Dallas-based Michna-Bales combines documentary photography with historical re-enactment to make the past feel more alive. In Inez Milholland she found the ideal subject for commemorating the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving American women the right to vote. During the course of a year, Michna-Bales retraced Milholland’s cross-country odyssey. She found that while many of the theaters where Milholland had spoken had long since been torn down, other locations, where Michna-Bales was able to set up the tableaux she photographed, were still standing, including historic hotels and small-town train depots. And many of the mountain, prairie, and desert landscapes—where the “sunset splashed the mountains and river with crimson,” as Milholland described a route to Oregon in letters to her husband in New York City, Eugen Boissevain—appeared little changed.
Jeanine Michna-Bales is a fine artist working in the medium of photography. Her work explores our fundamentally important relationships – to the land, to other people, and to oneself – and how they impact contemporary society. Her work lives at the intersection of curiosity and knowledge, documentary and fine art, past and present, anthropology and sociology, and environmentalism and activism. Her practice is based on in-depth research – taking into account different viewpoints, causes, and effects, political climates – and she often incorporates primary source material into her projects.
Michna-Bales’s work is in many permanent collections including Archive of Documentary Arts, Duke University, Durham, NC; Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; Lehigh University Art Galleries, Bethlehem, PA; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Louisiana State University, Hill Memorial Library, Baton Rouge, LA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX; and University of North Texas, Denton, TX.