Glauber writes about Photo Secession figure
Five-year project benefits from grants, fellowships
By Paul Haist
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Portland biographer and photographer Carole Glauber, whose 1997 book “Witch of Kodakery: The Photography of Myra Albert Wiggins, 1869-1956” was hailed as ground-breaking and provocative, is at work on a new volume about another photographer from about the same era as Wiggins and who was important in the evolution of photography as art.
Glauber’s subject this time is Eva Watson-Schütze who lived from 1876 to 1935 and was closely associated with a number of photographic luminaries of her era, including Aflred Stieglitz with whom, says Glauber, she was a co-founder of the Photo Secession movement.
The Photo Secession was formed in 1902 to win recognition of photography within the broader world of art “as a distinctive medium of individual expression,” in Stieglitz’s words. Besides Watson-Schütze, the group included Alvin Langdon Coburn, Gertrude Kasebier, Edward Steichen and Clarence White, among others—names synonymous today with photography’s highest artistic achievement.
Glauber has been at work on the biography for about five years and, in the process, has been the recipient of three grants or fellowships to assist her in her work.
The most recent offer of support came from the Peter E. Palmquist Fund for Historical Research. Palmquist, a self-taught historian, lived for many years near Arcata, Calif. He died in 2003, but was long recognized as one of the foremost authorities on early California photography; he specialized in chronicling the work of women photographers.
The memorial fund created in Palmquist’s name is operated by Women in Photography International, an online resource center (wipi.org) serving the needs of a variety of professionals at work generally in photography.
The Palmquist grant will enable Glauber to conduct research at the Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, Conn. The library is home to the Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O’Keefe Archive where Glauber will search for information on Watson-Schütze. She will be in New Haven this spring.
Previously, Glauber was the recipient of a research fellowship from the Winterthur Museum located on the former estate of Henry Francis du Pont in Wilmington, Del.
The museum’s library houses the archives of the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony near Woodstock, N.Y., where Watson-Schütze spent considerable time in the early years of the 20th century and where she became involved with Byrdcliffe, the emblematic utopian retreat of the American Arts and Crafts movement. Glauber spent last August at Winterthur.
Initial support for Glauber’s project came three years ago from the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. NCIS provided a research grant that enabled Glauber to visit the University of Chicago where Watson-Schütze became director in 1929 of the Renaissance Society, a non-collecting museum founded in 1915 and hosted on the Chicago campus, although it is an independent institution.
Glauber says that the university has an extensive archive on Watson-Schütze, including a large collection of her photographs.
Glauber discovered her interest in photography at a campus exhibit while a student at Northern Illinois University, where she studied history and education. She took up the camera herself in the mid-1970s.
Recently, she has taken part in the Portland Grid Project, an exercise begun in 1995 by the Blue Sky Gallery’s Christopher Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg sliced a Portland map into 98 squares, which areas became the subjects for a number of photographers.
One writer has called the project “one of the most ambitious efforts ever undertaken to document a city through the combined visions of a group of artists.”
Besides her book projects and her work with a camera, Glauber recently published an article in the Oregon Historical Quarterly about two photographers from Portland from the same era as Wiggins and Watson-Schütze.
“Eyes of the Earth: Lily White, Sarah Ladd and the Oregon Camera Club” appeared in the spring 2007 volume of the journal of the Oregon Historical Society. It can be read on line at www.historycooperative.org/journals/ohq/108.1/glauber.html.
The Oregon Historical Quarterly article shares thematic similarities with Glauber’s first book and the forthcoming volume.
“White, Ladd, Wiggins, and Watson-Schütze accomplished so much because of their resourcefulness, determination and courage,” said Glauber. “They did not fear to express new ideas, and in the process, inspired others to do the same. Even today, they serve as examples of what can be realized by working hard at something enjoyable and striving to fulfill one’s potential.”
Glauber is a one-time high school history teacher; she taught for seven years in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In addition to her ongoing scholarship, she also has wed her interests in history and photography as an instructor at Mount Hood Community College where she lectures about the history of photography.
“Photography resonates for me because of its seemingly infinite capacity for personal expression,” said Glauber.