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Carlotta CorpronCarlotta Corpron was born in 1901 in Minnesota but grew up in India where her father was a missionary surgeon. She returned to the United States in 1920 and received a BS degree in Art Education from Michigan State Normal College in 1925. After completing her MA degree from Columbia University in 1926, she taught at the Women's College of Alabama (now Huntington's College), and at the University of Cincinnati. In 1935, she came to TSCW where she taught until her retirement in 1968.

In 1942, Laszlo Molholy-Nagy, photographic innovator, who had taught at the Bauhaus School in Chicago, came to Denton to teach at TSCW. Corpron was placed in charge of Moholy-Nagy's light workshop, and under him, she learned to use a light modulator, any device constructed to distort, refract, or reflect light on objects. In 1944, Gyorgy Kepes, who had been Moholy-Nagy's assistant came to North Texas State University (University of North Texas) to teach. Corpron contacted him, and they met weekly during his stay in Denton to talk about photography. Kepes introduced her to the light box, and she called her resulting work Light Pattern photographs.

In about 1945 or 1946, Corpron visited Alfred Stieglitz in New York, and he expressed interest in giving Corpron an exhibition. However, he became ill and died before that could take place.

Corpron had a on-person exhibit at the Dallas museum of Fine Arts in 1948 and was invited to send photographs to the Abstraction of Photograph Exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in 1952. After exhibiting her work at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1953, Corpron became discouraged when "no one paid attention to that show." Then because of health problems, Corpron gave up photography and devoted herself to teaching until her retirement in 1968.

Her work was seldom exhibited until 1975 when her work was accepted into Women of Photography: A Historical Survey at the San Francisco Museum of Art. In 1977, she had a one-woman exhibit at Marcuse Pfiefer Gallery in New York City. In 1980, a retrospective of her life's work was exhibited at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth. Gyorgy Kepes wrote in the foreword to the Amon Carter exhibition catalog, "She graciously considered me her teacher, but that was a misnomer for my role. She hardly needed my guidance, or anybody's."

Ms. Corpron divided her body of work into categories. The first was the Nature Studies, but she moved on from these to more experimental work. Next were the Light Drawings, Light Patterns, Light Follows Form, Space Compositions, and finally Fluid Light Designs.

According to Susan kae Grant of Texas Woman's University, "Given the historical significance and excellence of her photographic imagery, Carlotta Corpron is an important contributor to the myth and reality of Texas women."

Nature Dancer
Nature Dancer, 1944
photograph
Courtesy of Dr. David and Julie Ostransky

Eggs Reflected and Multiplied
Eggs Reflected and Multiplied, 1948
photograph
Courtesy of PDNB, Burt and Missy Finger

page last updated 7/13/2017 3:24 PM