MoCP celebrates 40 years with new exhibition


Maria Cardona

The Museum of Contemporary Photography’s 40th anniversary exhibit, MoCP at 40 plans to feature more than 200 pieces of art 

By Campus Reporter

The museum of Contemporary Photography is commemorating its 40th anniversary with the exhibit “MoCP at 40,” opening Jan.25.  

The exhibit will highlight a dense, diverse selection of work drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, according to the museum’s website. 

The exhibition will feature famous work in addition to some lesser-known pieces. The 200-item exhibit will showcase work from artists like Diane Arbus, Roy DeCarava, Walker Evans, Sally Mann and Andy Warhol, and will include pieces such as Elliott Erwitt’s 1963 “Jackie Kennedy at Funeral,” and Daniel Gordon’s 2009 “July 22, 2009.” The museum’s upstairs Print Study Room will showcase work from the museum’s “Midwest Photographers Project.” 

The focus will be on iconic moments in pop culture and art history through multiple interpretations of the photographic medium, according to Natasha Egan, executive director of the MoCP.

“We have a lot of photographs in the collection that are significant to what was happening at the time,” Egan said. “We’re trying to celebrate that this great collection is here in Chicago.” 

Egan said the MoCP’s collection focuses on the contemporary and how it may change over time. 

“You realize that our collection shows the pulse of the time. We were a part of that and we always try to do exhibitions that are in conversations about it today,” Egan said. “Sometimes is can be abstract, and it can be material.”

Describing the exhibit as “contemporary photographic art as we have always seen it,” Egan said its artwork was created in the past about problems taht are still in the conversation today.

“[The exhibit] is a way of dealing with what’s happening today, but the medium is still changing, and photography is such a great medium because it is always recording, but it has the ability to mess with it. A photo is something people can believe in. So there is a presence of the time that is happening right then and there.” Egan said.

Allison Grant, assistant curator and education coordinator, said she hopes to create an inspirational atmosphere for not only experienced, educated regulars, but also for those who are less familiar with art.

“I wanted this exhibition to not only bring out some of our best, most iconic work, but for a seasoned art lover or someone who knows nothing, to have that sense of discovery and to just have this connection with some of the work,” Grant said. “The reach of the role of the image in our world today is extremely profound. Just about every object in the world and every form of human perception is affected by images.”

According to Grant, the exhibition shows how the museum has dealt with photography outside of people’s perceptions about photography as a whole.

Logan Javage, a junior photography major, said the exhibit is beneficial because it shows the history of photography and how the medium has changed.

“Being able to expose ourselves to different types that have evolved over the years is good for us to learn from,” Javage said.”We know how to adapt for our future.” 

Grant said they have done well, but the exhibit is still evolving.

“We’re going to deal with how photography is becoming less material, but the museum’s place in culture and [its] cultural relationship to physical photographs is going to change.”