Dody Weston Thompson: A Life in Words and Pictures

The work of Thompson, a major figure in the West Coast Photographic Movement, appears at the Clark.

Edward Weston for Website @ 150 dpi

Lifetime Works of Aperture Founder
On Display at Scripps College

From April 18 through May 16, visitors will see the West Coast Photographic Movement through the lens of Dody Weston Thompson, a defining figure in the movement that included Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Long overlooked as an artist, Weston Thompson’s work has not been frequently displayed. In fact, the photos in Dody Weston Thompson: A Life in Words and Pictures have never been shown together. The exhibition, held at the Clark Humanities Museum, located in the Humanities Building at Scripps College, will give a sense of the artist’s six-decade-long career. The museum is open from 9 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Helen Harrison, senior lecturer, Film Program and Department of Communication, Central Washington University, gave a Gallery talk on the life and career of Dody Weston Thompson, in the Clark Museum, on Monday, April 18, at 2:30 p.m, which will be followed by a reception at 3:15 p.m.

Weston Thompson, a student of Edward Weston’s and an assistant to Ansel Adams, eventually became a major figure in the West Coast Photographic Movement, which was championed by Weston and Adams as well as other renowned photographers such as Imogen Cunningham and Minor White. The exhibition examines Weston Thompson’s work throughout her lifetime, shown alongside pieces by her contemporaries. This celebration of Weston Thompson’s life as an artist comes about as the result of a gift of the artist’s complete works and archives to Scripps College.

A founding member of Aperture magazine, Weston Thompson’s influence has largely been attributed to her articles in that publication and to her writing on the subject of Edward Weston, yet her photography was recognized among aficionados. In a career spanning 59 years, Weston Thompson earned the prestigious Alfred M. Bender Award for Photography (preceded only by Ansel Adams). Through her writing, she is well known for articulating the goals of the West Coast Photographic Movement, including an emphasis on sharp focus and unique perspective⎯a rejection of the romantic and blurred images of the earlier Pictorialist style. Popular primarily during the 1940s and 1950s, the West Coast Photographic Movement represents a critical era in the history of American photography.

This exhibition was curated by Taylor Carr-Howard ’17 and Professor Mary MacNaughton. Scripps College thanks the Thompson Family and Jane Hurley Wilson ’64 and Michael Wilson, whose gifts made this exhibition possible, as well as the Mellon Foundation, which funded research on Dody Weston Thompson.

Image: Dody Weston Thompson, Edward Weston at Rhyolite, Nevada, 1948, gelatin silver print, Thompson Family Trust, c. 2012, Scripps College, Claremont, CA