On June 5, 2021, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU will present “Peggy Levison Nolan: Blueprint for a Good Life,” the first solo museum show of Miami photography legend Peggy Levison Nolan.
Nolan raised her seven children as a single mother in a working-class Miami-area neighborhood alongside other families who became a source of support and occasionally served as her muses. Her work embodies intimacy and the photography in “Blueprint for a Good Life” depicts fleeting moments in time. Nolan’s photographs are personal and tap into a collective nostalgia of family and the joy of recording a family’s resiliency amidst economic and social challenges. Nolan cites three artists as the strongest influences on her work: Diane Arbus, Priscilla Forthman, and her son Abner Edward Nolan.
Nolan attended Syracuse University during the 1960s and completed her BFA at Florida International University in 1990 and her MFA in 2001. She has worked at FIU for over 23 years as an audio-visual specialist and instructor and received the FIU adjunct faculty award of the year in 2019.
“The Frost Art Museum is the right venue to present Peggy Levison Nolan’s first solo museum exhibition. The exhibition, comprised of an impressive body of photographic work from an esteemed FIU instructor, captures the complicated and inspiring dynamic of her family life over the span of two decades and celebrates the intimacy, challenges, and joy of raising a large family in South Florida during the 1980s and 1990s,” said Frost Art Museum Director Jordana Pomeroy.
“When my youngest was about three, my dad gave me an old Nikon [camera] and said, ‘make pictures of the grandchildren.’ And I got hooked. I got so hooked I can’t even describe it to you. One roll of film got me,” explains Nolan.
While Nolan’s more recent work encompasses color photography, for this earlier body of work from the 1980s and 1990s, she worked exclusively with black and white film.
Inspired by the domestic space, Nolan photographed her seven children and aspects of their life as a large, boisterous family. Nolan recounts that over time, her children eventually forgot she was documenting their every move, nap, and relationship. Nolan, steeped in the history of photography, draws on street photography with her candid and organic approach.
This exhibition marks the artist’s first solo exhibition at a museum.
“Peggy Levison Nolan’s visceral photographs invite us to participate in her family’s lived experiences. From joyous neighborhood friendship to blossoming young love, Nolan invites us on an energetic and deeply personal ride,” said Chief Curator Amy Galpin.
This exhibition is sponsored by Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz and will be on display from June 5, 2021 — August 27, 2021, for more information, please visit frost.fiu.edu.