Recent Acquisition | Mingo Boys with Water Snake

Mingo Boys with Water Snake

Jeff Whetstone (American, born 1968), Mingo Boys with Water Snake, 2005. Gelatin silver print. Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund (2018-81). © Jeff Whetstone

Mingo Boys with Water Snake (2005) is part of Whetstone’s New Wilderness project, exploring how the American wilderness accommodates the constant presence of the human figure. The series probes cultural connections to the mythology surrounding the wild that emerge in our contemporaneity. As Whetstone has noted: "What I want to photograph is the wilderness of the present . . . I photograph the frontier, the place we are drawn by instinct to tame. I describe the tense balance between the people and the land, between the wild and the controlled, and depict a nature from which we are inextricable."

In the exhibition Confronting Childhood , Whetstone’s Mingo Boys with Water Snake connects well to Sally Mann’s treatment of landscape in the context of childhood experience in Under Blueberry Hill, in which Mann photographed one of her children in a river at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in her native Virginia. 

In both Whetstone’s and Mann’s work, romanticism is replaced with a far less idyllic wilderness, both in the portrayal of childhood and in the landscape.

Jeff Whetstone joined the Princeton faculty in 2015 as professor of visual arts at the Lewis Center for the Arts. Click here to read about how he uses other photographs in the Art Museum’s collections for his teaching.

Under Blueberry Hill

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Under Blueberry Hill, 1991. Gelatin silver print. Museum purchase, Philip F. Maritz, Class of 1983, Photography Acquisitions Fund (2016-46). © Sally Mann, Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery