Virtual: Susan Meiselas: Through a Woman’s Lens

Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts
Susan Meiselas (American, b. 1948) has spent nearly five decades documenting human stories. Guided by her own intuition at the outset of her career, she focused on the lives and perspectives of women on the edges of the mainstream—narratives that might have been otherwise overlooked. Many of these pictures record the moment during which they were made, when women were asking important questions about gender equality and their roles at home, in politics, and in the world. From sorority girls, strippers, and beauty queens to boxers and delegates, these women shatter the narrow spectrum of female representation that predominated in visual culture. Together, the pictures present a portrait not only of women at the time but also of an artist coming of age during the Women’s Movement, who understood the challenges women faced, including the structures that limited their opportunities. The exhibition considers this period as a foundation for Meiselas’s documentary practice—grounded in collaboration and immersion—and for her exploration of how photography might act as a platform to bring the stories of women and others on the periphery to a larger audience.

A member of the international photographic cooperative Magnum Photos since 1976, Meiselas works in a participatory manner that honors her collaborators and the people she photographs. For Meiselas, immersion is key to approaching the people she works with, understanding their perspectives, and making pictures that reveal complicated truths. Presented on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gives women the right to vote, this exhibition honors and examines the legacy of a woman whose commitment to collaborative practice has made an enduring mark on the field.

Presented in collaboration with the Feminist Art Coalition

Virtual Tour

Experience the exhibition virtually, through a 360-degree, interactive tour. Exclusive to the virtual format is the opportunity to hear from the artist, the people she photographed, and her collaborators; to examine additional publications and ephemera; and to watch historical films and interviews that provide added context to Meiselas’s work. Enjoy this unique multimedia exploration into four decades of work by the photographer. Please note this exhibition includes mature content; viewer discretion is advised.

Room with art from Susan Meiselas
View this video for a brief introduction to the virtual tour by Lisa Sutcliffe, Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts. Within the tour, click on the colored dots below the photographs to see and hear more about the work.

This virtual tour was co-created by Susan Meiselas and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Past Events

Member Preview Conversation:
Susan Meiselas: Through a Woman’s Lens

Virtual Panel Discussion:
Collaboration: A Potential History of Photography

Virtual Panel Discussion:
Photography and Awareness: Sharing Survivors’ Stories

Exhibitions in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts sponsored by: Herzfeld Foundation
This exhibition was made possible through the generosity of: Northern Trust
Contributing Sponsor: David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation
  • Susan Meiselas, Tentful of marks, Turnbridge, Vermont, 1974. Gelatin silver print. 7¾ x 11½ in. Courtesy the artist. © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos
  • Susan Meiselas, Roseann on the way to Manhattan Beach, New York, 1978, from the series Prince Street Girls, 1975–92. Courtesy the artist. © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos
  • Susan Meiselas, College Sorority, Madison, Wisconsin, 1978. Gelatin silver print. 8 x 10 in. Courtesy the artist. © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos
  • Susan Meiselas, Women delegates at the Democratic National Convention, Madison Square Garden, New York City, 1976; printed 2020. Gelatin silver print. 8 x 10 in. Courtesy the artist. © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos