COPIA II celebrates new photographs that have entered the Harn Museum of Art’s collection in the last six years, with a few other photographs rarely or never shown before. Copia was the Roman Goddess of Abundance, often portrayed holding a cornucopia; the Latin word copia implies “wealth, variety, fertility,” as well as “a prized, expansive language found in the ancient rhetoricians.” It makes a fitting title for an exhibition featuring photography, a persuasive visual language; and it illustrates the museum’s photography collection which has grown in abundance and variety through the copious generosity of Harn supporters.
The selection of images in this second edition of COPIA consist of diverse photographers and eras arranged in groups that share “chance” similarities. They are the same but different, conveying to the viewer nonverbal, surprising or gratifying narrative arcs.
When the Harn Museum first opened in 1990, approximately 360 photographs were transferred to the museum from the University Gallery. In the decade-and-a-half that followed, the collection grew slowly. The first Curator of Photography was named in 2005, the following curator in 2012. Since then, the collection is now 2,500+ images strong, made possible through donors’ gifts of fine art prints and benefactors who have established Harn Acquisition Endowment funds. Such philanthropic support is the lifeblood of museums. It allows an institution to shape collections and educational programs fitting their region, audience and mission statement. Moreover, it offers curators a rich palate from which to create unique and timely exhibitions.