Combining craft and photography, Nettles’s work makes use of wide-ranging tools and materials, including fabric and stitching, instamatic cameras, the book format, manually applied color, and hand‐coated photographic emulsions. Her imagery evokes metaphors that reference key stages in the lives of women, often with autobiographic undertones, and her key motifs draw upon mythology, family, motherhood, place, landscape, dreams, aging, and the passage of time.
Recognized for her innovations in mixed media photography, Nettles has taught photography and visual book-making since 1970, when she completed her MFA in the School of Art + Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she later taught from 1984 to 2008. Her alternative processes textbook Breaking the Rules: A Photo Media Cookbook has influenced generations of readers, and she has delivered lectures and workshops internationally. Her work is in museum collections throughout the United States and Canada, and her artists’ books can be found in special collections libraries, including significant holdings at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Illinois.
A 200+ page, fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Jamie M. Allen, George Eastman Museum; Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, former Director, The Sheldon Art Galleries; and Amy L. Powell, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum accompanies the exhibition.