National Geographic photographer attends OMA exhibit
Women of Vision, an exhibition celebrating the 125th anniversary of National Geographic, is on display at the Orlando Museum of Art until April 24. The exhibit highlights eleven female photographers and their work from around the world. Video by Daniela Marin
The Orlando Museum of Art opened its doors on Jan. 22 to a visual voyage that would move visitors through global issues and cultural landscapes.
With images of conflict coverage in the Middle East taken by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynsey Addario and Beverly Joubert’s snapshots into the plight of African wildlife, "Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment" is making a three-month stop on its national tour at OMA, where it will be on display until April 24.
Launched in celebration of the magazine’s 125th anniversary, the exhibit highlights an interesting tie among some of the most compelling photographic work of the past decade, said Kathryn Keane, the vice president of National Geographic Exhibitions.
“A lot of those stories were done by women photographers,” she said. “When I look at a photograph, I generally can’t tell whether it was taken by a man or a woman.
“But photojournalism has traditionally been a man’s world, even at National Geographic. So we thought the fact that there were all these interesting stories done by women was the great reason to do a project. And ‘Women of Vision’ was born.”
Jodi Cobb, who attended the opening night at OMA, is one of the 11 female photographers featured in the exhibition.
She has worked in over 65 countries and produced 30 National Geographic stories, and was the first female to be named White House Photographer of the Year. Her story "21st-Century Slaves" is one of the most popular stories in the magazine's history.
Standing in front of her photographs at the exhibit, Cobb discussed her experience shooting the story that would bring the issue of human trafficking to the consciences of millions of readers.
“Sometimes we would go into the brothels and photograph the most horrible situations you could possibly imagine. And we’d come back out – my interpreter and I – and we’d just sit in the car for a minute and just cry. We’d just cry, and then we’d say, ‘OK, we need to do this job,'’’ Cobb said.
Despite desperately wanting to, Cobb said she couldn’t help each person she met, but she did the job because of the 40 million people who would see the story and could do something about the issue.
Throughout her career, Cobb said one goal has remained constant in her mind – to make a difference with photos that have lasting power.
“I’ve always tried to take photos that people would want to look at forever,” she said.
The traveling exhibition, sponsored by PNC Financial Services, will visit seven cities in total. Orlando marks the fifth stop on the tour.
"For businesses like PNC, it's part of our duty in the communities to support the arts," said Joseph Meterchick, the regional president of PNC Bank, Florida West. "Nowadays, they don't get a lot of support, and people notice and support us for doing that. PNC, Orlando Museum of Art and National Geographic have a common interest in women who achieve."
Describing the exhibition as an extension of National Geographic’s storytelling, Keane said that it presents, among many things, a chance to highlight some of the star photographers who are most often behind the camera.
“What we’re trying to do in this exhibition is to tell stories, to get behind the photographs and to really raise awareness about the issues that are representative of the people illustrated in these photos,” she said.
OMA's Associate Curator, Azela Santana, said installing the exhibition was a pleasure for exactly that reason.
"It was a wonderful experience... being able to put it in a way that the public is able to really engage, not only with the photographs but also the narratives that these stories tell," she said. "It gives guests an opportunity to learn about the areas that are featured and the cultural and social issues around the world."
Santana, who described the exhibition as the perfect bridge between photojournalism and fine art, said that it will additionally serve as a "segway" to the museum's other photography collections, including a contemporary art photography exhibit which is currently being expanded.
"In a world that has really been heavily dominated by men for decades, it allows us to shine light to other female photographers who are working in the fine art medium as well," Santana said.
Daniela Marin is a digital producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dan__marin or email her at DanielaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.