Announcing the Light Work Photobook Award 2018

We are pleased to announce that the Light Work Photobook Award 2018 has been given to Rose Marie Cromwell, for her monograph El Libro Supremo de la Suerte, which will be co-published this year by TIS Books and Light Work. The Light Work Photobook Award is given each year to an artistic project that deserves international attention. As with all of Light Work’s programs, in selecting the artists to receive this recognition an emphasis is made to highlight emerging and underrepresented artists of diverse backgrounds.

Rose Marie Cromwell is a photographic and video artist who is based in Miami. Her work explores how globalization affects human interaction and social politics and the tenuous space between the political and the spiritual. Cromwell received a BFA degree from Maryland Institute College of Art in Art Photography in 2005, and an MFA from Syracuse University in Art Photography in 2013. Cromwell is a recipient of the Fulbright Research Grant, and a Syracuse University full-ride graduate fellowship. She was named one of “25 Under 25 Up and Coming American Photographers” by the Center for Documentary Studies in 2008, and “One to Watch” by the British Journal of Photography in 2017. She has had solo exhibitions at the Diablo Rosso gallery and the Antitesis Art Space in Panama City, and participated in the 1st Biennale del Sur in Panama City, and Prizm Art Fair in Miami. Cromwell’s artwork has been published online and in print in a variety of international magazines, including the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Vice Photo Issues, The New York Times, Camera Austria, Time Lightbox, ARC Magazine, Musee Magazine, The Oxford American, and The New Yorker. She participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in September 2014.

Rose Marie Cromwell
El Libro Supremo de la Suerte
TIS Books/Light Work, 2018
Hardcover, 192 pages
ISBN: 978-1-943146-12-3
First Edition
Signed by the artist

Rose Marie Cromwell’s debut monograph, El Libro Supremo de la Suerte (“The Supreme Book of Luck”), refers to a little piece of photocopied samizdat that supports a covert lottery in Havana, where Cromwell spent eight years living and photographing. Of the work, Paula Kupfer writes: “In exploring the visual connections between numbers—exact and absolute units of measurements—and the mystical, wayward ways of luck, as embodied by friends and family performing for her camera, Cromwell offers a lyric homage to Cuba, the place that’s shaped her practice and that, moreover, continues defying expectations and interpretations.”

Pre-order a first edition SIGNED copy of our 2019 Book Collectors Offer El Libro Supremo de la Suerte by Rose Marie Cromwell and you will also receive a complimentary subscription to Contact Sheet (a $115 value) for only $75!

Stephen C. Mahan III (1956-2018)

Light Work was bereaved to learn of the sudden passing of colleague and friend Stephen C. Mahan III, in a July 26 vehicular accident in Manlius, NY.

Mahan, the founding director of the University-based Photography and Literacy Project (PAL) and a teacher in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, was an adventure-seeking force whose boundless verve and compassion was evident in every aspect of his life. For over thirty years he was a vital leader in the Syracuse art and photography community. “His infectious enthusiasm and curiosity touched everyone he encountered and drove him to use his skills in photography to improve and enrich the lives of others,” says Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University and Light Work.

Mahan participated in many programs at Light Work including receiving a Light Work Grant in 1989 and serving on our board of directors from 2010-2018. But his most enduring contribution to the field was his work teaching literacy and life skills through photography to young students. Beginning with a collaboration with his wife, Mary Lynn Mahan, at the Ed Smith school in Syracuse, Steve went on to teach and mentor a generation of young students so that they could discover value and self-worth by exploring their talents through photography and writing.

Since 2010 Steve accomplished this work through PAL a collaborative program among the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers at SU, and the Syracuse City Schools. Located in the Nancy Cantor Warehouse the PAL Project is a model for helping students develop literacy skills by using photography, video, audio recordings, and writing.

photo credit: Carrie Mae Weems

With Steve at the helm, PAL not only offered youth exposure to the photographic medium, he cultivated a safe environment for program participants, a place in which youth, could frame, explore and share visual narratives of the world around them.

Doug Dubois, Department Chair and Associate Professor in Department of Transmedia at Syracuse University, reflected on the unique space Mahan fostered at PAL stating,

“Steve designed, furnished, equipped and ran the PAL Project as a dynamic classroom/community space in the basement of the SU Warehouse. Crammed with art books and magazines, computers of various vintages, cameras of all shapes and sizes, poetry, posters and prints from past PAL projects covering the walls, the space delighted and inspired students and visitors alike.”

Student Work: 2017 ‘Seen and Heard Project’ Photography and Literacy Project (PAL)

In his capacity as director, Mahan also taught the course Literacy, Community, and Media in VPA’s Department of Transmedia. As part of that course, University students had the opportunity to become mentors to city schoolchildren involved in the project The PAL program received national recognition and funding from the Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS) in New York City and the Fay Slover Foundation in Boston among others.

Through his incredible dedication and desire to make the world a better place, Steve touched many people, and as our thoughts go out to Steve’s family, we will do our best to honor his memory in the weeks and years to come.

Stephen C. Mahan III is survived by Stephen and Rosemarie “Riley” Mahan of Geneva, his wife Mary Lynn, daughters Riley and Sadie; two brothers Michael “Mickey” (Deborah) and Joseph “Go”, and sisters Mary Pat Longstreet (Paul) and Jean Marie Shutter (Steve), and beloved in-laws, nieces, and nephews.

If you wish to send a note of condolence please visit

Calling hours: 5-7 pm Friday, August 17 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 310 Montgomery St. Syracuse.

Memorial Service: 11:00 am, Saturday, August 18 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 310 Montgomery St. Syracuse.

In lieu of flowers, a 529 College Savings Account has been established for Sadie. Contributions can be made as follows: Checks payable to College America, memo – FBO Sadie Mahan and mail to Mary Lynn Mahan. Checks can be directed to Light Work at 316 Waverly Ave, Syracuse, NY 13244.

Stephen Mahan’s obituary in the Post Standard can be found here.
SU News article describing Stephen Mahan’s work and legacy can be found here.

Light Work Partners with For Freedoms To Launch Billboard Campaign in Syracuse, NY

In conjunction with the forthcoming exhibition, Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul: Selections From The Light Work Collection, Light Work and For Freedoms are collaborating on a series of billboard artworks in the Syracuse area. This is part of The 50 State Initiative, an ambitious new phase of For Freedoms programming that culminates this fall. Building upon the United States’ existing artistic infrastructure, For Freedoms has developed a network of artists and institutional partners, including Light Work, who will produce nationwide exhibitions, public art installations, and local community dialogues in order to introduce nuanced, artistic thinking into public discourse. Centered on the vital work of artists, these exhibitions and related projects will model how arts institutions can become forums for civic action.

The 50 State Initiative will include the installation of a series of artist-produced billboards in public and art spaces in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Billboards are going up across the country this fall in advance of midterm elections, while other educational and outreach components of the initiative will occur from September through December. Six of the billboard installations are within the city of Syracuse, New York, and will be in various locations between August 13 – October 7, 2018. The images and text that comprise these billboards aim to provoke conversations in our community that lead to civic engagement. To help easily identify billboard locations and encourage engagement, a free downloadable map with information regarding the works on view will be available to the public.

“Our hope was to spark dialogue about our collective civic responsibility to push for freedom and justice today, as those before us pushed for freedom and justice in their time through peaceful protest and political participation.”

— Eric Gottesman

Thursday, September 20 at 6pm, For Freedoms co-founder Eric Gottesman will join us for a gallery talk about the process of curating Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul and how this thematically intersects with the For Freedoms campaign artistic and art ideals.

201 South Geddes and West Fayette Street (digital billboard)

700 East Washington and Almond Street

201 South Geddes and West Fayette Street (digital billboard)

201 South Geddes and West Fayette Street (digital billboard)

Butternut and North Salina Street (side 1)

Butternut and North Salina Street (side 2)

In appropriating the billboard format, these by award-winning artists invite the viewer to engage critically with the messages their work presents as well as with the medium of political and commercial advertising itself.

Former Light Work artists-in-residence Eric Gottesman and Hank Willis Thomas started For Freedoms in 2016 as a non-partisan platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States. Inspired by Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings of the four universal freedoms that Franklin Delano Roosevelt articulated in 1941—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms seeks to use art to deepen public discussions of civic issues and core values, and to clarify that participation, not ideology, is the bedrock of citizenship in American society. For Freedoms is part of a rich history of artists employing means of mass communication to provoke political discourse. For Freedoms believes art and artists play important roles in galvanizing our society toward a more representative and transparent government.

Free Public Programs

Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul:
Selections from the Light Work Collection

August 27 – October 18, 2018
Kathleen O. Ellis and Hallway Gallery at Light Work
Reception: Thursday, September 20, 2018, 5-7pm

Gallery Talk: Eric Gottesman
Thursday, September 20, 2018, 6pm
For Freedoms co-founder Eric Gottesman will share back-story about the inception of the For Freedoms and use his curatorial selections from the Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul exhibition as talking points to ignite a dialogue about the various socially relevant topics.

Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul: Selections from the Light Work Collection exhibition and related programming are partially supported by a grant from The Central New York Community Foundation (CNYCF).

To request high-resolution images for press reproduction and interviews, contact Light Work Promotions Coordinator, Cjala Surratt directly at (315) 443-9933 or