Press Room

NMWA Exhibits Work by Photojournalist Esther Bubley

Aug 05 2015

Esther Bubley Up Front brings into focus a photographer who created extraordinary images from ordinary moments

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) presents Esther Bubley Up Front, on view Sept. 4, 2015–Jan.17, 2016. Drawn from a recent donation to NMWA’s collection, this spotlight exhibition presents 27 prints by Esther Bubley (1921–1998). During America’s golden age of photojournalism, Bubley cast her discerning eye over a broad range of subjects including beauty pageants, boarding houses, schools, clinics and kitchens. Her immersive working process and compassion for her subjects yielded deeply insightful images that also subtly critique American culture on the eve of the Cold War and Civil Rights movement. She approached assignments with genuine curiosity, creating probing and enduring portrayals of ordinary lives.

Through her images, Bubley communicated the traditions and routines that shaped American life in the mid-20th century. She exercised great patience, spending time with her subjects to put them at ease and photographing them only after they stopped focusing on her camera.

“Bubley’s talent for creating probing and gently humorous images of Americans contributed to her success in photojournalism,” said curatorial assistant Stephanie Midon. “In an industry dominated by men, Bubley was one of the few women whose photographic accomplishments led her to the top of the field with work in magazines such as Life and Ladies’ Home Journal.”

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National Museum of Women in the Arts