A Brief History of Looking at Ourselves
**This small gallery is temporarily closed as part of our health and safety precautionary initiative. We look forward to reopening the gallery with new selections from our photograph collection soon.**
This exhibition of portraiture celebrates photography as an expression of identity, place, and sense of belonging. Reflections encompasses nearly the entire era of photography, from the earliest 1840s’ daguerreotypes to modern day digital photographs and Instagram “selfies.”
The History of Photography
Reflections opened in 2019, the 180th anniversary of the invention of photography, and the exhibition celebrates this milestone by focusing on one of humankind’s favorite subjects—ourselves. Drawing from the Maryland Center for History and Culture’s vast photographic holdings, including daguerreotypes, salt prints, glass negatives, acetate negatives, and digital prints, Reflections examines the way portraiture has progressed over the years and the way self-representation has evolved. While technology has changed, some of the ways we express ourselves in images has stayed the same.
Looking at Ourselves
The exhibition’s curators are Joe Tropea, MCHC Curator of Films and Photographs, and Elena Volkova, Assistant Professor of Photography at Stevenson University. In addition to focusing on the themes of identity, place, and belonging, Reflections explores sub-themes that include family portraits, sports, work life, childhood, sexuality, and transportation. The exhibition highlights work from unsung and, in some cases, unidentified photographers represented in the MCHC photo and print collections.
“Reflections invites the public to consider this collection of photographs as representative of our collective experience,” says Tropea. “In the exhibition curation, we delved into Maryland’s historic records of a diverse and vibrant community and explored themes that bring us together.”
Reflections invites visitors to take and submit their own portraits to the show using a “selfie” wall. Or they can take a portrait anywhere and tag the @ReflectionsMdHS Instagram account to have photos pulled into the exhibition’s digital component.
“The idea behind this project is to invite the public to slow down and engage with photography in a meaningful way,” says Volkova. “We hope that people will appreciate how the themes of photography that exist today have history and progression.”