In Search of Norman Rockwell's America
March 12 to April 25, 2011
Photojournalist Kevin Rivoli knows that the America painted by Norman Rockwell did, and still does, exist. He has spent the last twenty years documenting it. In Search of Norman Rockwell's America juxtaposes Rockwell's work with Rivoli's photographs of spontaneously occurring moments of everyday life. These photographs are true to Rockwell's form—storytelling in a single, spontaneous frame that captures and celebrates the ordinary. Rockwell was a man who made it his mission to celebrate the ordinary.
Although immensely popular among the American people, Rockwell was often dismissed by critics who deemed his work old-fashioned, too idealistic, sentimental or overly nostalgic. He was often accused of creating moments that didn't exist—or, as one critic alleged—of “creating an America that never was and never will be.” While Rockwell often painted from staged photographs he personally choreographed, he created those images based upon his life experiences and what he saw going on in the world around him. He once said, “I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.”
Although Rockwell's work varied, much of what he chose to focus on accentuated the positive. “To appreciate an artist you should look at the artist and try to understand what they are trying to do,” Norman's grandson John Rockwell said. “Pop felt strongly about trying to bring attention to the positive aspects of our everyday world because he felt it was a part of the fabric of America. Kevin's photographs help us do that."
In Search of Norman Rockwell's America was organized by Kevin and Michele Rivoli in collaboration with International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.
Born on February 3, 1894 in New York City, Norman Rockwell was an illustrator best known for his covers of The Saturday Evening Post, the American magazine well-read amongst Canadians as well, especially after World War I when imported American magazines were outselling domestic magazines eight–to-one in subscriptions and newsstands across Canada.
He sold his first cover in 1916 and for the next forty-seven years he illustrated a total of 317 Saturday Evening Post covers, as well as the official Boy Scout Calendar and World War II posters portraying the Four Freedoms.
In 1977, the year before he died, he was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom peacetime award.
Kevin Rivoli is an American freelance photojournalist whose work is published weekly by the Associated Press, the New York Times, and USA Today, among others.
He taught himself how to shoot using the Time LIFE books on photography. Since 1989, Rivoli has won more than four dozen state and national photo awards including the New York State Associated Press Bruce Cromie Award in 1999. While he loves photographing major sporting events and famous figures, one of his passions has always been photographing Rockwell moments. Rivoli credits the American icon with inspiring his passion for celebrating the ordinary.
Gee, Thanks, Brooks (study), c. 1971
Reprinted with permission of Brooks C. Robinson.
Photo © Kevin Rivoli
Boy and Dog with a Cold, 1958
© Brown and Bigelow, Inc.
Puppy Pal, 2007
Photo © Kevin Rivoli