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Ruth orkin, american girl in italy, howard greenberg gallery, 2020

A photographer’s gift is to record his or her encounters with the world in pictures. If that photographer meets with success, pictures from their archive are published in magazines and books, exhibited in museums and galleries, licensed for commercial use, and sold as prints. With careful planning, these images have a life that endures well beyond that of the artist, through the continuing efforts of a legacy keeper. 

 

Such is the relationship between the trailblazing work of 20th-Century photographer Ruth Orkin and the ongoing endeavors of her daughter, Mary Engel, who inherited Orkin’s archive in 1985. 

 

“It's a wonderful legacy, but a huge responsibility, and 35 years later that still rings true,” says Engel of her efforts. “My job, generally, is to keep the work out there, and that's why I do what I do.”