New Mexico History Museum

Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe

April 24, 2008


Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe

A Photographic History of Santa Fe, New Mexico November 21, 2008 – October 25, 2009


Santa Fe, NM—The Palace of the Governors is partnering with Santa Fe Community College on the exhibition, Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe, as their contribution to Santa Fe’s celebration of its 400th anniversary. The photographic exhibition opens November 21, 2008 and runs through October 25, 2009.

Since the 1850s many of the most recognized names in photography have focused their lenses in and on Santa Fe. Through their creative efforts they have documented a particular place and its visual history. They helped create that “place” and the mystique of Santa Fe. Photography has long been significant in the construction of notions of space and place, landscape and identity, and especially in Santa Fe, however malleable visual meaning may be, has helped define the geographical imagination.

Curated by photographer and educator Krista Elrick and Palace of the Governor Curator of Photography, Mary Anne Redding, Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe, examines the history of Santa Fe through the visual record created by internationally respected photographers.

Both documentary and fine art photographers were drawn to the region’s land, its peoples, the regional architecture, and the quality of light found nowhere else in the world. The project will showcase outstanding photographs that reveal the aesthetic excellence of the artists working in Santa Fe. While the images document the city, they have also been used, historically, as part of the marketing of the Santa Fe image and as a draw to other artists.

The Museum of New Mexico’s publication El Palacio, begun in 1913, published high quality reproductions of fine art photography as well as other media. El Palacio was, and still is, used by the MNM museums and the artists who traveled and worked in Santa Fe as a tool to attract more artists to explore Santa Fe for themselves as a focus for their creative work.

In 2005 UNESCO designated Santa Fe as a Creative City, one of only nine cities in the world to hold this honor. Santa Fe is home to many peoples, a destination for many more, all drawn by the aesthetics of this special place that have always been essential to the creative spirit.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe, published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, that examines the history of Santa Fe through the history of photography.


Invited Essayists:

Frances Levine, Ph. D. – Preface/Introduction

Krista Elrick and Mary Anne Redding – Curators’ Statement

David Noble – Santa Fe and Santa Feans: A Four-Hundred-year Journey

Rina Swentzell – In and Around Santa Fe: Anglo

Photographers and Tewa Pueblo People

Andy Lovato – Hispanic Identity in a Tourist Town

Mary Anne Redding – Imaging Place

Lucy Lippard – Looking Down: Senses of Place in Santa Fe

Siegfried Halus - At the End of the Trail: Santa Fe and its Photographic Emergence in the late 19th Century



Related Photos

Lower San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico, ca. 1900
Staab and Galisteo Buildings, West San Francisco Street at Galisteo Street, ca. 193334
Lower San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico, ca. 1900
Indian Detours Personnel and Equipment, Palace of the Governors, ca. 1927
El Paseo Theatre, West San Francisco Street, 1959
New Mexico State Penitentiary, Looking Southeast, n.d.

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