press release

Cincinnati Art Museum presents the first major museum survey of the Lexington Camera Club’s artistic achievements in the new exhibition Kentucky Renaissance: The Lexington Camera Club and Its Community, 1954–1974. More than 150 photographs, books, prints and other objects made in and around Lexington, KY, are on view through January 1, 2017.

Kentucky Renaissance focuses on the importance of community, revealing friendships and mentorships among Lexington photographers, artists and writers. The exhibition also underscores the artistic achievement of these often overlooked photographers and highlights the importance of regional photography clubs to the history of photography.

From the 1950s onward, Lexington Camera Club members explored the craft and expressive potential of photography with remarkable results. They captured Kentucky’s dramatic natural landscape and experimented with different techniques, such as making multiple exposures and shooting deliberately out-of-focus images.

Ralph Eugene Meatyard is the most esteemed artist affiliated with this group. This exhibition sets his art within an unprecedented examination of his mentors, peers and friends in the Lexington Camera Club during the third quarter of the 20th century. In doing so, the exhibition notes the influence this club had not only on Meatyard, but on developing a modernist sensibility blended with Southern culture.

In addition to Meatyard, the photography of Van Deren Coke, Robert C. May, James Baker Hall and Cranston Ritchie, among others, are presented. Kentucky Renaissance reaches beyond the realm of photography to reveal connections to literature. Writers Guy Davenport, Wendell Berry and Thomas Merton are included or depicted in the show, and the influence of regional publishing enterprises like the Jargon Society and Gnomon Press is also acknowledged.

Kentucky Renaissance is accompanied by an in-depth catalog by former Cincinnati Art Museum Curator of Photography Brian Sholis, co-published with Yale University Press. It includes a contribution by famed literary essayist and Kentucky native John Jeremiah Sullivan, who comments on the Lexington Camera Club’s place in the canon of Kentucky artists and writers.

This exhibition is generously supported by FotoFocus, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). It is on display on the left side of the Western & Southern Gallery (G232). Tickets to Kentucky Renaissance include admission to Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth.