- May 5, 2010 – December 31, 2010
From 1939 to 1945 — in an act of meticulous, reclusive, and sustained creativity — photographer Mike Disfarmer produced intimate portraits of the people of Heber Springs, Arkansas. Using glass-plate photography long after it was obsolete, Disfarmer asked his subjects to decide how they would present themselves to his lens. Visitors streamed to the studio of this painstaking, sometimes cantankerous photographer. When thousands of these glass plates were discovered in the 1970s, Disfarmer’s photographs were recognized as a stunning achievement for their exquisite artistry, their profound empathy, and their landmark documentation of small-town life in America’s heartland.
This selection of Disfarmer’s photographs was on view at MASS MoCA in conjunction with the museum’s presentation of Disfarmer, a puppet theater work by Dan Hurlin, inspired by the life of this American portrait photographer. Disfarmer was one of the more than 60 live events that are presented at MASS MoCA every year, many of which are developed in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Theater during extended artist residencies.