HNY Lecture Series // The Archive and Home of Lora Webb Nichols: A conversation on photography and home with Nicole Jean Hill and Nancy Anderson. Moderated by Victoria Munro
The Alice Austen House known affectionately as ‘Clear Comfort’ by the Austen Family will host an exhibition exploring the theme of home in the work of photographer Lora Webb Nichols in the fall of 2023. The exhibition will be curated by Nicole Jean Hill and supported by the Alice Austen House. In this virtual discussion we will view photographs from the Nichols archive and discuss the artist’s connection to home and its representation in her work.
Nicole Jean Hill is an artist using photography and video to explore familiar spaces and activities within the American cultural and natural landscape. Nicole Jean Hill is the co-curator of the Lora Webb Nichols collections, housed at the American Heritage Center in Laramie, Wyoming. Lora Webb Nichols (1883-1962) created and collected approximately 24,000 negatives over the course of her lifetime in the mining town of Encampment, Wyoming. The images chronicle the domestic, social, and economic aspects of the sparsely populated frontier of south-central Wyoming throughout the early 20th century. Nicole Jean Hill has been working on preserving this archive in collaboration with Nancy Anderson since 2013, including digitizing the photographs, organizing the corresponding text, recovering the photographer’s diaries and letters, and collaborating with the Grand Encampment Museum and the American Heritage Center to secure a permanent home for the negatives.
Nancy Anderson has been a teacher, librarian, and rancher and continues as a gatherer and source of stories and artifacts associated with Carbon County, Wyoming. Her home is Heap-o-livin, Encampment, Wyoming, the former home of Laura Webb Nichols.
Victoria Munro is the Executive Director of the Alice Austen House, a nationally designated site of LGBTQ+ history and the only museum in America to represent the work of a solo woman photographer, Alice Austen (1866-1952). Victoria is an Art and Art History Educator, Maker and Photographic Curator. Victoria consults and speaks on LGBTQ+ curriculum development and historical and current LGBTQ+ interpretations in public and private institutions. Victoria is the Board President of the Museums Council of New York City and serves on the Executive Board of Historic Artists Homes and Studios.
Lora Webb Nichols (1883-1962) created and collected approximately 24,000 negatives over the course of her lifetime in the mining town of Encampment, Wyoming. The images chronicle the domestic, social, and economic aspects of the sparsely populated frontier of south-central Wyoming.
Nichols received her first camera in 1899 at the age of 16, coinciding with the rise of the region’s copper mining boom. The earliest photographs are of her immediate family, self-portraits, and landscape images of the cultivation of the region surrounding the town of Encampment. In addition to the personal imagery, the young Nichols photographed miners, industrial infrastructure, and a small town’s adjustment to a sudden, but ultimately fleeting, population increase.
As early as 1906, Nichols was working for hire as a photographer for industrial documentation and family portraits, developing and printing from a darkroom she fashioned in the home she shared with her husband and their children. After the collapse of the copper industry, Nichols remained in Encampment and established the Rocky Mountain Studio, a photography and photo finishing service, to help support her family. Her commercial studio was a focal point of the town throughout the 1920s and 1930s.