Capturing the life of Ida Wyman

Capturing the life of Ida Wyman


Dane Sheehan

Display featuring photos and memorabilia from Wyman’s lives.

Danielle Kronau, Assistant Arts & Rec Editor

The campus and community celebrated the life and work of a famed photographer at a reception for the “Ida Wyman: Heart and Mind” exhibit in the Crossman Gallery Monday, Sept. 9.

The event was an opportunistic time for attendees to experience the kind of work that Wyman produced as a professional photographer from her roots in the Bronx of New York City to her later years when she moved to Madison at age 80. Wyman died this past July at the age of 93, but her work continues to inspire audiences across the world, as well as on the UW – Whitewater campus.

As a photographer in the 1940s, Wyman was a courageous woman who worked in a male dominated field. The first step in her career she took was being the first “girl” mailroom boy at Acme News Pictures. She would then become the first female printer before being fired in 1945 when men returned to their jobs after World War II.

From there, she began pitching her photos to magazines and became the chief photographer of Columbia University. Her path in photography has left an inspiring mark on the field of photography.

But besides some of her most well-known photos taken for Life and Look magainzes, the exhibit is also a chance for admirers and those close to her to see some of the newer work that she did in the framed photos lining the walls. Many had not been seen until this exhibition.

Erica DeGlopper is one of the curators of Crossman Gallery and a close friend of Wyman who coordinated the showing.

“She was part of the Photo League. It was a Jewish Social Photography Group that was from 1935 to 1951. Those were the Master Street Photographers of New York at the time, and she was included in part of that group towards the tail end. And she did a hundred stories for Life Magazine.  She’s one of the greats,” said DeGlopper.

Wyman’s granddaughter, Heather Garrison had tears gleaming in her eyes as she remembered her grandmother and all that she accomplished during her photography years.

“I wish she were here, for sure, but it’s such a testament to her talent and who she was as a person. And I’m happy, and I know she’s smiling down too,” Garrison said. “I think she had some sort of innate talent. She was in a photography club in high school and the adviser had worked at Life Magazine, and so encouraged her to just keep taking photos. And I’m sure she had other people – mentors and what not – but it started from a very early age.”

It was a coordinated effort to bring Wyman’s work to campus. Dale Kaminski is one of the curators, as well as and the arts and media coordinator in the College of Arts and Communication.

“We were really lucky to get this exhibition. Ida worked for Life Magazine and her photographs were in over 100 issues. She traveled throughout the U.S., as well as Mexico and France during her photographic career. We hope that this exhibition brings more attention to this important artist,” Kaminski said.

The show is a one-of-a-kind experience for students, staff, faculty and community members to attend. The show will continue until October 5 for those that would like to visit the Crossman Gallery and look at photos taken by a world famous photographer.