Photography has become so easy and commonplace, especially with the invention of phones with cameras, that sometimes we forget to appreciate how wonderful it can be.
The Nassau County Museum of Art seeks to remind us with its current exhibit, “The Big Picture: Photography’s Moment.”
Wandering through the museum, whose building is itself a work of art, on a guided tour withthe director of the museum and curator of the show, Charles Riley, I was reminded of how powerful images can be.
The show ranges from a black-and-white image that is the same size as one panel on a roll of film to a practically life-size, full-color family portrait. Easily the most recognizable image in the show is Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother,” depicting the effects of the Dust Bowl on American citizens. Museumgoers can also see a tribute to children lost to the Holocaust and an eye-opening photo of soldiers charging the beach during the Normandy invasion, along with many other stunning images.
Riley explained that he liked the idea of a photography-based show because it is accessible.
“Everybody takes pictures. People sort of feel like they know the medium because they do it all the time on their telephone,” Riley said. “They even take pictures of their dessert,” he commented, to which I had to admit I was guilty. This variety of images in the exhibit serves to demonstrate how photography as a medium has developed throughout history.
“What happened about 10 years ago was those big color ones became what you saw when you went to the Chelsea galleries and Soho galleries,” he explained. “I really needed those black-and-white ones to have the historic side of it.”
As we walk around the museum, Riley’s excitement about the art is palpable. He practically runs from one side of the gallery to the other to show me another photo. He interacts enthusiastically with all the guests and tells stories about the artists and their work.
The museum is located in Roslyn on 145 acres of beautiful fields, forest and gardens which have been filled with over 40 sculptures and countless trails. It was a gorgeous February day when I went to visit, so we took a walk outside to see one of Riley’s favorite sculptures – Richard Serra’s “Equal Elevations-Plumb Run.”
“The Big Picture: Photography’s Moment” will be on view until March 5, when it will be replaced with “The Collector’s Eye,” which will include famous artworks from one collector’s extensive assemblage.
The Nassau County Museum of Art also hosts programs to get the community involved and immersed in art. These events include art lessons, nature walks, educational seminars and more. Museum members receive free admission and discounts on programs and events.
“We’ve got something for everybody,” Riley said. “And the other thing is, it shouldn’t be intimidating.”