Texas State University is hosting an open house celebrating three exhibitions on display now for the Wittliff Collections’ 25th anniversary. The come-and-go event will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 1 at the collections on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library on the university’s campus in San Marcos.
The exhibits include the “Edge of Time: Photographs of Mexico, by Mariana Yampolsky”; “Illuminating Texas: 25 Lone Star Moments”; and “The Dazzling Instant” photographic show. The three exhibits commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Wittliff Collections.
The Dazzling Instant involves the display of 95 images by 70 photographers. According to Wittliff Collections staff, each photograph on display can be seen as a powerful or poetic moment, and some of the images include classics such 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.
The Dazzling Instant was inspired by renowned French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who wrote, “The photograph is a guillotine blade that seizes one dazzling instant in eternity.”
Illuminating Texas: 25 Lone Star Moments memorializes iconic events ranging from the fall of the Alamo to the creation of Willie Nelson’s first songbook. According to Wittliff staff, the exhibit demonstrates how the university’s literary and photography collections relate to the state’s culture and history, and how artists translate shared experience into creative legacy.
“Part of the Wittliff’s importance in the Southwest and the wider world is how the archives help inform so many historic events,” said exhibition and Collections curator Steve Davis. “One example relates to Governor Ann Richards, who was the close consort of writer Bud Shrake. The Bud Shrake Papers at the Wittliff contain hundreds of letters, postcards, and faxes exchanged between the two over a period of 30 years — during the time Ann Richards advanced from county commissioner to governor of Texas. Ann’s letters to Bud read almost like a campaign diary at times, as she tells him the stories of her adventures on the road while running for the state’s highest office.”
Through the works of noted writers, photographers, and musicians, Illuminating Texas: 25 Lone Star Moments also depicts the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the rise of Austin’s music scene, Waco’s fiery Branch Davidian conflict, the arrival of Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca on what is now Galveston Island, and the launch of Apollo 13.
The third exhibition, The Edge of Time: Photographs of Mexico, honors Mariana Yampolsky’s (1925–2002) 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 Yampolsky’s lifelong concerns, her images capture rural Mexico and its people with respect and infinite care, according to Wittliff staff, who say her works function as art and evidence of a moment in Mexico’s history when centuries-old life-ways faced the rising tide of modernization.
Yampolsky, one of the major figures in twentieth-century Mexican photography, also worked as an engraver, artist, editor, lecturer, and book designer. Wittliff Collections originally organized the Edge of Time: Photographs of Mexico in 1996, and the exihibition toured from 1996 to 1999 with Exhibits USA.
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