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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Photographs of 1920s Mexico by noted artists Tina Modotti and Edward Weston will be featured in the exhibition Modotti and Weston: Mexicanidad, on display at Reed College's Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery from August 21 through October 8. The original October 1 closing date was extended so that the exhibition could be part of the citywide Photo Americas 2000 photography festival.

The 65 photographs in this exhibition span the years from 1923 to 1929, when social activist and photographer Tina Modotti and her mentor, Edward Weston, embraced the revitalizing atmosphere of the Mexicanidad movement with their personal impressions of native Mexican culture. These prints, toured by the George Eastman House for the first time, show the formal beauty and political potency of Tina ModottiÂ’s vision of MexicoÂ’s social and cultural reform.

The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery is open every day except Monday from noon to 5 p.m. The gallery is in ReedÂ’s Hauser Library. Parking is available nearby, and the #19 bus stops on Woodstock at the campus entrance. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, call 503/777-7790.

Modotti (1896-1942) and Weston (1886-1958) planned their move to Mexico within a year of the start of their romantic relationship. For the Italian-born Modotti, the move to Mexico would fix her aspirations to be a photographer, a profession for which she prepared by learning directly from Weston and managing his studio. Weston, already an accomplished photographer, recognized the chance to pursue a new direction for his work and to break with his former life.

After arriving in Mexico in 1923, Modotti and Weston were drawn to a cultural movement known as Mexicanidad, which realigned national identity with Mexico's indigenous and ancient heritage, rather than its colonial past. With the emergence of Mexicanidad came a newfound freedom and effusion of artistic expression that led to a renaissance in Mexican art.

Modotti merged her photographic ambitions with a deepening involvement in social reform and revolutionary politics. Her iconic, eloquent images of native life, while owing much to lessons learned from the Mexicanidad movement, reflect her own motivation to use the camera as a tool for social change.

Though intensely affected by Mexican cultural heritage, Weston's photographs never had Modotti's political or social purpose. Instead, the two-and-a-half years he spent in Mexico gave him the freedom to develop a new formal aesthetic. Integrating realism and abstraction, fact and symbol, Weston was guided by his Mexican experience to refine his modernist view of photography.

Modotti and Weston: Mexicanidad was organized by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film and made possible by support from Gannett Foundation.

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