Estate of Laura Aguilar Donates Works to Light Work’s Permanent Collection

With enormous pleasure and gratitude, Light Work announces the acquisition of works from the estate of photographer Laura Aguilar (1959 – 2018). The self-portraits, consisting of two triptychs and four singular black-and-white images, represent Aguilar’s exploration of the lived realities of members of various marginalized groups, including women, lesbians, Latinas, the working class, obese people, and those with mental health struggles and learning disabilities. It humbles us to receive this gift of six photographic works from this extraordinary artist. We consider it an honor to join her estate and other art institutions in the stewardship of her artistic legacy through the sharing of these important works.

 In May of 1993, Laura Aguilar was an artist-in-residence at Light Work. This was a prolific period for Aguilar; she entered Light Work following the success of her iconic Three Eagles Flying and the series, Clothed/Unclothed. Aguilar applied for the month-long residency after her colleague and friend, Willie Middlebrook, completed his residency in 1992. He suggested that she create the body of work comprising 12 Lauras and Don’t Tell Her Art Can’t Hurt as a means to further influence her series of nudes in nature.  

Laura Aguilar, Center #70 (abc), 2000-2001, Gelatin silver print , 8 x 10 in.

Before Aguilar’s 2016 retrospective, Show and Tell, she wanted to create the Laura Aguilar Trust to protect her legacy. Aguilar spent time with co-trustees Christopher Velasco and Sybil Venegas to clarify her wishes for how to handle her work after her death. One primary goal was to make sure that her work found its way to institutional collections for future generations to study. Light Work is one of those institutions. Aguilar often spoke so warmly of her experience here and encouraged many aspiring photographers to apply. After her residency, Aguilar gave the Light Work Collection two of her Clothed/Unclothed prints (1993), the 12 Lauras, and three unpublished prints from her trip to Mexico. Since her death, the Laura Aguilar Trust of 2016 has placed her works in a number of collections. As a thank you, the Trust wanted to give Light Work a range of significant works that continued Aguilar’s legacy after her residency. This gift includes Windows (Nikki on my Mind) (1990), Center #70 (abc) (2000-2001), and selected images from the Stillness & Motion series (1999). 

Laura Aguilar died in 2018 at age fifty-eight, just as recognition of her work was gaining momentum. Her eponymous retrospective, Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell, at the Vincent Price Art Museum in Monterey Park, California, was the breakout exhibition of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA: Latin American and Latino Art in LA 2017-2018 and also Aguilar’s last exhibition during her lifetime. Since her death, she has joined the ranks of other iconic female photographers.

Laura Aguilar, Stillness #30, 1999, Gelatin Silver print, 11 x 14 in.

“We are honored by the donation of work by Laura Aguilar,” said Dan Boardman, Light Work’s director. “Aguilar was a visionary artist who exemplifies our mission to support emerging underrepresented artists at pivotal early points in their careers. This gift will aid students, members, and visiting artists as they use our Collection for research and inspiration.” 

Header image: Laura Aguilar, Windows (Nikki on my Mind), 1990, Three Gelatin Silver prints, 8 x 10 in each


The Light Work Collection is an extensive and diverse archive that maps the trends and developments in contemporary photography. There are currently more than 4,000 works of art in Light Work’s archive. The Collection contains all original work, including color and black-and-white photographic prints, alternative processes, collages, installation pieces, artist books, portfolios, and publications. Online visitors will find early work by many artists who have gone on to significant acclaim after their Light Work residencies, winning coveted awards, exhibiting work in prestigious museums, and securing top gallerists to represent them. This noteworthy collection includes all genres of expression found in contemporary photography, including documentary, abstract, experimental, and conceptual work. The Collection has grown over the past four decades due to the generosity of former artists-in-residence and individual donors.

Explore the Light Work Collection online at

Review: Carl Mellor on James Henkel’s Object Lessons

This review is written by Carl Mellor, a freelance writer. He covered visual arts for the Syracuse New Times from 1994 to June 2019. Mellor continues to write about exhibits and artists in the Syracuse area.

James Henkel’s solo exhibition at Light Work samples an extensive body of work, one created during a career spanning more than 30 years. Henkel photographs discarded objects of all kinds: pitchers, cups and bowls, toys, bricks and bits of concrete, and most of all, books. He gathers ordinary items of no discernible value, repairs or repositions them, and ultimately creates memorable images.

The current show, for example, includes Henkel’s photo of a comb, with both physical reality and a sense of illusion playing a role. The comb stands on one end, appearing to find its balance and perhaps even move on. Henkel’s lens and composition skills have transformed the object.

Similarly, a photo of two toothbrushes places them standing up and in close proximity to each other. The head of each toothbrush touches its counterpart, suggesting visual implications. From one perspective, this looks like two figures embracing. From another, there’s a touch of irony in this view of one toothbrush massaging another toothbrush instead of teeth.

A third photo shows an artificial arm standing on its own. The hand’s fingers are thrust into a surface, inviting viewers to ask questions. Where did the arm come from? Why was it discarded?

installation image courtesy of Julie K. Herman Photography

Elsewhere, the exhibit documents Henkel’s multiple approaches to the objects he photographs. For “Brick #2,” he stacks bricks which, in the presence of light, cast a long, jagged shadow. That piece is a companion to “Bricks #5,” a work also encompassing bricks and a shadow.

And Henkel plays with ceramic objects that are damaged and not fully restored. A pitcher’s handle is strapped to one side, but much of one side is missing. Chips from the battered object reside nearby. We view the object as it currently exists, not as it once was. A second photo, “Two-Handed Vase,” operates in the same context; an additional handle is strapped on.

“Shallow Bowl,” one of the best pieces in the exhibit, offers another example of Henkel’s creativity. We don’t see the bowl’s exterior at all. Instead, the camera’s perspective seems to come from within the bowl, extending up through a surface opening. We get a glimpse of a forest scene outside.

The exhibition also references Henkel’s intense interest in books. He’s clearly comfortable working with them, and that translates into interesting, incisive images.

In one instance, he depicts a tall, frayed book cover with a much smaller book strapped to it. A second work portrays a book cover combined with an illustration of a medieval ship. In a third piece, a book’s innards are wrapped around a largely intact volume.

“English Poet,” meanwhile, consists of pages cut up and collaged. Viewers see a partial view of a man’s face, a similar view of a second face, and a caption: “English poet, novelist and critic.”

Mentioning those works offers only preliminary discussion of Henkel’s facility for interpreting cast-off books. Among other things, these are different from other objects photographed by the artist.

Books contain text and offer narratives and ideas in formats as different as novels, biography, and poetry. That challenges viewers to compare and contrast books and objects such as bricks and ceramics.

installation image courtesy of Julie K. Herman Photography

That challenge, of course, comes by implication. At the very least, Henkel’s photos, taken as a group, reference the meaning of objects in our lives. When do they have emotional import? When do they have little or no impact?

Those questions aren’t part of a seminar. Henkel is a talented visual artist who’s able to work with varied materials and to keep improvising successfully. “James Henkel: Object Lessons” nicely communicates his skills and points to themes in his work. It offers a fine overview of a veteran photographer’s work.

Henkel, it should be noted, has taken part in many exhibitions over the years. Indeed, he’s shown his work at Cavallo Point Gallery in San Francisco, Flanders Art Gallery in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota, among other venues in the United States. In addition, his images have appeared in galleries in Iran, Russia and China.

His solo exhibit is on display in Light Work’s Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery. A second show, devoted to work created by winners of the 2021 Light Work grants, is on view in the Hallway Gallery. It features artworks by Carla Liesching, Paul Pearce and Jessica Magallanes Martinez.

The Light Work exhibit closes December 9, 2021


All programs are free and open to the public. For parking information, visit

Thursday, November 4, 5-7 p.m. — Gallery Reception

Thursday, November 4, 6 p.m. — Gallery talk with exhibiting artist James Henkel

Light Work Launches 2022 Subscription Program

Great Cause. Great Art. Light Work’s mission is to provide direct support to artists working in photography and related media through residencies, publications, exhibitions, and a community-access lab facility. Our Fine Print Program, which features striking limited-edition, signed prints, is an accessible way to expand your art collection while championing our mission of offering opportunities to emerging, under-recognized, and historically excluded artists.

2022 Benefactors Offer

Abelardo Morell
Atong Atem
Sharon Harper
Meryl Meisler
Odette England, Dairy Character
Contact Sheet (5 editions annually)

Benefactors Offer: Contributors of $1,500 will receive Abelardo Morell’s image from the Master Print Edition, all three prints in our Fine Print Program Atong AtemSharon Harper, and Meryl Meisler, and a signed copy of Dairy Character by Odette England. In total, a $2,005 value! By participating you will save on the cost of the prints and book, and receive a one-year subscription to Contact Sheet.

Individual prints may also be purchased in the Light Work Shop

2022 Master Print Edition
Abelardo Morell

Camera Obscura – Late Afternoon View of the East Side of Midtown Manhattan, 2014
Archival inkjet print, 11 x 14.125″ on 13 x 17″ paper
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Purchase in the Light Work shop

Abelardo Morell’s images reveal the extraordinary in the familiar. Morell writes, “The pictures I made around the house when I first became a father have influenced much of the work that I do today―from looking at a book with the curiosity of a child to turning ordinary rooms into giant cameras. ”The image Camera Obscura – Late Afternoon View of the East Side of Midtown Manhattan, 2014 is one example of his prolific series, Camera Obscura. “Over time, this project has taken me from my living room to all sorts of interiors around the world. One of the satisfactions I get from making this imagery comes from my seeing the weird and yet natural marriage of the inside and outside.”

2022 Fine Print Program
Atong Atem

Fruit of the Earth, 2016
Archival inkjet print, 15 x 10” on 17 x 13” paper
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Purchase in the Light Work shop

Atong Atem is a South Sudanese artist and writer from Bor now living in Narrm (unceded Aboriginal land outside Melbourne, Australia). Atem’s photos explore the experiences of young immigrants, and how they knit together the different cultures that surround them. She focuses on migrant narratives, postcolonial practices in the diaspora, the relationship between public and private spaces, and identity through portraiture. Her distinctive artistic practice combines both photography and hand painting, incorporating bold color and pattern inspired by her South Sudanese background. Atem recently exhibited at Brisbane Powerhouse Museum, where she won the inaugural MELT Portrait Prize. Atem participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in June 2018.

Sharon Harper

One Month, Weather Permitting, 2009 Night Sky Over Banff, Alberta, September 12 – October 10, 2017
12 September 13 September
Archival inkjet print, 11 x 14″
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Purchase in the Light Work shop

Sharon Harper’s work explores technology and perception. She uses photography and video experimentally to create poetic connections between ourselves and the environment. Permanent collections that hold Harper’s work include the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, Denver Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art/New York City, Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, The New York Public Library, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, the Meredith S. Moody Residency Fellowship and the Elizabeth Ames Residency Fellowship at Yaddo, and the Sam and Dusty Boynton Residency Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center. 

Meryl Meisler

Reclining in tree by Goddard Riverside Community Center NY, NY, June 1978
Archival inkjet print, 8 x 8″ on 11 x 14″ paper
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Purchase in the Light Work shop

Meryl Meisler was born 1951 in the Bronx and grew up on Long Island, NY. Meisler frequented and photographed the legendary New York City discos. A 1978 CETA Artist Grant supported her portfolio on Jewish identity. Upon retiring from 31 years as a New York City public school art teacher, she began releasing previously unseen work, including her books, A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick (Bizarre, 2014), Purgatory & Paradise: SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City (Bizarre, 2015) and New York PARADISE LOST: Bushwick Era Disco (forthcoming 2021). Meisler has received support from Artists Space, CETA, China Institute, Japan Society, LMCC, Leonian Foundation, Light Work, NYFA, Puffin Foundation, VCCA, and Yaddo. She has exhibited at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Museum, Dia Art Foundation, MASS MoCA, New Museum, New York Historical Society, and Whitney Museum. Collections that hold her work include AT&T, American Jewish Congress, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Brooklyn Historical Society, Columbia University, Emory University, Islip Art Museum, Library of Congress, Pfizer, and Reuters. Meisler lives in New York City and Woodstock, NY. ClampArt represents her work.

2021 Book Collectors Offer
Dairy Character (SIGNED)
Odette England

Odette England, Dairy Character
Saint Lucy 2021
188 Pages 
First Edition | Signed by the artist

Purchase Book in the Light Work shop

Dairy Character is a loose chronicle of England’s experience growing up on a rural dairy farm in southern Australia. Combining recent photographs, family snapshots, archival images, and autobiographical short stories, England examines the male-dominated farming community where she was raised and the gender-based repression that rural women and girls experience. Her images and texts evoke a girl introduced to reproductive labor at an early age. A girl who wanted a pink room. A girl fenced in by interconnecting forms of vulnerability. A girl who had a cow named after her. Odette England is the recipient of the 2021 Light Work Photobook Award.

Contact Sheet Subscription
5 Printed Issues Per Year

2022 Subscriptions include issues 210-214. Product image for illustration purposes only

Contact Sheet is where lovers of photography, from museum professionals to avid amateurs to collectors, turn to see the latest work by important emerging and mid-career artists from around the world. Contact Sheet is designed and printed in the tradition of fine art photography monographs and is completely commercial free. Many important photographers have been included in the early stages of their careers, including Cindy Sherman, Andres Serrano, Carrie Mae Weems, Suzanne Opton, Hank Willis Thomas, Lisa M. Robinson, and more.

A one-year subscription to Contact Sheet includes five issues. Four of the issues are single-artist catalogues featuring work that is exhibited in our main gallery. The fifth issue is The Light Work Annual, which features imagery by artists invited to participate in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program. The Light Work Annual is our biggest issue of the year, both in number of pages and the exposure it gives to our emerging artists.

Jeffrey Hoone retires after leading Light Work for 41 years

Over the past year there had been several significant leadership changes at Light Work. In January 2021 director Shane Lavalette left to start Assembly, a commercial venture, that supports artists through exhibitions, commissions, and publications. At that time, lab manager Dan Boardman was promoted to acting director, and after a national search, he was hired as Director in July 2021. When that transition was complete, executive director Jeffrey Hoone retired after 41 years in a leadership position at Light Work.

Boardman brings a wealth of experience and expertise to Light Work. An accomplished working artist, he was a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow in 2013, and has exhibited his work widely, including at The Bakalar & Paine Galleries (Boston), Harvard University, and The Mills Gallery at The Boston Center for the Arts. Boardman was a Light Work artist-in-residence and also Light Work’s lab manager for several years. He and his wife, Coco, also a photographer, live outside Syracuse with their young son, Henry.

“Dan is the perfect pick to lead Light Work into the future,” says Jeff Hoone. “He understands the organization from an artists’ perspective and how to run a hands-on operation. His entrepreneurial instincts are excellent. He grasps the big picture goals of supporting emerging and underrecognized artists. I had the pleasure to mentor Dan as he stepped into this job―Light Work is fortunate to have such a competent, committed, and compassionate leader. I look forward to seeing how he builds on Light Work’s strong foundation.”

“Jeff Hoone’s impact on the field of photography is significant and far-reaching,” says Boardman. “His accomplishments measure beyond the scope of this statement, and will endure for decades to come.”

Jeffrey Hoone became assistant director of Light Work in 1980 and over the next two years worked with both founding co-directors, Phil Block and Tom Bryan, during a period of reorganization. Bryan left to become a full-time sheep farmer and Block moved to the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City. In 1982, Hoone became director and Light Work’s only full-time employee.

Jeffrey Hoone pictured with a photograph of Light Work co-founders Phil Block and Tom Bryan

Over the next four years, Hoone and his work-study students expanded the artist-in-residence program to nearly 12 artists a year, making it Light Work’s signature program and defining the core mission to support artists in making new work. Emerging artists such as Dawoud Bey, Bill Burke, James Casebere, Barbara Ess, Melissa Shook, and Joel Sternfeld participated in these early years.

“My Light Work residency was the first I had ever done,” says Dawoud Bey. “The impact of that one month was considerable, leading to my inclusion in a major museum exhibition through the publication of my work in Contact Sheet. Light Work has provided immeasurable and constant support to those of us working in photography for decades now and Jeff Hoone has achieved a singular thing in building that organization.”

There are pivotal events for many organizations that help propel them forward. For Light Work it was being introduced to Robert B. Menschel. In the mid-80s, Hoone invited Mr. Menschel to meet in person and learn more about Light Work. Menschel was an alumnus and trustee of Syracuse University, a successful financier, and a photography collector. From that pivotal meeting came Menschel’s promise of a grant from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation so that Light Work could hire an assistant director. Menschel’s continued annual support has anchored Light Work’s financial success and stability.

There would never have been a Light Work without Jeff’s commitment and dedication,” says Menschel now. “His leadership created and sustained the longest-running photography publication. He will be sorely missed.

Under Hoone’s leadership Light Work completed a major $3.5 million renovation if its facility in 2001 and renamed the complex the Robert B. Menschel Media Center in gratitude for his generosity. Menschel also convinced noted architect Richard Meier to contribute design elements to the Center and was instrumental in artist and SU alum Sol LeWitt’s donation of a wall drawing for the building’s entrance. Hoone worked closely with Syracuse architect and SU alum Mike Wolniak to create an award-winning and highly functional creative space for artists.

In 2012, several years after completing the renovation of the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, Hoone personally established an endowment for the new main Gallery in the facility and named it after his mother Kathleen O. Ellis. The Ellis Gallery remains Light Work’s premiere Gallery and every exhibition is accompanied by an issue of Contact Sheet.

Kathleen O. Ellis seated front row at Light Work during reception and artist talk with 2018 exhibiting artist Keisha Scarville.

During his time in a leadership position at Light Work Hoone has kept the needs of artists front and center in Light Work’s priorities. Like many alternative arts organizations, Light Work began from an activist position to address inequities in how established institutions served artists as well as other larger social concerns of equity and inclusion. A priority during Hoone’s tenure has been Light Work’s commitment to diverse approaches to the medium and to welcome artists from all backgrounds, beliefs, and sexual orientations.

Hoone also expanded Light Work’s Contact Sheet from a small broadsheet to the full-color publication that today goes to more than 2,000 subscribers, institutions, artists, and art professionals in every state and 41 other countries. Contact Sheet receives support from Light Work’s subscription and fine print program and an enviable roster of support from national foundations, government agencies, and Syracuse University.

Since the 1970s, Light Work has asked visiting artists to contribute work made during their residency. . After many years these contributions had grown into an impressive collection and Hoone directed a decades-long process of cataloguing and storing the collection in order to meet industry standards. Over these decades, Light Work pioneered the creation of a searchable public image database that now holds more than 4,000 photographs and objects in the collection on the Light Work website. Light Work supported many artists early in their careers who have gone on to become important contributors to contemporary art. These include Andres Serrano, Fazal Sheikh, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and James Welling, among many others.

Under Hoone’s leadership Light Work has been honored for its excellence and received top grants for many years from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and several national foundations. He also helped to establish four endowment funds at Light Work totaling close to three-million dollars. These funds will provide stability for the organization as it moves into the future, and is a luxury that few small artist-run organizations can claim.

Hoone always had an eye on the big picture and when Nancy Cantor became chancellor of Syracuse University in 2004 Hoone worked with her to form the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC) and became its first executive director. CMAC brought together the art centers and museums on campus and in the local community in collaboration to expand public awareness, understanding, appreciation, and involvement in the visual and electronic arts. At that time, Hoone became executive director of Light Work and Hannah Frieser joined the staff as director to handle day-to-day operations.

As CMAC’s executive director, Hoone created the University’s first official art museum by combining the University Art Collection with the Lowe Art Gallery to form the SUArt Galleries. Last year the trustees approved renaming SUArt as the Syracuse University Art Museum and museum accreditation is underway. Hoone led the search committee that hired Vanja Malloy as the new director and chief curator of the Museum.

Jeffrey Hoone on his 65th birthday in 2020. Photo by Carrie Mae Weems

Hoone had a great vision for the potential of the arts and turned a fledgling video program at the Connective Corridor into the Urban Video Project (UVP), an internationally acclaimed electronic public art project. Anneka Herre directs the UVP, which projects videos on the Everson Museum’s north façade. He also helped create a permanent home at the Cantor Warehouse for the Photography and Literacy (PAL) project started by the late Stephen Mahan, which teaches literacy skills to school children through photography. Located downtown, the Cantor Warehouse also currently houses CMAC’s Point of Contact Gallery along with other community art spaces.

Light Work is now preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023 and Hoone anticipates spending time working with the Light Work staff on developing programs, events, and publications to celebrate that occasion. After 20 years on the board, Hoone also now serves as president of the foundation, Joy of Giving Something (JGS), which provides support to Light Work, UVP, the PAL project, and other photography organizations across the country to support emerging and under-recognized artists.

A working artist for much of his life, Hoone has exhibited his work extensively, served on peer review panels for the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and received a photography fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Hoone lives in Syracuse with his wife of 26 years, Carrie Mae Weems, who came to Light Work as a visiting artist in 1988. He will continue to work with her on the organization of her studio and as a board member of her non-profit organization, Social Studies 101.

In the end, Light Work’s most tremendous impact is on the artists,” says associate director Mary Lee Hodgens. “They always tell us what a pivotal time this was. We were just at the Armory show in New York City and several former AIRs came up to us. One had tears in their eyes and said, ’I was ready to give up when my residency came through.’

Header image credit: Colin Davy, courtesy of The Daily Orange

Announcing 2022 Light Work Artists-in-Residence

With great excitement, Light Work announces the following 2022 Artists-in-Residence: Mónica Alcázar-Duarte (United Kingdom), Nando Alvarez-Perez (Buffalo, New York), Simon Benjamin (Brooklyn, New York), Gary Burnley (Ridgefield, Connecticut), William Camargo (Chicago, Illinois), Jasmine Clarke (Brooklyn, New York), Paula Damasceno (Greensboro, North Carolina), Mercedes Dorame (Burbank, California), Dylan Hausthor (Peaks Island, Maine), Musuk Nolte (Lima, Peru), Elle Perez (Brooklyn, New York), Nona Faustine Simmons (Brooklyn, New York), and Claire A. Warden (Phoenix, Arizona). 

Each year, Light Work supports emerging, under-represented, and previously excluded artists working in photography and related media with support totaling more than $60,000. In addition to receiving an unrestricted stipend of $5,000, each artist has access to our technical and professional resources and facilities.

“It’s my great pleasure to congratulate the 2022 Light Work Artist-in-Residence recipients,” said Light Work director Dan Boardman. “I know I speak for the entire staff when I say we are thrilled to have artists working in our space throughout 2022. This year’s cohort exemplifies the wide range of approaches making up contemporary photographic practice, and we are looking forward to providing space and time to each of these practitioners.”

This year, Light Work has two exciting collaborations with distinguished organizations in support of three of our artists. Autograph in London, UK, has sponsored the residency of Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, the latest in a partnership that dates from 1996. Additionally, the Darryl Chappell Foundation has sponsored the residencies of Jasmine Clarke and Gary Burnley. The first year of Light Work’s partnership with the Darryl Chappell Foundation advances our shared mission to foster an appreciation of the fine arts among members of the African Diaspora through grants and to deepen an appreciation of the fine arts in the larger community. 

Light Work’s highly competitive residency program dates from 1976 and now receives nearly 1,000 submissions annually. Following an international call for submissions, we select twelve to fifteen artists and invite them to come to Syracuse for one month to pursue creative projects. To date, more than 500 artists have participated in the Light Work Artist-in-Residence Program and many have gone on to achieve international acclaim. The artists who receive this distinction embody Light Work’s mission of providing direct artist support to emerging, under-represented, and previously excluded artists working in photography and digital imaging.

We are pleased to announce the 2022 Light Work Artists-in-Residence!

Mónica Alcázar-Duarte (United Kingdom)

Nando Alvarez-Perez (Buffalo, New York)

Simon Benjamin (Brooklyn, New York)

Gary Burnely (Ridgefield, Connecticut)

William Camargo (Chicago, Illinois)

Jasmine Clarke (Brooklyn, New York)

Paula Damasceno (Greensboro, North Carolina)

Mercedes Dorame (Burbank, California)

Dylan Hausthor (Peaks Island, Maine)

Musuk Nolte (Lima, Peru)

Elle Perez (Brooklyn, New York)

Nona Faustine Simmons (Brooklyn, New York)

Claire A. Warden (Phoenix, Arizona)

See past Artists-in-Residence at
Applications are now open for 2023. Apply at

Odette England Receives 2021 Light Work Photobook Award

With enormous pleasure and in partnership with Saint Lucy Books,  Light Work announces Rhode Island-based artist Odette England as the recipient of the 2021 Light Work Photobook Award for her monograph, Dairy Character.  Light Work gives the Photobook Award annually to an artistic project that deserves international attention. “Odette England’s Dairy Character is an insightful and distinct book that looks at rural life, parenthood, and femininity,” said Light Work director Dan Boardman. “Odette’s work exemplifies our mission to support emerging and under-represented artists. Her approach to the artist book is wholly her own and blurs the boundaries between archive, narrative, and memoir. We’re excited to collaborate with Saint Lucy’s on publication. “

The monograph is available for pre-order in Light Work’s shop with anticipated delivery in September 2021. As the winner of the 2021 Photobook Award, England’s book will appear as the Book Collectors’ selection in Light Work’s exclusive 2022 Annual Subscription program. 

It’s a wonderful, unexpected honor, to have this work recognized by Light Work and to be in the company of previous winners, including Mark McKnight, Andres Gonzalez, and Rose Marie Cromwell,” said Odette England. “I’m grateful for a light to be shone on rural girls and women, on how they’re frequently excluded or marginalized from important resources, and on the division of gender and labor that prevails. To make a photobook that makes palpable the emotional quotient of growing up girl when the loudest, strongest voices didn’t sound like my own, and to illustrate and contextualize a kind of wrestling with how things are placed onto our bodies by others as well as by history and ancestry, has been challenging but also revealing. It’s as much a photographic autopsy and critique of my relationship to a place I still call home but live no longer, as it is a focus on the inner lives and expectations of rural girls and women.

Dairy Character is a loose chronicle of England’s experience growing up on a rural dairy farm in southern Australia. Combining recent photographs, family snapshots, archival images, and autobiographical short stories, England examines the male-dominated farming community where she was raised and the gender-based repression that rural women and girls experience. Her images and texts evoke a girl introduced to reproductive labor at an early age. A girl who wanted a pink room. A girl fenced in by interconnecting forms of vulnerability. A girl who had a cow named after her.

Odette England
Dairy Character
Saint Lucy Books / Light Work
188 pages
First Editon
Signed by the artist

Odette England is an artist and writer who uses photography, performance, writing, and the archive to explore themes of autobiography, land, gender, and ritual. She edited the critically acclaimed book, Keeper of the Hearth: Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph (Schilt, 2020). Public collections holding England’s work include the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, George Eastman Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography, New Mexico Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, and Texas A&M University. In 2021, Radius Books published her collaboration with Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Past Paper // Present Marks: Responding to Rauschenberg.

About Saint Lucy Books

Mark Alice Durant launched Saint Lucy Books in 2011. Saint Lucy is devoted to writing about photography and contemporary art. Saint Lucy features essays, portfolios, and wide-ranging conversations with artists, writers, and curators. Saint Lucy Books publishes idiosyncratic books that combine words and images to investigate the marginal, hidden, and parallel histories of photography. Both Aperture and Paris Photo shortlisted Hidden Mother for Best Photobook of the Year, among its many accolades and enthusiastic reviews. Reviewing 27 Contexts in 4 Columns, UCLA art historian George Baker writes, “Durant’s writing—his storytelling—is often thrilling, wrenching, beautiful.” Of Friends, Enemies, and Strangers, Marvin Heiferman writes, “One of our shrewdest image-makers and takers, Oliver Wasow pits the sentimental against the sinister, nature against human nature, and private lives against public ones.”

Pre-order a first edition SIGNED copy of Dairy Character by Odette England and you will also receive a 2022 subscription to Contact Sheet (a $105 value) for only $65!

Light Work and Urban Video Project Announce 2021 Fall Exhibitions

Light Work announces its 2021 Fall exhibitions, which will occupy its two galleries and outdoor architectural projection site, Urban Video Project. Light Work annually presents a rotating schedule of exhibitions by emerging and previously excluded artists working in photography and digital imaging. Works appearing in our Kathleen O. Ellis and Hallway Galleries, and at UVP’s site on the Everson Museum of Art’s north facade, represent artists working at the forefront of lens-based practices in a wide variety of subjects. After closing our gallery doors to the public on March 13, 2020, and shifting programming to virtual platforms, we’re thrilled to reopen and welcome patrons back in person into our exhibition spaces for gallery openings, artist talks, and curator conversations. As Light Work approaches our fiftieth anniversary, we will continue our core mission of support to artists through exhibitions, residencies, and the production of the award-winning Contact Sheet publication.

Current hours are Monday thru Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Light Work closes on all Syracuse University and federal holidays. Find Light Work in the Robert B. Menschel Media Center at 316 Waverly Avenue, Syracuse, New York, 13224.

Kathleen O. Ellis and Hallway Galleries

Clifford Prince King We Used to Lay Together

In Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery, the fall season begins with We Used to Lay Together, an exhibition from Los Angeles-based photographer Clifford Prince King. A self-taught queer Black artist, King uses his life and experiences as starting points to explore desire, intimacy, and daily life. He often depicts himself and others within the beige domestic spaces common to LA. We see a brotherhood of men enacting moments of domestic bliss, nude bodies in the moments before or after a sexual encounter, and the daily routine and side effects of living with HIV. King’s colorful images show us the casual intimacy of his life in Los Angeles. It has been a joy for us at Light Work to learn about his approach, influences, and experience as we have collaborated on curating this exhibition. As his community confronts erasure and heteronormative flattening of their identity, we’re excited to share this insider’s intentional gaze.

The King exhibition runs from Monday, August 23 through Thursday, October 14, 2021. Reception for King and his artist’s gallery talk on Thursday, September 16, at 6 p.m. in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery.

image: Clifford Prince King, Sonny and David, 2019 

Queer Moments: Selections from the Light Work Collection

In the Hallway Gallery, Queer Moments: Selections from the Light Work Collection highlights the historical contributions of LGBTQ+ artists to the Light Work Collection with work from artists who have participated in Light Work programs: Laura Aguilar, Samantha Box, Jess T. Dugan, John Edmonds, Ajamu (Ikwe-Tyehimba), Mark McKnight, Rory Mulligan, Billy Quinn, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Pacifico Silano, Clarissa Sligh, Linn Underhill, and Albert Winn. This exhibition highlights image-making practices and themes that document and comment upon LGBTQ+ history through photography. The images reflect narratives in particular historical moments, for example, in the AIDS crisis, from Albert Winn’s Band-Aid Series (1999) to Pacifico Silano’s Untitled (2016). These artists used their cameras to boldly confront inequities in our society and also give visual expression to the varied experiences of marginalized communities.

Queer Moments remains on view in the Hallway Gallery from August 23 through October 2021.

image: Samantha Box, Bama, Omar and Devin, 2008

Urban Video Project Exhibitions and Collaborations

2021 Horizons: New Film Out of Central New York

Light Work’s Urban Video Project will screen film shorts from 2021 Horizons: New Film Out of Central New York award recipients as part of a continued commitment to collaboration with regional partners. The CNY Short Film Competition is a juried program administered by the Innovation Group of CNY Arts, which supports promising young filmmakers who have recently graduated from an accredited film or media program in the Central New York region. By drawing upon the region’s unique cultural and geographic characteristics, winning filmmakers explore a wide variety of storytelling perspectives.

The one-night screening will be on the run Friday, October 1, at UVP’s outdoor projection site on the north facade of the Everson Museum of Art at 401 Harrison Street, Thursday through Saturday, from dusk until 9 p.m.

image: Carlton Daniel Jr.’s Homegoing installation view

Hito Stereyl: Strike

Urban Video Project’s program year continues with world-renowned artist Hito Steyerl’s Strike (2010). Steyerl’s work explores late capitalism’s social, cultural, and financial imaginaries. Strike is a short, humorous film squarely in the tradition of Fluxus performance and wordplay. The title of the work plays on the double meaning of the word “strike.” Most obviously, a strike is a physically violent gesture, in this case against a flatscreen monitor, both a commodity and an object that, when working, “disappears” behind the spectacle it presents. On the other hand, a strike is a strategic refusal to work. The double meaning here short circuits our contemporary split identity as consumer-workers.

Strike will be on view September 16 thru December 11, 2021, at UVP’s outdoor projection site on the north facade of the Everson Museum of Art at 401 Harrison Street, Thursday through Saturday, from dusk until 11 p.m.

image: Installation view of Strike projected on the facade of the Everson Museum

Re:Collection John Banasiak on Phil Block

Visitors to Light Work’s website are invited to explore thousands of photographic works and objects from the Light Work Collection in our online database that expands access of work by former Light Work artists to students, researchers, and online visitors. Our Re:Collection blog series invites artists and respected thinkers in the field to select a single image or object from the archive and offer a reflection as to its historical, technical, or personal significance.

Today we’re sharing a reflection on John Banasiak’s image of Light Work co-founder Phil Block. In unique Re:Collection twist, Banasiak, the portrait image-maker, is also the author, offering contemplative insights on this early organization champion and the impact of artist residency on his photography practice.

In 1977, I had the good fortune of being one of Light Work’s first artists-in-residence. Invited by Phil Block and Tom Bryan, I spent the month of October printing some of the negatives from my ongoing series of nightwork and interacting with a community of people who appreciated the beauty and poetic language of photography. I also had the honor of having my work appear in the first issue of Contact Sheet. 

I came from Chicago in an Oldsmobile Delta ‘88, a “Drive Away Car” I was hired to drive and drop off at a car dealership somewhere in Syracuse. I parked in front of Light Work on Waverly, put out my cigar, walked up the front steps, and into Phil Block’s office. It was like I was reuniting with a brother or cousin I hadn’t seen in a long while. His friendly, laid-back, good-humored nature made me feel as if I had known him all my life. He happened to know the car dealership that I needed to get to, so we drove out and back and had some great talks and told each other a bunch of good stories. Soon they showed me around the facility and introduced me to a few of the people who were there—Karl Baden, Dave Broda, Marion Faller, Bill Gandino, Peter Glendinning, Judith Ivry, and others. Tom Bryant would show up occasionally and drive me around to some of the interesting sites of the surrounding countryside. 

Within a day or two, I was mixing up some Selectol in the back darkroom and printing from my stack of 4×5 negatives, occasionally stepping out in the hall to dry my test strips, sipping Pelican Punch tea from the food co-op just down the hall from the darkroom, and talking with some of the students and photo addicts who hung out in the studio.   

Along with having the opportunity to print, I also explored the area and gathered some new work as I wandered through the neighborhoods, strolled the boulevards (Genesee), and parks (Thornden) of the area. I had falafels at King David’s, cheesecake from the Snow Flake Bakery, shots and beer with the locals at the Orange. I danced to the tropical country music of Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks at the Jabberwocky across the street from Light Work. I ate dinners of crustless quiche with Susan Narucki, a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice who, as a work/study, took care of the Light Work darkroom and went on to international acclaim as a Grammy-winning soprano for her recording of George Crumb’s “Star Child” in 2000. I took evening swims in the University pool. Phil and I occasionally went out at night and listened to the local music. There was a great diversity in music available on campus, but Phil and I both liked jazz and blues so we hit some of those places. Phil had a stand-up bass that he sometimes played at home while listening to Thelonious Monk, or Coltrane, and I thought he was pretty good.

The mix and steady flow of photographers and visiting artists though those days at Light Work always provided an infusion of good creative thought and energy. Light Work was very connected with what was going on at the Everson Museum, as well as what was happening at Syracuse University’s art school and galleries. Clement Greenberg lectured one evening, Bill Owens talked about his book Suburbia, Marion Post Wolcott reflected on her time with the WPA, and one afternoon Michael Jennings read some of his poetry at the Dorothea Lange exhibition at the Everson. It was a stimulating time and I knew I would have a difficult time leaving. Former teachers of mine, Charles Harbutt and Joe Jachna, were there a few months before me. Cal Kowal was coming as an artist-in-residence just after me—I had worked with him at Ox-Bow Summer School of Art the year before and was going to miss him by just a couple of months.  

My time at Light Work solidified my enjoyment and affection for the college environment and the creative energy that can emerge and grow there. After I left at the beginning of November, I decided to think more about teaching and being a part of a creative community in a college environment. Soon after leaving Syracuse and Light Work, Phil called me and asked me if I might be able to get away from Chicago to take over a one-year position teaching photography up at SUNY Oswego. Returning to upstate New York sounded great. I called Tom Eckersley, the chair in Oswego’s College of Art, and the next thing I knew, I was loading up a U-Haul and heading to Oswego.

My year in Oswego was inspirational. Occasionally it included trips down to Syracuse (via Heid’s hot dog stand in Liverpool) to visit Phil and Light Work. It also began a chain of events that led to alternative process workshops at Auckland University and Christchurch University in New Zealand and eventually to a position in the College of Fine Art at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion where, this August, I am heading into my 42nd year of teaching an ever-changing mix of the old and new processes and visual dialects of photography.   

Phil Block and Light Work have played a significant part in my growth and development as an artist and as an educator, and I will always feel affection and gratitude for all that they have generously given me. One final thing that I’d like to mention. When I did drive out to Oswego to teach for that year back in 1978, one of the first photography students I met when I was putting together my classes was a talented young artist by the name of Paul Pearce. I see now that he will be a Light Work Grants recipient for this coming year. His work continues to be personal, revealing, and meaningful. I look forward to seeing some of his new work, and I wish him the best, and I hope that he has a creative, productive, and inspirational time at Light Work.   

Find more of John Banasiak’s work online here.

Explore the Light Work Collection online at

Light Work Galleries and Photography Lab Reopens to the Public

With enormous pleasure, Light Work announces the reopening of our state-of-the-art photography Lab and exhibition spaces to the public! Over the last three months, we have taken incremental steps toward pre-pandemic “normal.” At Light Work, we have seen a progression from essential staff only to a green light on welcoming Light Work’s community of photographers and photo enthusiasts into the Kathleen O. Ellis, Hallway Galleries, and Lab. For Light Work and arts institutions across the nation, the last year brought unprecedented trials that we at Light Work have tried to meet with a determined and creative dexterity and an unwavering commitment to support, amplify, and #keepartgoing. It’s so exciting for us to welcome patrons back into our exhibition spaces for in-person gallery openings, artist talks, and curator conversations. 

Recently appointed Light Work director Dan Boardman says, “It is nothing less than thrilling for us to open our doors after more than a year of closure. I’m looking forward to the creative energy our patrons and members bring to this space. I’m pleased to share our calendar of exhibitions going into 2022. We are going to bring exciting and exceptional work to our community here in Syracuse, and we hope you will join us in celebrating with the artists at Light Work in person.”

Wendy Red Star: Baaeétitchish (One Who Is Talented), Gallery Opening, 2019 Courtesy of the Julie K. Herman

Light Work’s reopening includes a community-wide invitation to students, educators, local organizations, and university partners to schedule use of the main gallery, library, and lab studio for exhibition-related art-making, workshops, class discussions, or staff-guided tours. Light Work’s community partnerships comprise organizations that cultivate safe spaces for inquiry and critical dialogue and their approaches to both exhibitions and the ideas presented in the works are creative and interdisciplinary.  

2021 Fall Exhibitions

The Fall 2021 exhibition schedule offers a diverse intersection of thematic insights and photographic methods. Please join us for Clifford Prince King: We Used to Lay Together (Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery – Aug. 23-Oct. 14, 2021), Queer Moments: Selections from the Light Work Collection (Hallway Gallery – Aug. 23-Oct. 14, 2021), 2021 Horizons: New Film Out of Central New York (UVP | Everson Plaza – September 30, 2021), and Hito Steyerl: Strike (UVP | Everson Plaza – September 16-December 11, 2021) 

Community Access Photography Lab

Light Work Lab members also have cause for celebration.  In preparation for welcoming the community back into the photography lab, the staff reconfigured the space. We have established new best practices for using state-of-the-art workspaces, darkroom, lighting studio, and printers. The new guidelines ensure a safe,  productive workflow that will support the needs of its members, workshop participants, and artists-in-residence.

Light Work Photography Lab Courtesy of the Julie K. Herman

Gallery and Lab hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Light Work closes on all Syracuse University and federal holidays. Find Light Work in the Robert B. Menschel Media Center at 316 Waverly Avenue, Syracuse, New York, 13224. Limited metered parking is available on Waverly Avenue and paid parking is available in Booth Parking Garage. Visit for information on parking and directions to the galleries. We pledge strict adherence to the most up-to-date COVID-19 safety protocols to protect patrons, artists, students, and staff.  


Light Work thanks Syracuse University and Robert B. Menschel and Vital Projects, as well as the Andy Warhol Foundation, CNY Arts, the Central New York Community Foundation, JGS (Joy of Giving Something Inc.), the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the subscribers to Contact Sheet for their dedicated and ongoing support of our programs. Light Work is a member of CMAC, the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers at Syracuse University.

Re:Collection: Sydney Ellison on Pedro Isztin

Visitors to Light Work’s website are invited to explore thousands of photographic works and objects from the Light Work Collection in our online database that expands access of work by former Light Work artists to students, researchers, and online visitors. Our Re:Collection blog series invites artists and respected thinkers in the field to select a single image or object from the archive and offer a reflection as to its historical, technical, or personal significance.

Today we’re sharing a reflection on Pedro Isztin’s image Stan, 2009 from Sydney Ellison. Ellison is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work addresses themes of gaze and intersectionality primarily through collage and self-portraiture. Ellison is an art photography student at Pratt Institute and an editor of The Photographer’s Greenbook, a resource hub for inclusion, diversity, equity, and advocacy in the lens-based art community.

When searching through Light Work’s collection, I was immediately taken aback upon finding Pedro Isztin’s Stan (2004). In this image, almost all the space inside the frame is taken up by the face of an elderly man with bloodshot, blue eyes, a stern gaze, and a small black and white photograph secured on his forehead with red tape. I was taken aback by how confrontational this image is when I first saw it, but the more time I spent with it the more complicated it became. I am not aware of the original context of this photograph, but something about the tension between the deep blues and bright red and the presence of another photograph within the photographic frame feels like a piecing together of contexts. While the tightness of the frame and the direct gaze of the subject are obviously confrontational, his expression seems to be more one of pleading than of aggression. It is this pleading expression and the photograph taped on his forehead that made me think that the nature of photography itself is the subject of this photograph. It is nostalgic, it fixes a moment in time, and it fails to live up to reality.

Pedro Isztin, Stan, 2009 Courtesy of the Artist

The positioning on the man’s head of the photo of a baby, whose gaze is similar indirectness to the subject’s, seems to illustrate memory and the idea of a photograph as an object that houses a memory. The man’s age seems to reference loss. While this could be memory loss it could also simply be the loss of who one used to be and what they once had. This caused me to wonder, are photographs where we store past versions of ourselves? I think that often they are. Because of this, the reckoning with a photograph, presumably from another time, within this image is largely what makes it so enchanting and unnerving.

Internships at Light Work

Offered year-round, Light Work internships provide a platform for undergraduate and graduate students to gain practical, hands-on experience in our exhibitions, education, and collections departments. Light Work’s programming includes exhibitions, educational classes, workshops, community education programs and initiatives, residencies, publications, a digital darkroom, and a library. We endeavor to match each intern with duties that match their interests and learning goals. To apply for internships fill out our Internship Application PDF and send it and all requested documents to