Lost and Found: Stories for Vernacular Photographs

13 December 2019 - 12 January 2020

     

Since 2017, the Ackland Art Museum has worked with noted UNC alumnus and collector Robert E. Jackson (MA, ’78) to assemble a collection of vernacular photography. Vernacular photographs are those that are made by individuals, typically presumed to be non-artists, for a wide variety of reasons, including snapshots of everyday subjects taken for personal pleasure. When collected, vernacular photographs typically lack contextual information—basic identifiers such as the names of the subjects, locations, and photographers, as well as the dates the photos were taken—and are, therefore, often discussed and appreciated solely in terms of technique, aesthetic composition, and their amateur or “outsider” status. Lost and Found: Stories for Vernacular Photographs flips this script, inviting the public to supply narratives for the exhibited snapshots. Just as these vernacular photographs themselves—relegated to flea markets, thrift shops, and eBay—are rediscovered by avid collectors and institutions, so, too, can the lost contexts and narratives of these photos be “found” by newly created stories and captions.

Of the seventy photographs in the exhibition—their formats as wide-ranging as cyanotypes and Polaroids—a selection of twenty were part of a “context contest” that was open to the public in advance of the exhibition opening. Once the exhibition opened, individuals were encouraged to submit captions and short stories in response to all 70 of the images online or in the gallery. Selected captions and stories were displayed alongside their generative photographs, with an invitation to all museum visitors to add their own responses to these works. While the original stories behind them may never be known, Lost and Found invites viewers to celebrate the potential of these vernacular photographs to stimulate our collective storytelling imagination.

Click here to read the winning submissions!

This exhibition is funded in part by a grant from Arts Everywhere.

Click on the arrow above to hear about the exhibition.

Click here to watch a video story about the exhibition on Spectrum News.

LOST AND FOUND Public Programs

2nd Friday ArtWalk
December 13, 2019

LOST AND FOUND CAPTION AND Story Contest

The contest closed on January 5, 2020. You may continue to submit your entries to be posted in the gallery through January 12, 2020. Click here to read the winning submissions!

Contest Instructions:

Select one photo from this list of 70 (also pictured below) that will be displayed in the exhibition, then write a photo caption (up to 50 words) or a story (50-300 words) to bring the photo to life! There are no restrictions on the form or content of your story, so be creative! You are welcome to submit more than one caption or story.

While we respect the creative autonomy of all artists, the Ackland reserves the right to edit submissions for propriety.

Deadlines:

Early bird deadline: December 8, 2019, 11:59 p.m.

Submissions before the early bird deadline will be considered for the early bird grand prize, AND they will also continue to be considered for all other prizes awarded at the conclusion of the exhibition. Early bird submissions are also the only way to guarantee that your submission is displayed within the exhibition galleries throughout the entire run!

Final deadline: January 5, 2020, 11:59 p.m.

Rolling submissions will be accepted through the end of the exhibition to be considered for all other prize categories. We will update the gallery displays with new stories as we receive them.

Prizes:

Early bird grand prize: $200 credit to the Museum Store

Twenty-four prizes to be awarded at the end of the exhibition:
In categories for under 18, 18+, UNC student, and UNC affiliate
For each of 2 submission formats: photo captions (fewer than 50 words) and stories (50-300 words)

1st place: $100 credit to the Museum Store

2nd place: Individual membership to the Ackland

Honorable mention: A copy of Fortune Smiles: The Tyche Foundation Gift, a collection catalogue including creative responses to the Ackland’s collection by NC author Allan Gurganus

Notifications:

Authors who submit before the early bird deadline will be notified of the outcome of their submission on December 13. Authors who submit before the final deadline will be notified by January 10.

Photo Gallery:

Lost and Found includes a total of 70 photographs. We displayed 20 of them here in advance of the exhibition opening for online early submissions. We will continue to accept submissions relating to all 70 photographs online and in the gallery through January 5!

 


Image credits:

1: Unidentified artist, American, Group of Men Fighting, 1890s or 1900s?, cyanotype, 5 5/16 × 4 5/16 in. (13.5 × 10.9 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.8.

2: Unidentified artist, American, Woman Sticking Out Tongue, 1950s, gelatin silver print, 4 1/2 × 2 3/4 in. (11.4 × 7 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2017.24.13.

3: Unidentified artist, American, Women at the Zoo, c. 1909, gelatin silver print, 4 1/8 × 5 1/4 in. (10.5 × 13.3 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.9.

4: Unidentified artist, American, Children with Photo in Hand, 1980s, chromogenic color print, 3 3/8 × 3 1/4 in. (8.6 × 8.3 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2017.24.18.

5: Unidentified artist, American, Girl in Cinderella Costume, 1960s?, color photographic print, 3 13/16 × 4 11/16 in. (9.7 × 11.9 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.24.

6: Unidentified artist, American, People in Car, 1940s?, gelatin silver print, 3 7/8 × 5 1/2 in. (9.9 × 13.9 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.14.

7: William T. Ross, American, active 1880s–1890s, A Group of Seven Women Eating Cherries, 1880s-90s, cabinet card photograph, 4 1/4 × 6 1/2 in. (10.8 × 16.5 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2019.33.10.

8: Unidentified artist, American, Boys Sleeping, 1920s, gelatin silver print, 3 3/16 × 4 1/4 in. (8.1 × 10.8 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2017.24.1.

9: Whalen Photographic Studio, American, active late 19th to early 20th century, Gentleman of the Jury, late 19th to early 20th century, cabinet card photograph, 4 1/4 × 6 1/2 in. (10.8 × 16.5 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2019.33.27.

10: F. Lewis, American, active late 19th to early 20th century, Photographs of a Woman and Man Spliced Together, 1880s or 1890s?, gelatin silver print on carte-de-visite, 4 5/8 × 2 15/16 in. (11.7 × 7.4 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.1.

11: Unidentified artist, American, Double Exposure of a Man and a Group of Women, late 1980s/early 1990s, color photographic print, 4 7/8 × 3 7/16 in. (12.4 × 8.7 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2017.24.19.

12. Frank Wendt, American, active c. 1899, Man with Three Legs, c. 1899, cabinet card photograph, 6 7/16 × 4 1/4 in. (16.4 × 10.8 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2019.33.33.

13: Unidentified artist, American, Men Climbing Smoke Stacks, 1930s, gelatin silver print, 3 3/8 × 2 3/8 in. (8.6 × 6 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2017.24.4.

14: Charles A. Saylor, American, 1838–1921, Portrait of a Dog, 1880s-90s, cabinet card photograph, 6 7/16 × 4 3/16 in. (16.4 × 10.6 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2019.33.47.

15: Unidentified artist, American, Girl Throwing Football, 1971, color photographic print, 3 7/8 × 5 7/16 in. (9.9 × 13.8 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.27.

16: Unidentified artist, American, Man Blowing Bubble Gum, 1960s?, gelatin silver print, 3 1/4 × 4 1/4 in. (8.3 × 10.8 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.26.

17: Unidentified artist, American, Woman and Mirror, 1940s, gelatin silver print, 4 1/2 × 2 3/4 in. (11.4 × 7 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2017.24.7.

18: Unidentified artist, American, Portrait of a Woman, 1940s?, hand-tinted gelatin silver print, 4 7/8 × 3 3/8 in. (12.4 × 8.6 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.17.

19: Unidentified artist, American, Couple Wearing Swimming Masks, 1940s/early 1950s, gelatin silver print, 4 1/2 × 2 3/4 in. (11.4 × 7 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2017.24.11.

20: Unidentified artist, American, Group with a Snowman, 1890s or 1900s?, cyanotype, 4 5/8 × 4 1/8 in. (11.7 × 10.4 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2018.23.7.