Lanie McNulty debuts photo series on the female experience

New York City-based photographer and social activist Lanie McNulty debuts her photo series and book, The Angel in the House, connecting a series of women from today back to the original notion of the female experience.

The touchstone for this body of work is Virginia Woolf’s warning that women must reject paternalistic notions of “the Angel in the House,” the idealized woman of great beauty and purity who adopts male desires about what a woman should be and say. Proving herself to be a capable inheritor of Woolf’s occupation, McNulty has meticulously constructed large-scale, cinematic images that reveal the interior lives of modern women as they know themselves.

Working in the tradition of artists like Julia Margaret Cameron, Gertrude Stanton Käsebier, and Lady Clementina Hawarden, the series builds on an era when female artists embraced domestic themes and were excluded from “important” art subjects such as history and nudes. By staging her images of life on the home front in close collaboration with her subjects, in what she calls “photo improv,” McNulty’s images are designed to be as unscripted as possible. Behind the scenes, immense deliberation and exploration go into developing each visual metaphor, turning her subject’s homes into densely detailed sets. The images each communicate their own narrative and collectively offer insights into the “women question” at a time when the pandemic year has revealed the outsized role women play holding our families and communities together.

“We are at an inflection point,” McNulty said. “The Trump era, #MeToo movement, and now the pandemic have pulled back the curtain on the myth of a level playing field for women. We now have a chance to set a new course, but first we need to take a closer look at women’s lives beneath perfected facades. That’s what my subjects and I set out to do with The Angel in the House.”

For the first time, fourteen photographs from the series will be on display at Planthouse Gallery (55 West 28th Street, New York, NY 10001) where viewers will have the opportunity to cultivate their own conclusions about how modern women are faring. Each image will be on display beginning through October 23.

“Planthouse Gallery is a collaborative project space with a non-traditional gallery model,” Katie Michel, Founder of Planthouse Gallery, said. “With a strong focus on social justice, we work with a lot of social activists, so we are honored to work again with Lanie and showcase such a revelatory and timely series.”


Lanie McNulty is a New York-based artist and social activist. Her photography projects include Lifted Up in New York City, From the Ashes of Rwanda, and The Angel in the House. Working in other media, she has created a series of tapestries called Say a Little Prayer for U.S. In her most recent work, McNulty has developed a collaborative process for creating staged, narrative images. She calls this process: “photo improv.”

McNulty’s work has been presented in several solo and group exhibitions and is included in the permanent collections of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Collection at New York Public Library, and several private collections. She has received the Bronx Borough President’s Citation for Outstanding Contribution by an Artist and the International Art Movement’s Encounter Award. Interviews with McNulty about her work as an artist and activist are available on “Tastemakers with Pauline Brown,” “That Black Girl Radio Show,” and the International Art Movement’s “I AM IAM” podcast.

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Founded in 2013 by Katie Michel, Planthouse Gallery is a project space located on 28th street in New York City. Planthouse took its namesake from its original home located on the storied block between Sixth and Seventh Avenues that represents the vibrant center of city’s flower district. In 2015, the gallery relocated nearby, to 55 West 28th Street, trading in tulips and trees for the wholesale shops that now populate Tin Pan Alley, the strip between Fifth and Sixth Avenues which historically housed the city’s musicians, shops, and musical publishers in the early twentieth century.

Planthouse is located on the parlor floor of a brownstone dating back to this period, and we hope the (colorful) ghosts of the past will continue to inspire our future and our commitment to exhibiting and publishing the contemporary work of emerging and established artists.

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