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CANCELLED: Seeing the West: The Legacy and Influence of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Edward Curtis on Art

Thu May 21st 2020, 4:30 - 6:30pm
Event Sponsor
Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University;
Stanford Arts Institute
Koret-Taube Conference Room
Gunn-SIEPR Building
366 Galvez Street
Stanford University
CANCELED: Seeing the West: The Legacy and Influence of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Edward Curtis on Art

The influences of Adams, Weston and Curtis on contemporary photography will be examined as later generations of artists continue to reinterpret these early works for audiences today and into the future. 


It is the intention of this symposium to bring together experts, artists and art historians to understand the historical contributions of three iconic American photographers towards creating how the American West was first introduced to the imagination of the larger public. It was through the dissemination and influence of these early photographs that the American people came to see and understand the mystique of the West. These images had a profound influence on American public policy and helped to establish photography as a contemporary art form.
The art of modern photography emerged during the early 20th century out of the Victorian Age through the innovation of innovators such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Edward Curtis.  These three pillars of American photography developed what came to be known as the modernist style characterized by the use of a large-format camera to create sharply focused and richly detailed black-white images. These photographers captured elemental landscapes, sculptural nudes, everyday objects, and vanishing cultures as a democratic approach to the representation of subject matters. 
Our symposium will examine how the legacy of Adams, Weston, and Curtis continue to exert influence over contemporary photographers today as seen in the works of Catherine Opie and Will Wilson. 


Catherine Opie, Photographer, Professor of Art, UCLA

Becky Senf, Chief Curator, Center for Contemporary Photography, University of Arizona (Tucson) & Chief Curator, Phoenix Museum of Art

Will WilsonDiné (Navajo) Photographer, Art Historian, Lecturer

Richard Meyer (moderator), Halperin Professor of Art History, Stanford University




Color headshot of Catherine Opie

Catherine Opie

Artist and Professor of Photography, UCLA

Catherine Opie’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. Her selected solo exhibitions include shows at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; St. Louis Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; along with many other galleries and museums around the world. Best known for her color portraits, Opie’s work explores the strata of our society by focusing on particular groups such as high school football players, S&M leather participants, and LGBT communities. Often politically charged, her photographs feature a central figure occupying a flattened space, highlighting her subject’s inner life through the removal of external detail. Throughout her practice, Opie investigates queer culture and personal history, creating work that is often autobiographical and informed by her experiences as a lesbian woman.

Opie was awarded a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography and was a recipient of the Julius Shulman Excellence in Photography award in 2013 and a United States Artists Fellowship in 2006.


Color headshot of Becky Senf

Becky Senf

Chief Curator, Center for Creative Photography and Norton Family Curator, Phoenix Museum of Art

Between 2007 and 2015 she curated thirty two exhibitions at the Phoenix Art Museum including Debating Modern Photography: the Triumph of Group f/64; Richard Avedon: Photographer of Influence; Human Nature: the Photographs of Barbara Bosworth; Edward Weston: Mexico; Odyssey: the Photographs of Linda Connor; Charting the Canyon: Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe, to name a few.

Senf grew up in Tucson and went to undergraduate school at the University of Arizona, studying the History of Photography.  She spent ten years in Boston, Massachusetts where she earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Art History at Boston University.  In Boston she worked on the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s major exhibition Ansel Adams from The Lane Collection, for which she also co-authored the exhibition catalogue.  In October of 2012 her book Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe was released by University of California Press.  She contributed an interview with Frank Gohlke to an upcoming volume from Bloomsbury Press entitled Before-and-After Photography: Histories and Contexts edited by Jordan Bear and Kate Palmer Albers.


Color headshot of Will Wilson

Will Wilson

King Fellow, School of Advanced Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico

William (Will) Wilson is a Diné photographer who spent his formative years living in the Navajo Nation.  Born in San Francisco in 1969, Wilson studied photography at the University of New Mexico (Dissertation Tracked MFA in Photography, 2002) and Oberlin College (BA, Studio Art and Art History, 1993).  In 2007, Wilson won the Native American Fine Art Fellowship from the Eiteljorg Museum, and in 2010 was awarded a prestigious grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.  Wilson has held visiting professorships at the Institute of American Indian Arts (1999-2000), Oberlin College (2000-01), and the University of Arizona (2006-08).  From 2009 to 2011, Wilson managed the National Vision Project, a Ford Foundation funded initiative at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, and helped to coordinate the New Mexico Arts Temporary Installations Made for the Environment (TIME) program on the Navajo Nation.  Wilson is part of the Science and Arts Research Collaborative (SARC) which brings together artists interested in using science and technology in their practice with collaborators from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia Labs as part of the International Symposium on Electronic Arts, 2012 (ISEA). Recently, Wilson completed an exhibition and artist residency at the Denver Art Museum and is currently the King Fellow artist in residence at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, NM.


Color headshot of Richard Meyer

Richard Meyer


Robert and Ruth Haler Professor in Art History, Stanford University

Richard Meyer teaches courses in twentieth-century American art, the history of photography, arts censorship and the first amendement, curatorial practice, and gender and sexuality studies.  His first book, Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art, was awarded the Charles C. Eldredge  Prize for Outstanding Scholarship from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  In 2013, he published What Was Contemporary Art?, a study of the idea of "the contemporary" in early twentieth-century American art, and, with Catherine Lord, Art and Queer Culture, a survey focusing on the dialogue between visual art and non-normative sexualities from 1885 to the present. 

Professor Meyer is interested in the relation between the academic discipline of art history and the practice of museum curating.  Prior to arriving at Stanford, he taught undergradaute curatorial courses at USC and the University of Pennsylvania, both of which culminated in museum exhibitions. 


Event Image Credit:
Catherine Opie, Rainbow Falls (2015)