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Art Gets Awkward At Fort Collins Exhibit

Have you ever wanted to highlight the more cringeworthy moments that have happened in your life? Like when you thought getting a portrait taken with your pet snake would be really cool, or that time you and your mom had matching haircuts.

The Awkward Family Photos exhibition does just that.

Exhibiting the show was a risk, said Lisa Hatchadoorian, Museum of Art Fort Collins executive director.

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Credit Courtesy of AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com/Museum of Art Fort Collins
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The Awkward Family Photos traveling exhibition features more than 200 images -- and their accompanying backstories.

“To be perfectly honest, I went back and forth on it for a while because it isn’t your typical, serious exhibition,” Hatchadoorian said. “But in the end, what convinced me is that art doesn’t have to be serious all the time. There’s something so wonderfully, gloriously funny and off-kilter (...) about these photographs that I thought people would find joy in and could relate to, because we all have moments like this.”

There’s also the nostalgia factor, Hatchadoorian said.

“A lot of the photos come from the ‘70s, ‘80s, '90s,” she said. “A lot of, ‘Thank God that part of our lives is over, but we can now look back on it and laugh.’”

That may be more important than people realize. A lot of art produced in the current climate has either a strong social or political message, or the complete opposite, Hatchadoorian said.

It’s not the first time that’s happened.

“Around the time of World War II, you had art that was stridently political, or you had (art that was a form of) escapism,” she said. “Maybe sometimes your spirit just needs the break.”

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Credit Courtesy of Lisa Hatchadoorian
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Lisa Hatchadoorian submitted this photo of her husband, Steve Keim (right) posing with his sister, Becky, on Easter Sunday, 1959.

The show will feature more than 200 images -- along with the stories behind them -- from AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com. The popular website was launched in 2009 by two childhood friends after reminiscing about the odd moments captured in their favorite family photos.

In addition, the traveling show will feature awkward photos from local families. So far, more than 50 photos have been received, said Hatchadoorian, who submitted a photo of her husband and his sister on Easter.

“They’re dressed up like dolls and they’re just beside themselves with anger and tears, they’re crying, and their faces are all screwed up,” she said. “They can’t handle it, and it just makes me laugh every time.”

Awkward Family Photos will be on display through July 15 at the Museum of Art Fort Collins. The museum will host several events around the exhibition, including a photo bomb workshop and a concert with local musician Danielle Ate the Sandwich.

Editor's Note: Museum of Art Fort Collins is an underwriter with KUNC.

Stacy was KUNC's arts and culture reporter from 2015 to 2021.
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