Beyond the Frame

About the Exhibition

Our interactions with images help shape our experience of the world. From storytelling to journalism, expressions of self-hood to shedding light on social issues, photographs have infinite capacities to engage, communicate, and convey. Yet the way we see an image reflects our individual perceptions and histories. Although photographs are often considered documents of real moments in time, we should look carefully, considering not only the choices made by the photographer but also how those choices influence our interpretations. With billions of images produced and shared each day, discerning how we read pictures has become vitally important—especially with representations of historical events, notions of identity, and shared human experiences all in play.

Beyond the Frame spotlights the MoCP’s permanent collection of more than 16,500 works as a rich resource for harnessing visual literacy skills. Each gallery features works focused on critical topics that appear over and over again in the history of the medium, such as Portraiture and the Human Subject, Landscape and Place, and Staged and Constructed Images. By placing works by historical and contemporary, local and international artists together according to distinct themes, we invite you to look with awareness, and when you re-enter the image-saturated world beyond the museum’s walls, to pursue thoughtful, questioning engagement with the visual depictions you encounter. There is always more to the story beyond the frame.

This exhibition is organized by Kristin Taylor, Curator of Academic Programs and Collections. 

The MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2021-2022 exhibition season is sponsored in part by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, the Efroymson Family Fund, the Henry Nias Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Beyond the Frame has been generously supported through The David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Impact Fund for Photography.