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UA photography center appoints (another) new curator

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UA photography center appoints (another) new curator

  • Rebecca Senf
    UARebecca Senf

Rebecca Senf, already a curator of a University of Arizona collaboration with the Phoenix Art Museum, has been named the latest in a series of chief curators of the troubled Center for Creative Photography in Tucson. Her predecessor lasted less than two years, and the CCP's director also recently quit — the fifth in seven years.

The UA museum is one of the finest in the world, with an extensive collection of 90,000 fine art photographs and manuscripts, including works by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams (who co-founded the center with then-UA President John Schaefer in 1974).

Senf has curated a collaboration between the CCP and the Phoenix Art Museum since 2007.

"Dr. Senf is an accomplished curator and scholar of photography," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, senior vice president for research at the UA, in a news release. "With her record of success, she is an ideal chief curator who will advance the Center for Creative Photography to even greater distinction."

The CCP has seen a revolving door of chief curators and directors.

The previous curator, Joshua Chuang, was widely respected by fellow curators and scholars, but was fired from his post in November after having been brought to the UA in the spring of 2014. Chuang had filled a position that had been vacant since 2009, when the previous curator and director of the center, Britt Salvesen, resigned after a short period at the helm.

The center's latest director, Katharine Martinez, retired last month after coming to the CCP in 2010. She was the fifth director of the center hired in seven years.

Martinez raised the hackles of many center supporters by dismissing an advisory board of fundraisers and photo experts. The leadership of the center chafed for years under the purview of the university library system, and there has been constant dissension on whether to focus on exhibiting photographs or on scholarship and preservation.

Will Senf's promotion help right the ship?

"The center's distinctive collections of fine prints and archival objects present exciting opportunities for exhibitions and scholarship," Senf said in the UA release. "Both our well-known treasures and hidden gems like the 'Voices of Photography' oral history recordings offer rich possibilities for scholars, curators and artists to discover new histories in our rapidly changing field. I am thrilled to continue working with the talented staff at the center to fulfill the promise of the institution's mission."

The Tucson native, who earned her undergraduate degree at the UA before earning at Ph.D. at Boston University, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on her appointment or the center's troubled management.

Among Senf's 32 shows at the Phoenix museum, she curated monographic exhibitions on Edward Weston and Richard Avedon and contemporary artists Barbara Bosworth, Linda Connor, and Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe.

From the UA release:

Before the close of the center's current exhibition, "Lives of Pictures: 40 Years of Collecting at the Center for Creative Photography," Senf is offering a series of lunchtime gallery tours to allow members of the community to meet her and learn about her curatorial approach. The casual walk-throughs, which will offer time for questions, are scheduled for Feb. 23, March 3 and 23, April 23 and May 12. Senf will give an evening lecture about the exhibition and her curatorial process this spring.

Becky's history with and contributions to the center make her voice a vital one through this time of transition and beyond," said Colin Blakely, director of the UA School of Art. "She has been proactive in building collaborations with the School of Art, and we are excited to work with her in her new capacity as chief curator."


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