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Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory

January 31–June 14, 2020, Main Galleries

Due to the pandemic, the exhibition closed on March 13, 2020 and continued as an online exhibition only.

Bea Nettles explores the narrative potential of photography through constructed images often made with alternative photographic processes. The first large-scale retrospective of her fifty-year career, Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory demonstrates this celebrated artist’s experimental approaches to art-making. Combining craft and photography, Nettles’s work makes use of wide-ranging tools and materials, including fabric and stitching, instamatic cameras, the book format, manually applied color, and hand‐coated photographic emulsions. Her imagery evokes metaphors that reference key stages in the lives of women, often with autobiographic undertones, and her key motifs draw upon mythology, family, motherhood, place, landscape, dreams, aging, and the passage of time.

Nettles is a tremendously productive artist whose work has become part of museum permanent collections from coast to coast. Now, Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory provides a comprehensive look at the work of an artist who profoundly illuminates our inner worlds.

Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory is co-organized by the George Eastman Museum and the Sheldon Art Galleries, St. Louis.

Generously supported by the Rubens Family Foundation and Susan and Nathan Robfogel, and made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Virtual Exhibition

Explore Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory online now.

Download the accompanying GEM Kids Spark a Conversation card here; corresponding stops in the virtual exhibition are indicated by pink circles.

Green circles indicate an interactive video or PDF. These are also available below.

Tours & Books

Curator's Virtual Tour: Motherhood

Jamie M. Allen, Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Associate Curator, Department of Photography, discusses some of the works relating to motherhood that are featured in Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory

View Tour

Books by Bea Nettles

Explore select books featured in the exhibition as PDFs and videos.

View Books

Traveling Exhibition

The exhibition will be on display at two additional venues:

Sheldon Art Galleries, St. Louis, MO, October 4–December 28, 2019

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, November 5, 2020–March 6, 2021.


The exhibition catalogue provides a survey of Bea Nettles’s groundbreaking mixed-media photography, spanning a half century of innovative perspectives that push the boundaries of how we define photography. It presents the most up-to-date scholarship on Bea Nettles, with essays by Jamie M. Allen, Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Associate Curator of the Department of Photography at the George Eastman Museum; Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, director of the Sheldon Art Galleries, St. Louis, Missouri, Amy L. Powell, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and additional texts by Bea Nettles. The volume is illustrated with examples from all of Nettles’s major series to date, including her photographic and book works.