Williamina Parrish: Artist, photographer, mentour
Swink, Rhenee C.
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Williamina Parrish was a St. Louis artist active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that became known nationally and internationally for use of photography as a medium of art. As a photographic artist she represents a transition between the Victorian period and modern photographic art. Parrish implemented the soft focused style focus popular among Victorian photographers and turn of the century pictorialists — later experimenting with sharp focus popular with modernists. Throughout her career she embraced the sentimentality common in Victorian Art including themes based on the home, nature, and Greek mythology. Parrish did market her work to clients, but because she did not make her living by her photography, she could select her clients. This contrast Parrish to her contemporary Käsebier who operated a commercial studio and Cameron who carried out photography as a part of a Victorian system of reciprocity and did not accept paying clients. Williamina Parrish’s role as a transitional artist between Victorian and the modern period is evident in a series of male nude figures in nature produced in 1914. Williamina implemented themes of Greek mythology and nature popular among Victorian artists, while using sharp focus popular with modernists, and exploring the nude male figure as a female artist- something that was less common at the time. Parrish was a founding member of the Salon Club of America and studied under one of the founding members of the Photo-Session Gertrude Käsebier. As an artist she was part of creative social circles and committed to mentoring and promoting fellow creatives, including those in literature and art. Williamina Parrish was connected to a network of artists and writers, with her art receiving less attention than more famous members of her social network making it important to reexamine her work in context to the transition between Victorian and modern photographic art.
Thesis (M.A.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History