In Search of the American Family

LENS New York Times
November 20, 2017
by Rena Silverman

Every November, mothers, fathers and siblings link arms and tap dance straight into the holiday season. Gathered around the glow of a fireplace or at a packed table for turkey dinner, generations bound by blood, marriage — or even a good Sondheim song — impart wisdom and gifts to their offspring. And every new smile, no matter how different, is greeted with kindness and acceptance.


In a #notfilter world of Instagram-less gatherings, the traditional family is far more complex. Thanksgiving tables are part battlefield, part stage. And a quick look around will reveal not only who is present but who is not. And in the case of the photographers in (Un)expected Families, opening Dec. 9 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the parentheses hold a lot of weight.

“In a number of instances, the person missing from the picture is the photographer,” said Karen Haas, the museum’s photography curator. And while the exhibition — which includes photos by LaToya Ruby Frazier, Harry Callahan, Nan Goldin and Duane Michals — highlights socio-economic polarities, “affluent and destitute, cohesive and fractured, expected and unexpected,” the spectrum of gazes, absences and appearances made by the photographers among families — their own or others’ — feels even stronger.

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Courtesy of: LENS New York times