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American Girl in Italy, 60th Anniversary

Posted by: on August 9, 2011

Stephen Bulger Gallery
1026 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON Canada M6J 1H6

Exhibition Dates: August 13- August 27, 2011
Reception: Saturday, August 20th, 2-5pm
Film Screenings: Saturday, August 20th, 3pm

August 22, 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the photograph “American Girl in Italy” by Ruth Orkin (1921-1985). The subject of this famous photograph is Ninalee Craig (then known as Jinx Allen), who lives in Toronto, so the official celebrations marking the occasion will be hosted by Stephen Bulger Gallery.

The gallery will be exhibiting a selection of photographs taken in 1951, in Florence, after a chance meeting between Orkin and Jinx Allen, a painter and fellow American. The two were talking about their shared experiences traveling alone as young single women, when Orkin had an idea. “Come on,” she said, “lets go out and shoot pictures of what it’s really like.” In the morning, while the Italian women were inside preparing lunch, Jinx gawked at statues, asked military officials for directions, fumbled with lire and flirted in cafes while Orkin photographed her. Orkin’s best known image, “American Girl in Italy” was also created as part of this series.

Ruth Orkin was 17 when she took a cross-country trip by herself, bicycling and hitchhiking from her home in Los Angeles to New York, snapping pictures along the way. She later moved to New York, where this spirit of adventure continued. She photographed Tanglewood’s summer music festival, honed her craft in nightclubs, joined the Photo League, and with her first published story in Look magazine, became “a full- fledged photojournalist.” In 1951, Life sent her on assignment to Israel and from there she went to Italy.

Mary Engel, Director of both her parents’ archives (Ruth Orkin / Morris Engel Film and Photo Archive), and Ninalee Craig will be present at Stephen Bulger Gallery for a public reception on Saturday, August 20th from 2-5pm. At 3pm, we will use CAMERA’s screening room for Mary to introduce these two films:

RUTH ORKIN: FRAMES OF LIFE (USA: 1995), 18 min. An award winning documentary about the life and work of Ruth Orkin; it includes interviews with Cornell Capa, Mary Ellen Mark and Ninalee Craig. Written, Produced and Directed by Mary Engel.

LITTLE FUGITIVE (USA: 1953), 80 min. Produced by Morris Engel and Ray Ashley Written and Directed by Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin and Ray Ashley

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