Laband Art Gallery Explores Five Decades of Photography with “Judy Dater: Only Human”

A 50-year-career survey of works by renowned photographer Judy Dater will open this fall at Loyola Marymount University’s Laband Art Gallery.

The exhibition “Judy Dater: Only Human” was organized by San Francisco’s de Young Museum and celebrates Dater’s creative evolution and nuanced focus on what it means to be “simply and only human.” The show opens Oct. 6 with a talk by Dater, who will sign copies of a retrospective of her photographs published by LMU’s Marymount Institute Press and Tsehai Publishers. “Judy Dater: Only Human” runs through Dec. 8.

A pioneering figure in 1970s art, Dater embraced feminism as a theme through the decades and is known for her natural-light portraits and nude photographs that challenge gender stereotypes and perceptions of both the female and male body. Her compositions increase in narrative depth over time, with self-portraits incorporating the landscape of the Southwest using geographic features as subtle allusions to the weight of social constructs.

“‘Judy Dater: Only Human’ is a gathering of 50 of Judy’s masterpieces of portraiture,” said Karen Rapp, director of LMU’s Laband Art Gallery. “In each and every image there is a consistency in candor and authenticity — these are invitational images that draw us closer to the subject, face to face, if you will. The show is really a testament to Judy’s lifelong engagement with people and her commitment to a collaborative relationship between photographer and sitter.”

Dater, born in 1941 in Los Angeles, has lived most of her life in California. Growing up in Hollywood, she developed an early interest in photography while spending time in her father’s movie theater. She studied art at UCLA and later, San Francisco State University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and committed more seriously to photography. Her early talent was encouraged by several prominent members and followers of Group f.64 – a San Francisco photography association – including Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston.

A fully-illustrated, 200-page publication “Judy Dater: Only Human, 1964 to 2016, Portraits and Nudes,” was published by LMU’s Marymount Institute Press and Tsehai Publishers to complement the exhibition; the book contains essays by Marilyn Symmes, Gloria Williams Sander and Donna Stein.

“Judy Dater is one of America’s foremost photographers and her portraiture of people, famous and unknown, reveals us to ourselves as radically different and yet the same,” said Theresia de Vroom, professor of English and director of LMU’s Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture and the Arts. “Dater’s 50-year retrospective embodies the spirit of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary and the Marymount traditions and is a fitting way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their affiliation with LMU.”

The exhibition is part of the 2018-19 Bellarmine Forum themed “Collaboration and Creativity: Faith, Culture, and the Arts.” The forum is an annual series of interconnected events and courses celebrating the life of the mind.

“We could not be more pleased to have this exhibition as part of this year’s Bellarmine Forum and its focus on the power of creative collaboration,” said Robbin D. Crabtree, dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. “Dater’s photography is illustrative of the participatory aspect to faith, culture, and the arts. We hope her work inspires students to connect, create, and contribute to society in meaningful ways.”

The 2018-19 forum is made possible with the support and collaboration of LMU’s Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, College of Communication and Fine Arts, Laband Art Gallery, Archives and Special Collections of the William H. Hannon Library, Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination, Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture and the Arts, Alumni Relations, Office of Student Affairs, departments of English and Theological Studies, and the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary and Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.

More information about “Judy Dater: Only Human” can be found here.

“Judy Dater: Only Human” is organized by Janna Keegan, curatorial assistant of contemporary art and programming, with significant contributions by Julian Cox, former chief curator of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Free Public Programming:

Artist’s Lecture, Murphy Hall
Friday, Oct 5, 12:15 – 1:15 p.m.
Judy Dater will give an overview of the work in the exhibition and discuss how it relates to her lifelong practice. (This lecture is part of KaleidoLA Speaker Series.)

Opening Reception with Artist’s Talk and Book Signing, Laband Art Gallery
Saturday, Oct. 6, 2 – 5 p.m. (Remarks will begin at 3 p.m.)
Celebrate the opening of “Judy Dater: Only Human” and meet the artist

Artist’s Walkthrough, Laband Art Gallery
Tuesday, Oct. 9, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Visitors may drop in for an informal tour of the exhibition with the artist.

Image credit: Judy Dater, “My Hands, Death Valley, Death Valley, California,” 1980, gelatin silver print, collection of the artist. © Judy Dater