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Scholar Lectures

Photography and Civic Engagement

The Democratic Lens discussion series examines how images have shaped America’s collective memory and inspired individuals to participate in civic life. Join us on November 20, 2022, to hear from leading scholars as they discuss how the photograph influenced material culture and the evolving relationship between democracy and civic engagement.

The Democratic Lens: Photography and Civic Engagement discussion series is made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: democracy demands wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the interviews, essays, lectures, programs, reports, and website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Review Santa Fe Symposium
November 20, 2022
Sunday, 10am—1:30pm
Your Space

10 — 11AM MT

Photo of Laura Wexler

Laura Wexler

Charles H. Farnam Professor of American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University

Image © Tanya Marcuse

10 — 11AM MT

Photography & Restitution: The Civil Potential of the Image

From its inception in the decades before the Civil War, photography has helped Americans not only to see their families anew, but to imagine newly the communities to which those families belonged. Some have been enhanced; others were dispossessed. This talk will present an array of past and present struggles over the social image unleashed by the photographic age.

Laura Wexler is the Charles H. Farnam Professor of American Studies, and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale University, and Acting Co-Chair of the Public Humanities Program at Yale, where she studies the photographic reproduction of race, gender, sexuality, class, and region from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.  In 1999, she founded, and continues to direct, the Photographic memory Workshop at Yale.  Along with many essays, chapters, presentations, and reviews, her publications include Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism, which won the Joan Kelley Award of the American Historical Association, and Pregnant Pictures, with photographer Sandra Matthews.

She is currently completing Photography and Collaboration: A Potential History, examining the history of photography through the lens of collaboration, along with co-authors photographer Wendy Ewald and photographer Susan Meiselas and scholars Ariella Azoulay and Leigh Raiford, (forthcoming by Thames & Hudson, 2023).  She is at also at work on a monograph entitled “The Awakening of Cultural Memory,” analyzing photographs as sites of memory that helped to produce and resist the politics of white supremacy in post-Reconstruction Louisiana.  

From 2007- 2011 Professor Wexler was Principal Investigator of the Women, Religion and Globalization Project, supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and from the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale.  From 2010 to the present has been Principal Investigator and Co-author of The Photogrammar Project (, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, providing collaborative digital tools to explore the more than 170,000 photographs taken between 1935 and 1944 under the directions of the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information, one of the most prominent public photographic archives in the United States. 

11 — 12PM MT

Photo of Anne Wilkes Tucker

Anne Wilkes Tucker

Curator Emerita of Photography, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Image © Todd France

11 — 12PM MT

WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Empathy As A Perspective

As the war grinds on in the Ukraine, what can we learn from conflict photographs made almost two centuries ago? How do James Nachtwey’s recent photographs of Ukrainian battle sites connect with those by Matthew Brady or W. Eugene Smith? Because wars are ever-changing and ever-constant. This lecture will discuss the recurring patterns that are the points of departure for recent searing photographs.

Anne Wilkes Tucker was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she attended public schools. She received undergraduate degrees from Randolph Macon Woman's College and Rochester Institute of Technology and a graduate degree from the Visual Studies Workshop, a division of the State University of New York. While in graduate school, she worked at the George Eastman House in Rochester and at the Gernsheim collection in the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin. In 1970-71, she was a curatorial intern in the photography department of Museum of Modern Art, New York.

She became Curator Emerita at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, when she retired in 2015. She became the museum’s first curator of photography in 1976 and founded the Photography Department that now has a collection of over 30,000 photographs taken on all seven continents. She has curated over forty exhibitions including retrospectives for Robert Frank, Ray K. Metzker, Brassaï, George Krause, Louis Faurer and Richard Misrach, as well as surveys on the Czech Avant-garde, Contemporary Korea Photography, Allan Chasanoff collection, the History of Japanese Photography and a history of war photography, which won prestigious awards. Her first book was The Woman’s Eye (1973). She has written essays for many women photographers including Sally Man, Jay De Feo, Catherine Wagner, Nancy Rexroth, and Erika Dietts. She has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, The Getty Center, and the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, and received an Alumnae Achievement Award from Randolph Macon Woman's College. In 2001, in an issue devoted to “America’s Best,” TIME magazine honored her as “America’s Best Curator.”

12 — 1PM MT

Photo of Kymberly Pinder

Kymberly Pinder

Ph.D. Scholar, Curator & Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art, Yale University

Image © Eve Caughey

12 — 1PM MT

What Can’t Be Unseen: Photography and Activism

Published photos have made a significant impact on the public and lawmakers regarding Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, anti-war efforts, LGBTQ, and Immigrant Rights. This talk surveys the role of some iconic photographs in our country's most transformative political movements for racial, gender, and class equality.

Kymberly Pinder, Ph.D., is a Scholar, Curator and is currently the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean at the Yale School of Art, Yale University. She was a professor and administrator for sixteen years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before coming to New Mexico where she was dean of the College of Fine Arts at UNM from 2012 until 2019. As a community arts scholar, Pinder has been committed to community engagement and interdisciplinary initiatives. Her efforts at the UNM Art Museum at UNM resulted in an annual “all-arts day” titled ArtUnexpected, and as interim museum director, she began the multi-city initiative, PhotoSummer to promote the programming around photography and facilitated this event across NM.

Before and during her teaching career she worked in the education and curatorial departments in museums and galleries, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters in New York, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Pinder has been published in the Art Journal, Art Bulletin, and Third Text. She has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the humanities and the Mellon, Ford, and Henry Luce Foundations, among others.


Photo of Will Wilson

Will Wilson

Photographer & Program Head of Photography, Santa Fe Community College

IMAGE © Will Wilson


Will Wilson’s art projects center around the continuation and transformation of customary indigenous cultural practice.  He is a Diné photographer and trans-customary artist who spent his formative years living on the Navajo Nation.  Wilson studied photography, sculpture, and art history at the University of New Mexico (MFA, Photography, 2002) and Oberlin College (BA, Studio Art and Art History, 1993).  In 2007, Wilson won the Native American Fine Art Fellowship from the Eiteljorg Museum, in 2010 the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Sculpture, and in 2016 the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant for Photography.  Wilson has held visiting professorships at the Institute of American Indian Arts (1999-2000), Oberlin College (2000-01), and the University of Arizona (2006-08). In 2017, Wilson’s received the NM Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.  In 2020, Wilson was the Doran Artist in Residence at the Yale University Art Gallery.  Wilson is Program Head of Photography, Santa Fe Community College.

Attend in Person

Review Santa Fe Symposium, November 20, 2022, 10AM – 1:30PM MT
La Fonda on the Plaza Hotel, Santa Fe, NM.

Photography & Restitution: The Civil Potential of the Image with Laura Wexler, Charles H. Farnam Professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Yale University
WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Empathy As A Perspective with Anne Wilkes Tucker, Curator Emerita, Museum of Fine Arts Houston
What Can’t Be Unseen: Photography and Activism with Kymberly Pinder Ph.D., Dean, Yale School of Art

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