Roadside Culture and American Photography in the 20th Century
About this Event
Edward “Pete” Armstrong Photography Lecture
Join April Watson, Curator of Photography at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, for a look at the great American open road as seen through the lens of the country’s greatest photographers. Throughout the 20th century, photographers have been fascinated by the impact of car travel, the mythos of expansive spaces, and the signs and symbols of American roadside culture. Some aspects of road imagery are quirky and joyous; others can be complicated and unsettling.
Focusing on treasures from the photography collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the talk will feature key artists whose photographs reflect the rich cultural dynamic of the American roadway. This photography explores American identity and cultural imagination from the 1930s through 1970s. Artists include such greats as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, and Stephen Shore—all of whom investigated freedom and opportunity as well as darker issues of consumerism, displacement, and racism as revealed in the highways and byways of America.
April M. Watson joined the photography department of the Nelson-Atkins Museum in 2007 and holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Kansas. Watson has organized numerous exhibitions, including the recent Gordon Parks x Muhammed Ali: The Image of a Champion. She is currently working on a summer 2022 exhibition of Jim Dow’s photographs of roadside America.
About the Lecture Series: Edward “Pete” Armstrong (1921-2009) was a respected business and civic leader and talented photographer. A photographic officer during World War II, he pursued his passion for photography throughout his life. After military service, he joined McCormick Armstrong Co. in Wichita and ultimately rose to become chairman of the successful family company. His wife, Mickey Armstrong, and family honor Pete and his lifelong love of photography through endowed support for ongoing talks on photography topics at the Wichita Art Museum.
Capacity limited to 200. RSVPs for both WAM members and the general public are required and may be made below.