Family is at the heart of how we identify ourselves. It is also a site for contesting political values and social norms. Many parents know the pressure of making choices about how they and their children will eat, sleep, dress, wear their hair, practice religion, become educated and express beliefs. Not MY Family Values, curated by Rebecca Senf, is an online exhibition that explores the idea of family and the way that cultural ideals are played out there.

Photographers, both men and women, have focused their lenses on couples, families, and children, in the privacy of the home and out in the world. This chorus of perspectives illustrates what a simultaneously vital and fraught institution “family” can be and gives visual form to a heterogeneous range of experiences and perceptions.

There are lots of different families. We all believe in “family values.” But whose family values? Yours may not be my family values.

About the Curating Process

As Norton Family Curator, a joint appointment between the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) and Phoenix Art Museum, I typically curate exhibitions from the holdings of the CCP which go on view at Phoenix Art Museum. These have included exhibitions of the photographs of Richard Avedon, Edward Weston, W. Eugene Smith, and Ansel Adams and thematic shows including aerial photography, portraiture, platinum and palladium prints, and unique photographic objects.

When curating a typical exhibition, I search the Center for Creative Photography’s database looking for appropriate artists and prints. I then go to the vault and select specific works, based on their image content as well as their physical characteristics, such as size, materials, condition, and presentation.

In curating this exhibition for Art Photo Index (API), there was a call to API photographers to submit images they felt fit the theme. Additionally, I could search the API database for images I wanted to use. Perhaps it goes without saying, but in this case only the image content mattered – there is no physical element under my control.

Curating for API allowed for an exploration of a subject of more personal concern. The online format also presented an interesting challenge, to create an exhibition which – by its design – is much more linear than a physical exhibition. In contrast to the visual environment of social media, which offers a nearly endless stream of varied and decontextualized pictures, this was also an opportunity to create an internally cohesive consideration of a single concept in depth.

In the exhibition it is possible to view the name of the artist by hovering your cursor over the image. You also have the choice to see additional works by the photographer, by clicking the information icon in the upper left corner of the image. I encourage you to explore the work of these talented artists and see the breadth of their photography.
About Rebecca Senf
Dr. Rebecca Senf is the Norton Family Curator of Photography, a joint appointment at the Center for Creative Photography and the Phoenix Art Museum. She curates exhibitions for the Doris and John Norton Gallery for the Center for Creative Photography in Phoenix and some of her past exhibitions include Debating Modern Photography: the Triumph of Group f/64; Richard Avedon: Photographer of Influence; Human Nature: the Photographs of Barbara Bosworth; Edward Weston: Mexico; Charting the Canyon: Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe; Face to Face: 150 Years of Photographic Portraiture; All That Glitters is Not Gold: Platinum Photography from the Center for Creative Photography and the Steele Gallery exhibition, Ansel Adams: Discoveries of January to June, 2010. Senf grew up in Tucson and went to undergraduate school at the University of Arizona, studying the History of Photography. She spent ten years in Boston, Massachusetts where she earned a Ph.D. in Art History at Boston University. In Boston she worked on the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s major exhibition Ansel Adams from The Lane Collection, for which she also co-authored the exhibition catalogue. In October of 2012 her book Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe was released by University of California Press.

Rebecca Senf happily lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband and two children, and is only occasionally mortified by their table manners.