Shifting Light offers a twenty-first century perspective on the museum’s long-term engagement with the popular medium of photography. Organized into the broad categories of place, identity, and creativity, the exhibition juxtaposes photographs in ways that amplify their meanings and suggest new narratives. Ansel Adams’ famous 1940 photograph Moonrise, Hernandez is paired with a 1975 landscape by Thomas Barrow from his series Cancellations, while Alfred Stieglitz’s 1918 portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe keeps company with images by Anne Noggle and Joyce Neimanas.
Using portraits and oral histories, the show introduces some of the personalities in New Mexico’s twentieth-century photography scene, such as artist Laura Gilpin and curator Beaumont Newhall. Collectors, another integral part of the photography community, are represented by a changing selection of promised gifts that are pledged as future additions to the museum’s collection. Visitors are invited to write or draw their own memories, favorite photographs, and other responses to the show. Vintage exhibition announcements, brochures, and publications tell a complementary story of photography’s growing prominence at the museum from the mid-1920s to the present.
The exhibition closes with work that challenges perceptions about photography and suggests future directions, including its changing role in museums.