About the Photographer
American, b. 1926
In an offshoot of war photography, some contemporary American photographers have turned to documenting the military-industrial complex purportedly designed to maintain this country's preparedness for conflict. Barbara Norfleet, who has long been interested in the social history of the United States, channeled her involvement with the vernacular to examine various sites around the country linked to the culture of combat, such as this New Mexico museum. The Aesthetics of Defense, the project that produced Space Museum, Alamogordo, New Mexico, is an investigation of a world where lethal and threatening objects and scenes can often appear innocuous and beautiful. Here the bright desert sunlight captures the mundane quality of this missile. Norfleet has evoked an uneasy vision of contemporary American civilization.
Born in 1926, Barbara Norfleet served from 1966 to 1981 as a senior lecturer in visual and environmental studies at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, where she is still curator of photography. She received her BA from Swarthmore College, and her MA and PhD in social relations from Harvard University and Radcliffe College. Her works have been widely shown in the United States and Europe, with exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; International Center of Photography, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.