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March 9, 2010

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Harn Museum of Art displays work by University of Florida alumna Bea Nettles

GAINESVILLE, Fla. —There are few challenges that match those brought about by motherhood. Opening March 16 at the Harn Museum of Art, Bea Nettles, Life’s Lessons: A Mother’s Journal, Highlights from the Photography Collection features work from the point-of-view of University of Florida alumna Bea Nettles.

The exhibition will display a series of 46 photographs, mainly 20-by-24 inch, black-and-white Polaroids created by Nettles for her 1990 book, “Life’s Lessons: A Mother’s Journal.” In this highly personal and often poignant series, the artist explores the rewards, challenges and responsibilities of parenting.

Nettles’ work addresses her own feelings about the increased independence of her son and daughter and their interaction with the world. The series incorporates portraiture and a wide range of artifacts from daily family life. Combining her children’s drawings, play activities and papers from school with her own work, the artist created images that address society’s larger issues, such as gender roles, materialism and the influence of mass media.

“This exhibition features a highly personal, thought-provoking series of photographs giving insights not only into the artist and her relationship with her two children, but also our culture’s changing family values and the challenge of parenting in modern America,” said Tom Southall, curator of photography. "It is a great honor that Nettles has generously donated the complete series to the museum. The works will continue to inspire and challenge viewers for generations to come.”

A number of programs will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition. At 2 p.m. March 15 at Smathers Library, Room 1A, visitors will enjoy a reading titled “Grace’s Daughter.” Nettles will read and discuss poetry by her mother, Grace Nettles. The Smather’s Library Special Collections will also display its collection of limited-edition mother and daughter book collaborations, published in the 1970s.

Following a 2 p.m. docent-led, exhibition spotlight tour at the Harn Museum on March 21, Nettles will give a lecture at 3 p.m. titled “Memory Theatres: the Photographic Work of Bea Nettles.” She will discuss her photographic work beginning with her earliest mixed-media images of the 1970s, moving through her photographic narratives, and ending with her most recent limited-edition artist’s books. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Nettles was born in Gainesville, Fla., and earned her B.F.A. at UF in 1968. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Illinois, Chicago, in 1970.

Life’s Lessons: A Mother’s Journal will be on display through Sept. 26. The exhibition is made possible by the Sidney Knight Endowment.

Admission to the Harn Museum of Art and related events is free. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit

High-resolution images of works in the exhibition are available at

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
Founded in 1990, the Harn Museum of Art is an integral part of the University of Florida. The Harn contributes to an interconnected, international community by integrating the arts and culture into curricula throughout the university’s system of colleges and centers. Its holdings include nearly 7,000 works in five main collecting areas: Asian art, African art, photography, modern art of the Americas and Europe, and contemporary art. In addition to rotating installations drawn from its permanent collection, the Harn organizes traveling exhibitions, public lectures, panel discussions, academic symposia and educational programs for adults, students and children. In 2011, the Harn will open the 26,000-square-foot David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing, which will feature two levels of galleries, curatorial and conservation space, and a series of outdoor Asian gardens.

The Harn Museum, at Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road in Gainesville, Fla., is part of the University of Florida’s Cultural Plaza, which is also home to the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is open until 9 p.m. the second Thursday of every month for Museum Nights. The Camellia Court Café is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit

Media contact :
Tami Wroath
Harn Museum of Art
(352) 392-9826 x2116

Writer: Nicole Pick

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