Unnatural Creatures: Selections from the Light Work Collection

February 1 – July 22, 2016
Robert B. Menschel Gallery
Schine Student Center

Light Work is pleased to present Unnatural Creatures: Selections from the Light Work Collection. Curated by Erin Carter, Unnatural Creatures features Light Work Collection photographers Kanako Sasaki, Laura Aguilar, Tony Gleaton, among others, whose images explore the strangeness of being alive. Unnatural Creatures presents a coming-of-age story with a twist. Primarily focusing on the female body, the exhibition mines themes of gender, aging, and socialization as thought, feeling and perception converge.

Altogether, Unnatural Creatures provides a narrative of growing through life, though each image emphasizes the individual. From the precarious playfulness of Kanako Sasaki’s “Pond” to the nightmarish visions in Barbara Yoshida’s “Conversations with a Dead Pig,” Unnatural Creatures invokes the plurality of being.

In all, 15 Light Work photographers appear in Unnatural Creatures. The innocent play at maturity by Jo Ann Walter’s subject in “Vanity and Consolation” disrupts the image’s cinematic elegance. Walters says, “The challenge . . . is to break through ancient and nearly impenetrable surfaces of vanity and to seek out the small cracks, the holes and whorled places that hold our pain, our sadness, and our beauty.”

Andrea Modica’s heavily-contrasted Treadwell photos create “open-ended narratives where fact and fiction are merged and blurred in order to show us the rough edges of experience.” Alessandra Sanguinetti’s photos of Guille and Belinda reveal their “private dreams and fears. . . that otherwise would have been kept locked to themselves [only to] fade away.”

Kanako Sasaki’s poses her subjects “uncomfortably on the cusp between girlhood and womanhood.” Her photos highlight the transience of being and growing. Maxine Walker’s work addresses ideas of identity in private moments. Other artists include Rita Hammond, Nancy Floyd, and Laurel Jessamyn Lovell. Together, the group shows that fears and anxieties, dreams and strength, do not fade with age.

The Light Work Collection consists primarily of work made by artists who have participated in the Artist-in-Residence Program and past Light Work Grant recipients. Because we encourage participation by a variety of emerging and under-represented artists, Light Work’s collection is an extensive and diverse archive for the mapping of trends and developments in contemporary photography. This noteworthy collection includes all genres of expression found in contemporary photography, including documentary, abstract, experimental, and conceptual work. Many of the images capture and document the social history of the Central and Upstate New York regions. The collection also serves as an important document of Light Work’s history of support for artists and their creative process. There are currently over 3,500 works of art in Light Work’s permanent collection. The collection contains all original work, including color and black-and-white photographic prints, alternative processes, as well as computer generated imagery, collages, artist books, and installation pieces.

This exhibition is free and open to the public. The gallery is open daily, from 10am – 9pm.

Erin Carter is a graduate student in Art and Music Histories at Syracuse University.