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Photo historian will speak about her work in curating, art writing

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Photo historian Erin Barnett, this spring’s Greer Lecturer at Bethel College, will talk about her work, and also share with students her experience with and knowledge of art writing.

Barnett will speak on “How Photography Changed My Perspective,” April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel (note change in location from recent Greer Lectures).

The lecture and reception following are free and open to the public.

In March, Barnett was named director of exhibitions at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York.

She previously worked as managing editor for Abrams Publishing, as assistant curator at ICP, and as a curatorial fellow at the New Museum and at the Guggenheim Museum, both in New York.

Rachel Epp Buller, Bethel College associate professor of visual art and design as well as Greer Lecture coordinator, and Barnett became acquainted while both were in an art history master’s degree program at the University of Kansas.

Barnett contributed an essay on the photographs of Catherine Opie to a book that Epp Buller edited, Reconciling Art and Mothering (Routledge, 2012).

“Because Erin is an experienced art writer, she’ll be working with the students in my class Special Topics: Art and Design History 1900-1945, to help edit their art writing,” Epp Buller said. “They’ll each be working on writing and designing gallery guides for the exhibition ‘Transition and Turmoil: Human Expressions 1900-1945.’”

“Transition and Turmoil” is currently at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University. Epp Buller curated the exhibit, which was installed specifically for her Special Topics class.

Barnett was trained as an art historian and curator (she has her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, and also studied in the Whitney Museum Independent Study curatorial program in New York), with an emphasis in photography.

“She studies the history of photos, both fine arts and vernacular, meaning more popular, such as you might find in a photo essay in something like Life magazine,” said Epp Buller. “She uses photos to illuminate social issues or a particular historical context.”

Barnett has curated, and written or co-written exhibition catalogs for, the exhibits “President in Petticoats! Civil War Propaganda in Photographs”; “The Loving Story: Photographs by Grey Villet” (about the groundbreaking 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case that threw out the prohibition against interracial marriage); “Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945”; “Take Me to the Water: Photographs of River Baptisms”; “Munkacsi’s Lost Archive”; and “Amelia Earhart: Image and Icon” (with Kristen Lubben). The exhibits were mounted at ICP or at other museums using photos from ICP collections.

The late Dr. Robert C. and Amparo Goering initiated the Greer Fine Arts Endowment at Bethel in 1979 in memory of their friend Milford E. Greer Jr., who was interested in literature and music and excelled as an artist, and who died in an auto accident in 1972 at age 45. The Greer Endowment helps bring visiting artists and scholars in the areas of music, visual arts or theater to the Bethel campus.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015–16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015–16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.