Writers in Focus at Doheny Memorial Library
Helene Galen, Michael Childers and Dean Catherine Quinlan at the opening reception for "Author Author"
“Author Author,” a new exhibition in Doheny Library, features the work of Michael Childers, who has photographed a wide range of artists over the course of his career. On display are intimate portraits of such well-known writers as Ray Bradbury, Michael Cunningham, Eve Ensler, Arianna Huffington, Groucho Marx, and many others.
At the July 11 opening, Dean Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries welcomed Childers and discussed the role of libraries in highlighting work such as his. “Through our exhibitions, we recognize the beauty—the aesthetic merit—of photographs like Michael’s—but we also acknowledge the process, the practice, and the artistic labor necessary to create them. We place artistic achievement in context—using our exhibitions to reveal relationships that connect and give meaning to the work of the individual artistic or scholarly talent. Such context lives and thrives in our libraries’ collections,” said Quinlan.
Childers, the founding photographer for Andy Warhol’s “Interview Magazine,” recounted some of the intense encounters he had during his photo shoots. He spoke of earning the approval of novelist Gore Vidal, who was notoriously critical of photographers, and his delight in engaging writers Tennessee Williams and Christopher Isherwood to capture revealing portraits.
The exhibition marks Childers first collaboration with the USC Libraries and highlights the photographer’s relationship with literature and libraries. Growing up in South Carolina, he befriended his local librarian, who introduced him to writers and encouraged him to read. Childers recalled spending countless hours in the library becoming acquainted with authors he later had the opportunity to photograph.
In 2003, the Palm Springs Desert Museum presented a hugely successful retrospective of Childers’ work, entitled “Icons and Legends.” He received the Crystal Lens Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hollywood photography on Jan. 7, 2013, from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Childers is currently at work on his autobiography “And I Have the Pictures to Prove It.”
“Author Author” will be on display on the ground floor of Doheny Library through Sept. 15, 2013. A guide to the exhibition is available online at libguides.usc.edu/author and includes links to the books and screenplays by the writers on display that are among the USC Libraries’ collections.