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News Release — September 14, 2011

Wittliff Collections Open House

Open house celebrates the Wittliff Collections’ 25th anniversary exhibitions
Saturday, October 1, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

SAN MARCOS, TX — The Wittliff Collections 25th Anniversary Exhibitions, now on view at Texas State University-San Marcos, will be celebrated with something new this season: a combined open house. On Saturday, October 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., curators, staff, and the Wittliff's new director, Dr. David Coleman, will be on hand to chat with visitors and answer questions about Illuminating Texas: 25 Lone Star Moments, The Dazzling Instant, and The Edge of Time: Photographs of Mexico by Mariana Yampolsky. Authors and photographers whose works are held at the Wittliff will be invited, and refreshments—including anniversary cake—will be served. This event is in conjunction with Family Weekend and “Discover Texas State,” the university’s open house program showcasing the many things happening on campus. The Wittliff Collections are located on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library at Texas State in San Marcos. Admission to the exhibitions and the open house is free and open to the public. Click here for hours and directions.

ILLUMINATING TEXAS: 25 Lone Star Moments

A 25th Anniversary Exhibition
On view through NOVEMBER 30, 2011

From the fall of the Alamo to Willie Nelson creating his first songbook, Texas has had no shortage of iconic moments. In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Wittliff Collections, this exhibition highlights the Wittliff’s impressive reach by focusing on 25 key events. Illuminating Texas: 25 Lone Star Moments shows how the rich literary and photographic collections relate to the culture and history of the state, as well as how literary artists translate shared experience into creative legacy.

“Part of the vitality of a repository such as the Wittliff is how the archives help inform so much of our cultural history,” said Collections and exhibition curator Steve Davis. “While it’s true that the literary papers in the Southwestern Writers Collection have nourished scholars from around the world, the importance of these archives goes beyond literary scholarship. Many of our collections help interpret—and in some cases reinterpret—major episodes in our state’s history.”

The first step of Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca on what is now Galveston Island, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the rise of Austin's music scene, Waco’s fiery Branch Davidian conflict, and the launch of Apollo 13 are just a few of the other incidents the exhibition illustrates through the works of noted writers, photographers, and musicians. A “scavenger hunt” accompanies the exhibition, and visitors who complete the form receive a free pack of note cards.

THE DAZZLING INSTANT

A 25th Anniversary Exhibition
On view through DECEMBER 11, 2011

Devoted to the artistic vision of photographers working in the Southwest and Mexico, the Wittliff’s Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection was founded in 1996—ten years after the Southwestern Writers Collection. It has come a long way since, with the number of photographers growing from 61 to 188, images totaling over 18,000, and more than 25,000 negatives. Important among the holdings is what is now considered one of the nation’s largest collections of contemporary Mexican photography.

The Dazzling Instant: A 25th Anniversary Exhibition commemorates the Wittliff’s evolution in a retrospective of 95 works by 70 artists. The show is inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who wrote, “The photograph is a guillotine blade that seizes one dazzling instant in eternity.” Each photograph on display can be seen as a powerful or poetic moment, including such iconic images as Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico by Ansel Adams, Watching the Dancers by Edward Curtis, Portrait of the Eternal by Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother,” and Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal. “These are just a few of the 95 images we’ve chosen,” said photography and exhibition curator Carla Ellard, “to delight, inspire, move, challenge, or to simply offer an opportunity for contemplation.”

The Dazzling Instant also salutes the Wittliff’s past 30 exhibitions, including Little Heroes, El ojo fino (The Exquisite Eye), Testigos de la historia (Witnesses to History), and Río de luz (River of Light), and the 12 volumes in the Wittliff’s Southwestern & Mexican Photography Book Series, published primarily by UT Press, with prints by Jayne Hinds Bidaut, Kate Breakey, Keith Carter, Graciela Iturbide, Josephine Sacabo, Rocky Schenck, and Bill Wittliff.

The second book in the series, The Edge of Time: Photographs of Mexico by Mariana Yampolsky, is the subject of a separate anniversary exhibition, which is also on view through December 11:

THE EDGE OF TIME: Photographs of Mexico by MARIANA YAMPOLSKY

A 25th Anniversary Exhibition
On view through DECEMBER 11, 2011

One of the major figures in twentieth-century Mexican photography, Mariana Yampolsky (1925–2002) played an important role in building the Wittliff’s contemporary Mexican photography archive. In 1994, Yampolsky met with Connie Todd (then founder Bill Wittliff’s assistant, now director, retired) in Mexico City to discuss Bill’s idea of a Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection. Yampolsky put them in touch with virtually every outstanding photographer in the country. She also talked to the artists themselves, enthusiastically promoting the project, and in so doing, authenticated what was then a little-known repository to the Mexican photographic community.

This exhibition honors Yampolsky’s role in the Wittliff Collections' history with 60 black-and-white photographs of Mexico she created during the 30-year span of 1964 to 1994. Reflecting her lifelong concerns, Yampolsky’s images capture rural Mexico and its people with respect and infinite care. They function as works of art and as evidence of moments in Mexico’s history when ways of life that have endured for centuries faced the onslaught of modernization. The Edge of Time: Photographs of Mexico was originally organized by the Wittliff Collections in 1996 and toured with Exhibits USA from 1996 through 1999. It is also the title of the second volume, published in 1998, in the Wittliff’s award-winning book series with the University of Texas Press.