Now and Then In Photography

NOW and THEN is a new monthly series by Jim Austin, MA. This series explores current events in photography that connect us to photography’s fascinating history.

Our subject is the exhibit On Land and On Sea: A Century of Women in the Rosenfeld, which exquisitely details the lives of women workers, caregivers and sportswomen in the 20th century.

Taking an inside look at the art of the Rosenfeld Collection, the largest single collection of maritime photographs in the world, we open a door to the past with exquisite images by Morris Rosenfeld and Sons in New York, curated by Margaret L. Andersen Rosenfeld.

Margaret L. Andersen Rosenfeld is a sociologist, women’s studies professor, and the author of the book On Land and On Sea. Her book which features 140 photographs from the Rosenfeld collection.

Dr. Andersen compiled this series of photographs for the book, and chose 70 of them to display at Mystic Seaport’s Schaefer Gallery, where I was fortunate to see these quality images from a variety of formats such as glass plate negatives to color transparencies, glossy prints, and photographic murals.  The exhibit launched at the start of Women’s History Month on March 4th, 2017.

“I think each viewer will learn something different from this collection because the images are so rich.” ~ Margaret Andersen Rosenfeld

Margaret Andersen Rosenfeld adds: “I wanted to tell a story of women’s lives in the twenties wanted to expose a part of the Rosenfeld Collection that I think people are very unaware of.

The photographs in On Land and On Sea are those that I have compiled to show some of the different dimensions of women’s lives over the course of the twentieth century. Within the Rosenfeld Collection, you can find many images of different aspects of American social life.

There is much to learn here, especially if seen with an eye to understanding women’s history  and the unique place of women in maritime history. But you have to see the photographs in the context in which they were taken and not attempt to generalize beyond the scope of what is available.”

This exhibit includes photographs of aviatrices, working women on roller skates, suffragettes, athletes, car drivers, speedboat drivers, sailors, nurses, social workers, teachers and more. The women are shown in a myriad of ways in the exhibit. The panels in the exhibit are taken word- for- word from Margaret Andersen Rosenfeld’s book On Land and On Sea.

The film photographers of the “Rosenfeld lens” captured images of women at home, with the American Red Cross, in the streets and even aboard the New York City Floating hospital.  Some of the images were first published in magazines and in newspapers that covered patriotic gatherings.

Considered as a series, these photographs offer a unique view of 20th-century women both at work, with family, and at leisure. Many of the women depicted appear to be average people who were photographed at work, often not looking at the camera as they got the job done. Some worked on their own boats, in boat yards on City Island in the Bronx where Morris Rosenfeld had his family home.

Morris “Rosey” Rosenfeld blended an artistic eye with commercial interests. His life spanned eras in photography from wet plates, most with an ASA/ISO speed under 10, to faster films with film speeds of 4,000 ASA or more. He demanded excellence from himself and with his photography. The quality of the prints must be seen to be appreciated.

This special On Land and On Sea exhibit can be experienced at Mystic Seaport through September,2017.

AUTHOR :  Jim Austin MA. Jim is an adventure photographer. His images have won a string of awards, including Nature’s Best in the Smithsonian Museum. He is teaching and photographing in Nova Scotia for summer, 2017.

LINKS:

www.mysticseaport.org

History

 

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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