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Wellin Museum Presents Rhona Bitner: Resound

Wellin Museum Presents Rhona Bitner: Resound

Rhona Bitner: Resound features sumptuous photographs depicting the physical and material domains of music, dance, and the theater, among other subjects.

Much of Bitner’s photographic practice focuses on the spaces, people, and objects related to performance—from popular music and the circus to ballet and classical theater, among other subjects—to create images that evoke personal and collective memory.

The exhibition was curated by Tracy Adler, Johnson-Pote Director of the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College. An introductory preview video can be found here.

The following projects are featured in the exhibition:

Inspired by images Bitner first made while attending a matinee of the expansive three-ring Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden, the photographs that followed were the result of photographing 76 live performances by 46 traveling circus companies over the course of a decade.

Ghost Light
In the early days of the pandemic in 2020, Bitner walked the streets of New York City with a small digital camera, revisiting places that have personal memories associated with them. Here, 77 works shot in black and white are displayed as postcards, evocative of messages sent from a faraway place.

Through relationships developed with traditional theater and opera companies throughout the U.S. and France, Bitner worked with in-house lighting technicians to photograph the rise and fall of the curtain, attracted to the symbolic nature of those consequential and ephemeral moments.

In this project, Bitner mapped the history of American popular music by photographing “recording studios, clubs, concert halls, arenas, ballrooms, churches, living rooms, prisons, and fields where our most vital music was created, played, witnessed, and engraved,” she explains.

Five pictures from the “Pointe” series (2020–present) are included in the exhibition. The toe shoes were given to Bitner by an artist who found them on the street a decade earlier. Bitner commented, “I realized how much strength and effort goes into that point. Each shoe possessed the essence of the ballerina who wore it.”

This four-part work grew out of Bitner’s long-held desire to examine the audience and fandom as components of performance. Her images offer bird’s-eye views of concert crowds.

A highly personal work, this group of six images created in 2019 portrays Bitner’s oldest childhood toy, a plush clown head that was originally a windup, rotating musical toy; its age and repairs evident in the photographs.

About Rhona Bitner
Rhona Bitner (b. 1960, New York City; lives and works in New York City and Paris) has participated in exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. Bitner’s work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago among others. She is currently a fellow at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York. Bitner received a B.S. degree in studio art from New York University.

Wellin Museum
The Wellin Museum is located at the corner of College Hill and Griffin Roads. Museum Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art
Every week through Dec 09, 2023.
Tuesday: 11:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Wednesday: 11:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Thursday: 11:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Friday: 11:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Saturday: 11:00 AM - 05:00 PM

Event Supported By

Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art

Artist Group Info

Rhona Bitner
Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art
College Hill Road
Clinton, New York 13323