Rebecca Sittler's series All the Presidents' Men was the winner of the 2015 Archive of Documentary Arts Award for Innovation in the Documentary Arts. The ADA Collection Awards were established to diversify the ADA’s collection in order to better reflect the multitude of viewpoints and communities from which work is being made in the documentary arts today.
Sittler included the following abstract about her work:
All the Presidents' Men combines photographs made in presidential museums and historic sites across the United States with images from my father and grandfather's homes. In 1959, after a spontaneous all-night road trip, my 18-year-old father met former president Harry Truman out for a morning walk on the streets of Independence, Missouri. He doesn't remember what they talked about, only the thrill of meeting a "powerful," yet "unassuming" man. Nearly 50 years later, I visited Truman's presidential museum and noticed there was little evidence of the restlessness and uncertainty that have shaped my father's generation and characterized Truman's legacy.
I am intrigued by photography's increasing role within history museums, where historical narratives intersect with the complexities of photographs, replicas, and ephemera, and are interpreted through the viewer's imagination and personal experiences. In particular, I see presidential museums as archives of a particular version of American masculinity, informed by American dreams, fictional narratives, and political rhetoric. Presidential power is reified and celebrated within the history museum while aspects of presidential identities that are more revealing of their complexity, individual struggles or humanity are only rarely or subtly articulated. These "preferred" heroic narratives have their own blind spots that are also absorbed into our political and personal lives despite the tenuous grasp they hold on the complexities of history and the multifaceted lives of men.
Rebecca Sittler is a photographer, writer, and Associate Professor of Art at California State University, Long Beach. She has exhibited her work at venues such as Sam Lee Gallery, Daviel Cooney Gallery, the Photographic Center Northwest, Torrance Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum, Atlantic Center for the Arts, RayKo Gallery, Photographic Resource Center, as well as the University of Florida, Texas Woman's University, Boston University, and Washington State University. Internationally, Sittler's photographs have been shown in Russia, South Korea, China, and England. She received her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art in 2003 where she studied with photographer Aberlardo Morell.