A Stitch In Time: Imogen at Cornish, Curated by Bridget Nowlin
Seattle WA – While preparing for Cornish College of the Arts’ centennial celebration last November, college employees reached out to Meg Partridge, granddaughter of famed photographer Imogen Cunningham, about using a Cunningham photo of Martha Graham, a frequent visitor to Cornish in its early years. During the discussion, Patridge revealed that the Imogen Cunningham Trust held numerous negatives of photos taken at the college that had not been seen in public for 80 years.
“In 1935, The Cornish School (as it was called then) celebrated 21 years. Nellie Cornish, the school’s founder, asked Imogen to return to Seattle to photograph the college and the students,” said Bridget
Nowlin, Cornish’s visual arts librarian. At Patridge’s invitation, Nowlin went through the Cunningham Trust’s negatives, discovering many photographs taken at Cornish never previously displayed. Nowlin also located the 1935 Cornish catalog that had used some of these images. New prints of these photos form the basis of “A Stitch in Time: Imogen at Cornish,” curated by Nowlin. This exhibition of Cunningham’s work that opens March 18 in the President’s Gallery at Cornish College of the Arts, 1000 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA.
Cunningham’s photos of student life at the school, which even then combined the teaching of visual arts and performing arts, show a wide range of activities that would look familiar to Cornish students today. Dancers rehearse at the college’s Kerry Hall, theater students ready a set and prepare lighting cues for a show, artists sketch indoors and outdoors, and musicians practice on their instruments.
“While the photograph “Three Harps” is a familiar image, the remaining photographs are being displayed in an exhibition for the very first time,” said Nowlin. “There are many beautiful moments that Imogen created of the Cornish School students as they worked and studied.”
There are 17 photos in the exhibition, including a portrait of college founder Nellie Cornish and photos of dancers Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham (no relation) taken elsewhere by Cunningham. The former frequently visited Cornish in the 1930s while the latter was a student there in 1937.
A Stitch in Time: Imogen at Cornish
The Cornish Centennial Exhibition
March 18 to June 30, 2015
President’s Gallery, Main Campus Center, 7th Floor
Cornish College of the Arts, 1000 Lenora St, Seattle, WA
Exhibition is free and open to the public during the college's normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
The gallery will be closing early on March 18, around 4 pm, to prepare for a private reception.
More About Imogen Cunningham
Northwest photographer Imogen Cunningham (1883 – 1976) was born in Portland, OR, grew up in Seattle, WA, and studied at the University of Washington. She worked in the Curtis Studio from 1907 to 1909, where she printed photographs for Edward Curtis. The only photographer who was a charter member of the Society of Seattle Artists, one of her early articles was "Photography as a Profession for Women,” an essay urging women to take up careers not to outdo men, but to try to do something for themselves.
Her work took her to Europe and across the country. In 1917, Cunningham moved to San Francisco, where her friendships included Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams. She was one of the founders of the influential Group f64. During the 1930s, she was a photographer for Vanity Fair. After World War II, she had a studio in her home on Green Street in San Francisco.
Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institute, the Library of Congress, and many major museums. More about her life and her legacy can be found at www.imogencunningham.com.
About Cornish College of the Arts
Founded in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Art, Dance, Design, Performance Production and Theater, a Bachelor of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Early Music. Since its beginning, the College’s founder Nellie Cornish, and the many teaching artists who followed her, believed in education through exposure to all the arts. This approach continues to inform the College’s curriculum and community involvement today. The College is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
The College owns or operates more than a dozen buildings in three Seattle neighborhoods. Its main campus is located at South Lake Union, where the 20-story Cornish Commons will open in 2015. The Art,
Design, Film+Media Department, the Theater Department, and the Performance Production Department offices are located on this campus. The Cornish also owns the historic Kerry Hall on Capitol Hill, built by the College in the 1920s, where dancer Martha Graham, composer John Cage, and Northwest painter Mark Tobey all instructed students. This building continues to serve today as the home of the Music and Dance departments and houses the PONCHO Concert Hall.
At the Seattle Center, Cornish now operates the Cornish Playhouse, built for the 1962 World’s Fair and originally the home of the Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Intiman Theatre. Today the Cornish Playhouse and the Cornish Playhouse Studio, as well as the nearby Scene Shop on Roy St., are the home for college programs and student productions as well as serving more than 30 nonprofits annually.
For more information, please visit: www.Cornish.edu.
Centennial Celebration Year Partners
Cornish Centennial events are made possible by the generous support of these Centennial Celebration Year Partners: Bernstein Global Wealth Management, City Arts, Hermanson Company LLP, Peterson Sullivan, Sellen, Vulcan, Inc., and Willis of Seattle.