CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts Presents More American Photographs

The CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts presents More American Photographs on view through December 17, 2011.

As the United States slowly recovers from its most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression, the CCA Wattis Institute’s More American Photographs exhibition reexamined the well-known photography program of the Farm Security Administration, which lasted from 1935 to 1944. The 250,000 FSA images are a vast and compelling visual record of American life in the 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition paired historic FSA photographs with newly commissioned works by 12 contemporary photographers, who, like the FSA photographers, were asked to travel the United States and document its land and people.

Catherine Opie, “Bravo,” 2011. Chromogenic print, signed and numbered edition of 100, 11 x 17 inches, Courtesy the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Five of the contemporary artists in the show—Walead Beshty, Larry Clark, Sharon Lockhart, Catherine Opie, and Collier Schorr—have created new limited-edition works that directly relate to their photographs in the exhibition. These editions are available now at

Following Roy Stryker’s method of editing, Walead Beshty asked Wattis Institute director Jens Hoffmann to “kill” two of his photographs. The two pictures, taken in Allen, South Dakota (the nation’s poorest city) and Fisher Island, Florida (the nation’s wealthiest city), expose the economic disparity between the two regions.

Larry Clark undertook a road trip from Los Angeles to the rural art oasis of Marfa, Texas, to continue his exploration of American subcultures. In Marfa, Clark captured his subjects’ apathy and subversive allure.

Catherine Opie’s documentary photography primarily focuses on community and identity in contemporary America. For More American Photographs, she photographed shopkeepers in her neighborhood. In these intimate portraits, the entrepreneur and his or her enterprise are inextricably linked.

Sharon Lockhart’s anthropological sensibility leads her to spend months, even years, working with a single community. For More American Photographs she spent time with cattle ranchers in Tulare County, California, investigating the local landscape and agricultural economy.

Collier Schorr continued her exploration of the point at which masculinity meets adolescent tenderness and fragility. In her picture, the expression of a young cowboy conjures both innocence and affectations of manhood.

The Wattis Institute’s edition program offers limited releases by some of today’s most significant established and emerging artists, including Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Tim Lee, Roman Ondák, Paul McCarthy, and Mario Ybarra Jr. For direct sales and additional information please contact Micki Meng at or 415.703.9521. Proceeds directly support the ongoing realization of the Wattis Institute exhibition program.

About the CCA Wattis Institute

The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts was established in 1998 in San Francisco at California College of the Arts. It serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of international contemporary art and curatorial practice. Through groundbreaking exhibitions, the Capp Street Project residency program, lectures, symposia, and publications, the Wattis Institute has become one of the leading art institutions in the United States and an active site for contemporary culture in the Bay Area.

More American Photographs is traveling to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, March 1–June 3, 2012, and to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, January 26–April 7, 2013.

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
California College of the Arts
Kent and Vicki Logan Galleries
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco CA 94107-2247
T 415.551.9210

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