Cape Ann Museum presents Ladies of the Lens: Martha Hale Harvey and Eleanor Parke Custis, 27 Pleasant St., Gloucester, www.capeannmuseum.org
Focusing on photography in the Museum’s collection offers the opportunity to look more closely at two women artists who explored that medium while working on Cape Ann. Although their lives overlapped in time, the rapid pace of technological developments in photography meant that Martha Hale Harvey (1863-1949) and Eleanor Parke Custis (1897-1983) each excelled in markedly different pictorial processes
During the time that Martha Hale Harvey worked, the primary process for taking photographic images entailed exposing gelatin coated glass plate negatives to create albumen silver prints. From an artistic perspective, photographers at this time were beginning to explore the aesthetics of the medium rather than focusing on the capabilities of the scientific process, and Harvey joined in with the emerging taste for more naturalistic images in which the picture itself was viewed as a legitimate form of artistic expression. View more of her work at https://www.capeannmuseum.org/collections/artists/martha-hale-harvey/
When Eleanor Parke Custis was given a Kodak Brownie camera at age twelve, photographic equipment had evolved into a relatively small hand-held unit that was preloaded with flexible film. Custis experimented with developing her own prints and enlargements, often utilizing the “Flou-Net” (Soft-Sharp) enlarging diffuser patented in 1931 by Leonard Misonne to soften an image’s focus and create halos along shadow edges. Custis received considerable acclaim for her photographs during her lifetime and was elected an Associate of the Photographic Society of America in 1937. View more of her work at https://www.capeannmuseum.org/collections/artists/eleanor-parke-custis/
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