Highlights from the Light Work Collection: Dawoud Bey

March 18 – May 17, 2024
Jeffrey J. Hoone Gallery
Light Work


Curated from our collection, Light Work is pleased to present a selection from two of Dawoud Bey’s photographic projects: An American Project and Embracing Eatonville.

Black-and-white images from An American Project, made in Syracuse in 1985 during his artist residency, chronicle the community and history of the city. These prints were recently gifted by Bey and Stephen Daiter Gallery to celebrate the dedication of the Jeffrey J. Hoone Gallery. Embracing Eatonville was a photographic survey of Eatonville, FL—the oldest Black-incorporated town in the United States—that featured work by Dawoud Bey, Lonnie Graham, Carrie Mae Weems, and Deborah Willis, and was exhibited at Light Work in 2003. Bey made color photographs of high school students combining their portraits with text sharing personal hopes, fears, and dreams.

“I was invited to do a residency at Light Work in 1985, after being introduced to the organization by my friends, photographers Michael Spano and Sy Rubin. Applying and being accepted has remained an important highlight of my career almost forty years later. It was the first time I was also able to have the kind of absolute support that allowed me to have what is still one of my most productive months ever as an artist. That support was something that I’d never experienced before, and it allowed for a profound burst of creative activity, going out into the Syracuse community every day to make photographs without the worry about how that investment of time would be remunerated.”

– Dawoud Bey

Dawoud Bey (born 1953) is an American photographer and educator renowned for his large-scale photographs including American adolescents in relation to their community, and other marginalized subjects. In 2017, Bey was the recipient of a “Genius Grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Currently living in Chicago, Illinois, Bey is Professor Emeritus at Columbia College Chicago, and is represented by Sean Kelly Gallery (New York), Rena Bransten Gallery (San Francisco), and Stephen Daiter Gallery (Chicago).