Close to Home: Photographers and Their Families

Media - 2010.6.1 - SAAM-2010.6.1_1 - 73336

Virginia Beahan, Christina and Gram on Thanksgiving, New Hampshire, 2004, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Haluk and Elisa Soykan © Virginia Beahan

In the 1980s, Larry Sultan and Tina Barney reinvigorated portraiture by turning their lenses on their own families to document their personal histories. These images record intimate moments these artists have elected to share and offer a glimpse into the private world most choose to reserve behind closed doors. The familiarity of these photographs belies a more elaborate process behind the lens. Having a parent, spouse, or sibling who is a photographer means living with the constant presence of the camera. These subjects are accustomed to an observer who is also an inseparable part of their daily lives.


Close to Home presents photographs made during the past three decades by both established and emerging artists. It features thirty-two color and black-and-white photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's permanent collection by nine contemporary photographers: Tina Barney, Virginia Beahan, Christopher Dawson, Muriel Hasbun, Martina Lopez, Elaine O’Neil, Larry Sultan, Margaret Strickland, and Carrie Will. The exhibition includes many new acquisitions, which are on view at the museum for the first time. Toby Jurovics, formerly the museum's curator of photography, selected the photographs in the installation.

Visiting Information

February 4, 2011 July 23, 2011
Open Daily, 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m
Free Admission


The Bernie Stadiem Endowment Fund provided support for the exhibition.


Tina Barney
born New York City 1945

Tina Barney was born to a wealthy New York family in 1945. She began collecting photographs in 1971, which sparked her interest in doing her own work.

Virginia Beahan
born Philadelphia, PA 1946
Christopher Dawson
born New York City 1972
Muriel Hasbun
born San Salvador, El Salvador 1961
Martina Lopez
born Seattle, WA 1952
Elaine O’Neil
born Meriden, CT 1946
Margaret Strickland
born Valdosta, GA 1986
Larry Sultan
born New York City 1946-died Greenbrae, CA 2009
Carrie Will
born Suffern, NY 1979