collection that interrogates nostalgia in the United States through an exploration of imagination, identity, and mythmaking.
Although photographs are often believed to be neutral objects of documentation, it is important to remember that each image is a product of aesthetic and formal decisions made by an artist. All of the photographers featured in this exhibition are white American men and their privileged
social positions have profoundly influenced their artwork. Do their photographs reinforce or critique dominant American ideologies of white supremacy and patriarchy? Whose voices and stories do these images erase? How might these photographs be different if someone else had taken them?
While the artworks in this exhibition all explore American culture, they also touch upon universal human realities such as childhood and place. Each viewer brings their own valuable knowledge and experiences to this exhibition. When looking at these photographs, the audience is encouraged to consider their own reactions, feelings, and interpretations. As 21st-century viewers examining photographs taken thirty or more years ago, we must also question our own nostalgia and the knowledges that produce it.
Under the direction of Carol R. Angle Academic Curator, Dr. M. Jordan Love, this exhibition was curated by students from the 2019-2020 University Museums Internship class: Caleb Briggs, Sylvia Dahlhauser, Margaret Dunbar, Yasmine Figueroa-Hudson, Blake Hesson, Megan Maxson, Addie Patrick, Josie Sydnor, and Vibha Vijay.
The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is made possible through generous support from The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Arts$. We also wish to thank our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.