Press Releases

news release Joe Vitone Explores 20 Years of Family Life in and around Akron in Akron Art Museum Exhibition

For Release: April 11, 2019

Akron, Ohio—Akron native Joe Vitone lives and works in Austin, Texas, but every summer for the past 20 years he has traveled back to Ohio to photograph family members living in and around Akron. Begun in 1998, the artist’s series captures ever-changing relationships between parents and children, siblings, spouses, cousins and other relations, and it reflects experiences common to families across the United States, including marriage, divorce, addiction, new homes, unemployment, new jobs and babies. With Joe Vitone: Family Records, the Akron Art Museum will present 55 of Vitone’s portraits, which the artist created both in color and black and white, using 8 x 10-inch and 4 x 5-inch view cameras. The exhibition opens on Saturday, April 27, 2019. It is the first time this body of work has been exhibited in Northeast Ohio.

Associate Curator Theresa Bembnister said, “The photographs tell the story of a family whose lives have been shaped by a 100-year history of sociological and economic forces affecting our region.”

Initially, Vitone did not expect the portraits to evolve into an ongoing series spanning more two decades.

“I liked the idea of photographing my family in part to make a record of them,” Vitone explains. “I didn’t know how long it would last. I was doing it for myself and had no intention of showing it.”

That changed when a curator spotted photographs from what would become the Family Records series hanging in the artist’s studio. In 2000, they were included in a group exhibition at Art League Houston, and The Museum of Fine Arts Houston later purchased a portrait of Vitone’s mother from the exhibition.

Family Records incorporates an aural dimension to complement the photographs. Bembnister said, “These photoshoots provide an opportunity for relatives to catch up. Vitone talks to his subjects, asking them how they are doing. He then compiles details of the conversations into short captions for his photographs.”

Visitors to Family Records can listen to the artist tell his family stories in his own voice by connecting to

Joe Vitone: Family Records will be on view from April 27 through October 27, 2019.

Joe Vitone: Family Records is organized by the Akron Art Museum with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ohio Arts Council and the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation.

Accompanying Programs
Joe Vitone: Family Records Gallery Talk
Saturday, May 18, 2019 • 10:30 – 11:30 A.M.
Get better acquainted with Joe Vitone’s Family Records during this tour with Associate Curator Theresa Bembnister. Free for museum members. Registration is required.

For more information about Joe Vitone: Family Records at the Akron Art Museum, visit the museum at Join the conversation on social media using #AkronArtMuseum and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or subscribe to the museum's e-newsletter.

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