Light Work is pleased to announce the 42nd annual Light Work Grants in Photography. The 2016 recipients are Robert Knight, Lida Suchy, and Marion Wilson. The Light Work Grants in Photography program is a part of Light Work’s ongoing effort to provide support and encouragement to artists working in photography. Established in 1975, it is one of the longest-running photography fellowship programs in the country. Each recipient receives a $3,000 award, has their work exhibited at Light Work, and is published in Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual. The judges for this year were Kalia Brooks (former Exhibitions Director, Museum of Contemporary Africa Diasporan Arts and Adjunct Professor, Tisch School of the Arts at New York University), Elizabeth Cheng Krist (former Senior Photo Editor, National Geographic), and Sarah Stolfa (Executive Director, Philadelphia Photo Art Center).
Robert Knight received an MFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and a BA in Architecture and Economics from Yale University. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Danforth Museum of Art in Massachusetts, Jen Bekman Gallery in New York, the LaGrange Museum in Georgia, The Bascom in North Carolina, the Houston Center for Photography in Texas, and at photography festivals in Nantes, Le Mans and Arles, France. Recent solo exhibitions include Rated G at Gallery Kayafas, Boston, MA; In God’s House at the Munson Williams Proctor Art Museum, Utica, NY; and Class of 2015 at the Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, NY. His work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and other private collections. Robert is currently Assistant Professor of Art at Hamilton College.
The presence of structures used for ritual gatherings has been one of the universal features of human communities throughout history. Population migrations have resulted in the repurposing of these spaces for other religious uses, despite what might seem to be vast differences in dogma and creed. For this reason, many of these gathering spaces are among the oldest extant buildings in our cities and towns today. This universal demand for sacred spaces, and the temporality of man’s presence within them, has drawn me to examine the changing nature of these structures and the communities they serve.
For the past three years, I have been making photographs of religious spaces in the US and Europe, and looking specifically for spaces that represent a state of transition in some way. In many cases this has meant photographing centuries-old Christian spaces with diminishing attendance due to rising secularism, or spaces whose purpose has shifted to serving a new faith or a new demographic. But it has also meant photographing purpose-built spaces for new immigrants, such as the Muslim populations that have arrived in recent decades in the US and Europe. In each case, I have photographed the space during a religious service, capturing not only the physical presence of the structure but also the community of worshipers themselves. In these necessarily long exposure images, the congregants nearly disappear, leaving the buildings as repositories of past histories and potential futures.
Detailed captions provide context about each space and its particular circumstances. Examples of the spaces I have photographed include a Euro-American Baptist church that has thrived by welcoming refugees from Burma, an Episcopal church converted into a Buddhist temple, an historic Catholic church converted into a mosque, and a Catholic church now being used by an Orthodox Christian Eritrean congregation, among other spaces.
— Robert Knight
Lida Suchy is a first-generation American, born into a refugee family and often draws on this background as inspiration for her creative work. She earned a BA in cultural anthropology from SUNY Albany, an MA from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication and an MFA from the Yale University School of Art. Suchy taught photography at Rochester Institute of Technology and Hartwick College, she has led master workshops in the USA, Italy and Ukraine. She currently teaches at Onondaga Community College and mentors students both at home and abroad. In recognition of her creative work, Suchy’s awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, Fulbright Scholarship, a Light Work Artist Residency and a Light Work Grant, a NYSCA Grant, an ArtsLink Grant, and an International Research and Exchanges Fellowship. Suchy has exhibited in galleries in the USA and Europe. Her work is included in public collections at the Brooklyn Museum, Bibliothèque Nationale, George Eastman Museum, the Franko Museum, Kryvorivnya, Ukraine and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
For more than 20 years, I have photographed in the village Kryvorivnya in Western Ukraine. In the early ‘90s I portrayed many of the village’s 2,000 inhabitants with the idea of creating a composite portrait of this community through individual portraits of its members. Recently, some two decades later, I returned to continue photographing the people and places I portrayed previously. The series “Portrait of a Village: the People of Kryvorivnya” (1992 – present) has evolved into a multilayered community portrait that now includes the notion of cultural persistence and change through the passage of time.
I first came to Kryvorivnya in the early ‘90s, shortly after Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union. Despite never having been there before the place didn’t feel unfamiliar. In my childhood growing up in the United States the environment had been described to me in detail by my parents. I grew up in a refugee family that was forced to leave Ukraine when it fell under Soviet rule. Through my photographs, I want to confront the image built up from the recollections of my parents with one of my own.
To the villagers in Kryvorivnya, my clothing and gear defined me as a stranger, yet to their surprise I speak their language and even have the distinct accent of the region. I photograph mostly with a large 8×10 inch view-camera. Photographing with this “cumbersome” tool is a slow and somewhat tedious process, (especially when compared to “shooting” quickly and unobtrusively with my small Leica). It requires patience on both sides of the lens. The portrait “sessions” are meeting points between the people in front of the camera and the photographer on the other side. The resulting photographs are a visual journal of these meetings.
In 2014 EuroMaidan, dubbed the Revolution of Dignity, swept Ukraine and numerous young people from the village participated in protests in the state capitol, Kyiv; most recently young men from the village have been conscripted to serve in the conflict area in the east of the country. Most of the images coming from Ukraine dramatize turbulence, violence and war. I am returning to Kryvorivnya to continue photographing these epochal changes as they play out in the everyday lives of ordinary people.
— Lida Suchy
Marion Wilson has built collaborative partnerships with botanists, homeless people, students and neighbors — accessing individual expertise and working non-hierarchically. Her own studio work uses artifacts of the photography industry in sculpture, painting and printed photographs; specifically researching and classifying endangered landscapes and useful and stress tolerant botanies. Wilson recently drove MossLab/The Mobile Field Station (a renovated RV as a mobile art and botany viewing lab) 1600 miles from Syracuse, NY to Miami as a special project for PULSE ART Fair 2015 collecting moss species and experiences of “first looking encounters” with species along the way. Wilson will have upcoming exhibitions and residencies at Schuykill Center for Art and Environment; McColl Center for the Arts in Charlotte, NC and Sculpture Space in Utica, NY. Her work has been published in Hyperallergic, The New York Times, Art in America and Sculpture Magazine.
Studying the diversity of moss is about paying attention to what is small, omnipresent, place based, and profoundly overlooked – and hopefully, speaks to our humanness. I research endangered landscapes and stress tolerant botanies – including moss and gingko. Over a year ago, I began studying botany, specifically moss, with bryophyte expert, Dr. Robin Kimmerer. Moss interests me scientifically and metaphorically as the first form of plant life; the most overlooked; because it references the crucifixion (moss dies and lives again); and because it continues to photosynthesize under the snow. Looking closely for me, seeing for the first time, or seeing again is both an act of wonder and an act of politics.
In these prints I blow up large these otherwise tiny images of sphagnum or sporophytes at varying microscopies – reversing my usual play with scale where I have painted landscapes on recycled pieces of photography glass.
I have lived in Syracuse, NY for twenty years and was raised in New York City, campaigning on the streets with and for my parents who were active in leftist politics. My upbringing contributes to my art practice that is attached closely to the landscape and community in which I live; and has faith in the idea that what we do on the small scale, matters on the very large scale.
— Marion Wilson
For more information about the Light Work Grants in Photography, including past recipients and how to apply, please visit www.lightwork.org/grants