September 9–December 9, 2023
Curated by Tracy L. Adler, Johnson-Pote Director
Through her photographic practice, Rhona Bitner creates images that focus on the domains and trappings of performance, evoking personal and collective memory. Spanning the last three decades, this exhibition marks the artist’s first museum survey and brings together original works from the 1990s with newly produced chromogenic and archival inkjet prints in every scale from the intimate to the heroic. Bitner’s sumptuous photographs provide an intimate view of the architecturally rich interiors of music, dance, and theater venues, among other bodies of work. Beginning with a large array of prints from her “Circus” series made between 1991–2001, illuminating the art of traditional European circus acts at the close of the twentieth century, and ending with “Tour,” a four-part work from 2022 linking the worlds of live performance and fandom, the exhibition highlights the various longitudinal photographic projects undertaken by the artist throughout her career. Series featured include “Listen” (2006–18), for which Bitner traveled to and photographed 395 music venues throughout the US, exploring the history of American popular music, “Stage” (2003–8), in which classical theater interiors anticipate the rise and fall of the curtain, and the ongoing series “Pointe,” which depicts the worn toe shoes of professional ballerinas in extreme closeup and presented at a grand scale. Her work immortalizes the spaces and objects that have shaped us as individuals and as a culture. For Bitner, the intention is for “viewers to imagine themselves within the spaces and situations the work depicts so that the photographs will spark their own memories and experiences. This synergy is the pulse of the work.”
Rhona Bitner (b. 1960, New York City; lives and works in New York City and Paris) has participated in exhibitions at Galerie Italienne, Paris (2022); the Daegu Photo Biennial, South Korea (2018), Fondation Bru, Venice (2017), Musée du Louvre, Paris (2015), and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2012), among other institutions in the US and abroad. Her book Listen was published in 2022 by Rizzoli in English and French editions. Bitner’s work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, Clinton, NY; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Fonds national d’Art contemporain, Paris; Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris; and Bibliothèque nationale de France. Bitner is the recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2020), New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography (2010), and has been an artist-in-residence at Ucross Foundation, Clearmont, Wyoming (2019) and the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, New York (2010). She is currently a fellow at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York. Bitner received a BS degree in studio art from New York University.
The Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art’s programs are made possible, in part, with funds from the Daniel W. Dietrich ’64 Arts Museum Programming Fund; the Johnson-Pote Museum Director Fund; the John B. Root ’44 Exhibition Fund; the Edward W. and Grace C. Root Endowment Fund; and the William G. Roehrick ’34 Lecture Fund.
Past Exhibition Related Events:
Friday, September 8
1:00 p.m. | Virtual Tour of Exhibition
Artist Rhona Bitner and Johnson-Pote Director Tracy L. Adler will lead a virtual preview of Rhona Bitner: Resound on the museum’s Facebook channel.
Saturday, September 9
4:00–6:00 p.m. | Opening Reception
Join us for an in-person celebration at the Wellin Museum with artist Rhona Bitner.
Wednesday, October 4
4:30 p.m. | Artists in Conversation: Rhona Bitner and Nadya Bair
Hybrid Event: Wellin Museum, Dietrich Exhibition Gallery OR Online Via Zoom
For this in-person conversation, Dr. Nadya Bair, Assistant Professor of Art History at Hamilton College, and artist Rhona Bitner will explore topics related to the exhibition Rhona Bitner: Resound. Remote audiences can stream the conversation using the following registration LINK.
Thursday, October 5
4:00–6:00 p.m. | Evening of Art for Educators
Join the Wellin Museum for an interdisciplinary, educational event for K–12 teachers and administrators, highlighting the exhibition Rhona Bitner: Resound. The program will include a conversation with the artist, art making activities, and information about organizing K–12 school visits to the Wellin. This lively event will provide a forum for educators to connect with each other and learn more about the museum’s programs. Registration is requested by using this LINK.