When children’s author, Kem Sawyer of Washington, DC, learned that there was an exhibition of Hungarian photographer, André Kertész at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, she was thrilled. Sawyer had been told by a friend some 10 years earlier that a photograph of her at age nine in her mother’s children’s dress shop in New York City was in the book, “On Reading André Kertész,” including some of Kertész photographs on reading. She had never, however, been able to see the photograph herself. The photo was taken in 1962.
Over Thanksgiving this year, Sawyer learned in the “Washington Post” that the exhibition, André Kertész: On Reading, a series of photographs made by legendary Hungarian photographer André Kertész (1894–1985), was on display at the Museum. Sawyer, who wanted to surprise her mother on her 85 birthday, called the Museum to arrange the visit. Coincidentally, her mother had seen the same listing in the “Washington Post.” Both traveled to Easton the day after Thanksgiving, along with Sawyer’s husband Jon, to see the photograph for the first time.
In the photo, Sawyer was seated outside her mother’s shop window, appearing to be reading to a doll seated inside. A distinctive smocked dress hung in the shop window – a dress Sawyer would bring with her to the Museum, along with the Nancy Drew book that she was reading in the photograph. Nancy Drew mysteries were some of Sawyer’s favorite books as a child. Although a lifelong reader, little did she know that one day she would become a children’s author herself.
Upon seeing the image for the first time, Sawyer’s mother, Evelyn Knapp of Washington, DC, commented, “The photograph brings back the past. It’s nice to remember the store on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village.”
Sawyer adds, “We now have a seven-year old granddaughter. This photograph makes me think of her.”
Kem Sawyer is a biographer for intermediate readers. She has written biographies on such historical figures as Gandhi, Anne Frank, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, and Harriet Tubman. She has also written one novel, “Freedom Calls: Journey of a Slave Girl.”
The Kertész’s exhibition examines the photographer’s penchant for the poetry and choreography of life in public and also private moments at home, examining the power of reading as a universal pleasure. The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois. The exhibition tour is organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions. Exhibition Sponsors include the Maryland State Arts Council and the Talbot County Arts Council.
For further information, visit www.academyartmuseum.org or call 410-822-2787.
In photo: Pictured is Kem Sawyer of Washington, DC, visiting the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, where she discovered a 1962 photograph by André Kertész of her at age nine. Sawyer is holding a copy of the Nancy Drew mystery she was reading in the Kertész photograph of her outside her mother’s shop window in New York City. The photographic exhibition, André Kertész: On Reading, is a series of photographs made by legendary Hungarian photographer André Kertész (1894–1985), examining the power of reading as a universal pleasure. The exhibition is on display at the Museum through January 15, 2012.