Object Lessons

Object Lesson: Photographers Tina Modotti and Lola Alvarez Bravo and Mexican Modernism

This week, as NOMA turns its focus towards themes of connection, we are thinking about how human relationships shape artists’ careers, and how we can use those connections to interpret different artworks. In Mexico City during the 1920s and ‘30s, art flourished and grew thanks to the creative, romantic, and political relationships between artists in… Read More

Object Lesson: Cellblock 6, Ramsey Prison, Texas by Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon took his first photography gig when he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization of young activists that orchestrated sit-ins and carried on the Freedom Rides during the Civil Rights Movement. With leader James Forman and other photographers, Lyon helped make photography an important part of SNCC’s strategy by documenting the… Read More

Object Lesson: Fresh Water Line, Flood Victims, Louisville by Margaret Bourke-White

In the winter of 1937 the Ohio River overran its banks and flooded the land between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cairo, Illinois, killing almost four hundred hundred people and displacing approximately one million. Communities in the path of the floodwaters were already struggling in the depths of the Great Depression, and few cities were more inundated… Read More

Object Lesson: Francis Nakai and Family by Laura Gilpin

Through the course of the nineteenth century, white photographers making portraits of Native American sitters generally framed their subjects in stereotypical ways that exoticized their culture. Many of these photographs augmented the myth that Native American populations could not assimilate into white society and were destined to disappear. Such parallel ideas were often evoked to… Read More

Object Lesson: Frontlet Headdress of the Bella Coola Peoples

The Bella Coola Peoples of Canada’s Pacific Northwest, also known as the Nuxalk are renowned as carvers, with a mask-making tradition that includes physical representations of supernatural beings with animal-like features of species common to the tribe’s home region, including owls, killer whales, ravens, and wolves. This headdress in NOMA’s Native American art collection depicts an predatory bird. Read More

Object Lesson: Coal, A Story in Pictures

As NOMA considers the various aspects of sustainability this week, this three-picture story looks at an unsustainable resource and practice: coal and its extraction. As an unrenewable fossil fuel that remains the number one source of carbon emissions globally, the reliance on coal is unsustainable, but so is the human toll that its extraction exerts…. Read More

Object Lesson: Photographers focusing on faith

NOMA’s vast collection of photography includes numerous examples of religious practices captured on film. Featured here are eight selections —ranging from an evangelistic preacher in 1930s-era Harlem to Muslim women in mid-century Kashmir — chosen by Brian Piper, Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator for Photography, and Russell Lord, Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, Prints, and Drawings…. Read More