Ida Wyman began her career in the male-dominated world of photojournalism in 1943 at the age of 17. She has since achieved great things working as a freelance photographer based in the Bronx for such publications as Life Magazine and The New York Times.

Fortunately for Madisonians, Wyman left the Bronx in 2006 and fled to our isthmus, where it took two years to decide it was time to take on her first ever one-person show in a museum. The final project is titled ?Individual Experience: The Photographs of Ida Wyman.?

On Friday, Wyman will be giving a talk about her exhibition as part of First Fridays, a monthly celebration of fine art at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA).

The 25 black-and-white images on display span four decades of urban experience in the bustling metropolises of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City.

As the exhibition?s title suggests, the photographs depict primarily individuals rather than groups. In addition, there is a definite connection between the individuals and their surroundings in the photographs. In some images, such as ?Newsboy with Checkered Shirt? (1950, Los Angeles), Wyman conveys that link through an individual person?s relationship to an institution. The narrative suggested by ?Newsboy? might run something like this: the newspaper brings the boy in contact with other people in the city, expanding his social network and helping to incorporate him into society.

Though most often a hopeful message, there is a darker emotional current which also runs through the images. Rather than interpreting the photographs as uplifting, the viewer may see them as representative of the isolation of living in a city. In the case of the boy and the newspaper, one could argue that the latter only gives a superficial social outlet to the former ? an outlet that facilitates superficial interaction at best and might deprive the child of time with his family and or schoolmates.

This tension between the individual and the institution permeates all of Wyman?s works, which encourages the viewer to consider whether the city is a positive or negative environment.

Another compelling characteristic of Wyman?s photography is its powerful authenticity. She achieves this quality particularly though her use of still-life photography.

The inanimate objects in paintings are there because of the artist?s hand, but the objects in her photography are the result of an individual?s or institution?s action. For example, a Virgin Mary statue on the bookshelf and cluttered magazines on the desk of ?Woman Typing? (1983, New York City) do not appear in the photo because Wyman wanted them to. They are there because the typing woman, or someone with whom she was closely associated, put the objects there.

Although this phenomenon of authentic still-life may seem to be merely a natural quality of her medium, viewing the exhibition makes it clear that Wyman chose carefully the frames of urban life she would portray. Although she does not place the objects in her photos, she captures images containing still objects that speak to the subject?s character.

Ida Wyman will be speaking at 6:30 p.m. in the lecture hall of the MMoCA, which is located in the Overture Center for the Arts.

The theme of this month?s installment of First Fridays is ?Black and White.? Admission is free for members, $5 for nonmembers and free for anyone dressed in black and white. Outside of tomorrow?s event, Wyman?s work will be on display Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Works-on-Paper Study Center of MMoCA.