CINCINNATI — Time is running out for the public to see an exhibit featuring the photographs of a famed Loveland resident.
“Craft and Camera: The Art of Nancy Ford Cones" opened at the Taft Museum of Art in October but comes to an end on Jan. 15.
Nancy Ford Cones' (1869–1962) photographs earned her an international reputation and recognition in Kodak advertisements and in such prestigious publications as “National Geographic.”
Despite the praise her works received during her lifetime, Cones' work has been largely forgotten after her death. The Taft Art Museum’s exhibition is the first major presentation of her work.
Cones lived on a small riverside farm in Loveland. She created photographs during a time when female artists struggled for recognition. Cones made thousands of photographs featuring a variety of imaginative subjects brought to life with the help of neighbors, friends, and family from a period between 1900 and 1939.
“Craft and Camera gives us incredible insight into pictorial photography, but also the lens through which Cones re-imagined the Ohio River Valley landscape and people around her from a uniquely personal perspective,” guest curator Dr. Pepper Stetler said.
The exhibition includes many of Cones’ fairy tales and literary scenes, such as her celebrated adaptation of “Mr. Micawber,” a character from Charles Dickens’s 1850 novel “David Copperfield.”
This photograph, featuring local grocer, Bill Stokes as the poverty-stricken but optimistic clerk was exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society in London in 1927. “‘Mr. Micawber’ by Nancy Ford Cones is a clever example of photographic illustration,” one critic wrote. “Such works show where America’s strength in camera work really lies.”
Cones also enrolled her daughter Margaret into her work, creating fantastical scenes featuring dryads, gnomes, and woodland adventures.
Several photographs in this exhibition, such as "The Abode of the Gnomes," shows nude or scantily clad young women, subjects considered in the early 20th century controversial for a rural photographer like Cones. She exhibited only one of her dryad photographs during her lifetime.
Cones' husband James, an expert in printing and developing photographs, helped produce Nancy’s work using a variety of techniques and papers. “Craft and Camera” highlights this collaboration, including her 1905 photograph “Threading the Needle,” which finished second to one by photographer Edward Steichen in a national Eastman Kodak competition drawing 20,000 entries.
The Taft Museum of Art was built 1820 as a private home for several of Cincinnati’s most prominent citizens.
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