“It hasn’t mattered who the photographer was, living or dead, acclaimed or unknown. Neither has the pedigree of the print; vintage, self-produced, staff-produced or mass-produced. All I had to do was love it.”
A closeup of an artichoke, a gritty urban subway scene, a portrait of a smiling little boy – every collection of images reveals something about its owner. Lillian Farber (1920 – 2007) was captivated with photography, its historic and contemporary processes, equipment, tools and techniques. Farber’s collection celebrates the varied ways that photographers choose to depict the world around them. She was not particularly interested in recreating a specific history of photography, but rather collected intuitively based on her personal and intellectual interests in either the artist, the time period, or the aesthetic qualities of the work. One of her greatest joys was sharing her collection with others.
This exhibition presents a selection of works from what once was a much larger collection as Farber generously gave away a number of pieces in the last few years of her life – and frankly –not all the remaining works fit on these gallery walls. Though now housed at Emerson College, and on view in a gallery setting, these works will ultimately be installed in common spaces across the Emerson campus to honor Farber’s original intent that these works be displayed as an easily accessible “teaching collection” in the places where students learn and congregate.
As part of the Emerson-Marlboro Alliance the college has received 200 photographs known as the Lillian Farber Photography Collection. Lillian Farber served for many years as the chairwoman of the Marlboro Board of Trustees’ finance committee. A New Yorker by birth, Mrs. Farber moved to Newfane, Vermont in the mid-1970s, where she became the vice president of Zone VI Studio, a small, vibrant photography equipment company. She had an artist’s eye for photography, and over the course of a lifetime built a distinguished collection that includes works by Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Aaron Siskind, Edward Weston, Garry Winogrand, Eugene Atget and Lewis Hine, among others.
In 2006, she donated the collection to Marlboro College for teaching purposes. Now, the collection will be stewarded by Emerson College. This exhibition was organized by Dr. Leonie Bradbury, Distinguished Curator-in-Residence in collaboration with Photo Historian and Affiliated Faculty Susan Doheny. After the exhibition is complete, the works will be installed throughout Emerson’s campus.