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Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory

July 9–October 10, 2021, Main Galleries

Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory originally opened at the George Eastman Museum on January 31, 2020, and was planned to be on view through June 14. Six weeks after opening the exhibition, the museum had to close due to COVID-19 and a virtual version of the exhibition was offered online. Now, the Eastman Museum is pleased to bring the exhibition back to our galleries for visitors to explore in person.

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. 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. It was co-curated by Jamie M. Allen and Olivia Lahs-Gonzales.

Generously supported by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, 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.

Navigation tips:

  • Wall text and images are available to view by clicking the pink and teal dots next to the works.
    • To see the work in greater detail, simply click on the image for it to expand to full screen.
    • Most books are available as PDFs within the virtual gallery. 
  • Select the yellow dots to see the GEM Kids activity prompts. 

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

Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition catalogue provides a survey of Bea Nettles’s groundbreaking mixed-media work, 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, the Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Associate Curator of the Department of Photography at the George Eastman Museum; Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, former director of the Sheldon Art Galleries, St. Louis, Missouri; and Amy L. Powell, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and with additional texts by Bea Nettles. The volume is illustrated with examples from all of Nettles’s major series, including her photographic and book works.