En Foco / In Focus: Selected Works from the Permanent Collection

September 1, 2011 – January 31, 2012
Robert B. Menschel Gallery
Reception: Sat, Nov 5, 1:30-3:30pm

Related event:

Raising the Bar: A Tertulia with Artists from En Foco’s Permanent Collection
Tuesday, October 4, 6–7:30pm
Calumet Photographic, 22 West 22nd Street, 2nd Floor (between 5th & 6th Ave), New York, NY

Several artists in En Foco’s Permanent Collection will converse about the roles that Latinos and other artists of color play in the history of American photography, acknowledging a part of photographic history largely absent from mainstream photography and unseen by the public. Featuring Chuy Benitez, Ana de Orbegoso, Lola Flash, Justine Reyes, and Elizabeth Ferrer, Moderator. See details at www.enfoco.org.

A group of young Puerto Rican photographers based in New York, including Charles Biasiny Rivera, Roger Caban, and Phil Dante, founded En Foco in 1974. They sought to create opportunities for their own work to be seen in an era when Latinos and African Americans had little place in the worlds of art and photography. At the same time, they wanted to present images—whether by themselves or others—that portrayed life in their own communities. These photographers represent a pioneering generation; Latinos and African Americans were then largely absent from the history of the medium in the United States, whether as image makers or as subjects. En Foco worked to address this gap, as an organization focused on promoting cultural diversity in the field of photography.

Now in its fourth decade, En Foco is recognized among photographers for its exhibitions, publications, annual New Works fellowship program, workshops, and exhibitions. Much less known is the photographic collection it has amassed of prints by the photographers who have taken part in the organization’s programs. Today, the collection numbers nearly 700 works of diverse subject matter, artistic approaches, and points of view. It is comprised of images and artists that remain largely excluded from published surveys of photography, museum collections, and academic curricular; in sum, it presents rich evidence of a parallel history of recent photography. This exhibition—the first comprehensive showing of a selection of these works—is divided into three sections that chart the early years of En Foco and the subsequent generations of photographers who have been nurtured by its programs and presence.

Elizabeth Ferrer
Guest Curator

Featured Artists:

Adál, Sama Alshaibi, Don Gregorio Antón, Chuy Benitez, Louis Carlos Bernal, Dawoud Bey, Charles Biasiny-Rivera, Samantha Box, Roger Cabán, Gerald Cyrus, Phil Dante, Ana de Orbegoso, Luis Delgado-Qualtrough, Dean Dempsey, Lola Flash, Ricky Flores, Myra Greene, Muriel Hasbun, Kenro Izu, Stephen Marc, Rania Matar, Larry McNeil, Groana Melendez, Frank X. Méndez, Héctor Méndez Caratini, Tony Mendoza, Nestor Millán, Delilah Montoya, Pipo Nguyen-duy, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Dulce Pinzón, Juan Sánchez, Hong-An Truong, Víctor Vázquez, Wendel A. White, and Hank Willis Thomas.

This exhibition will be traveling. Not all artists will be displayed in the Light Work gallery, but all will be represented in an accompanying digital slideshow. For the full list of artists, visit www.enfoco.org.

In addition to Light Work, the En Foco / In Focus exhibition is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the Bronx Council on the Arts, Canson Infinity, Archival Methods, and Syracuse University’s Division of Student Affairs Co-curricular Fund.