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 parking.syr.edu 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.  


Sponsors


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.

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
ISBN:978-0-578-87587-3
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 http://collection.lightwork.org

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 lab@lightwork.org

Light Work Welcomes Summer Intern: Sydney Ellison

Addressing issues of equity and inclusion has been important to me since I began my formal education in photography. I have not always had the vocabulary to describe my concerns. I was a first-generation college student whose understanding of photography was primarily technical and I had yet to visit an art museum. Yet, I intrinsically knew there were discrepancies between the types of work that different individuals could make safely, how others received that work, and how the curriculum addressed particular histories and legacies. 

Centering equity and inclusion in photography requires moving beyond acknowledging past faults and injustices. It requires attempting to address the past by creating a future in which we are all more responsible makers and consumers of images. While critical discussions around photography and its ethics often occur within the relatively inaccessible spaces of academia and fine art, images affect how all people relate to themselves, history, and others. This is why it is essential to encourage equity and understand how we all come to images with our own context(s) within the medium. For similar reasons, it is also essential to make sure there are inclusive spaces to share and discuss photography, which I spend a lot of time trying to cultivate and support. If we let it, photography can be a democratic tool for self-expression, starting conversations, and building empathy. While images can cause harm, they can also refute harm and create an opportunity for care and affirmation with responsible handling. Image makers and curators have both an opportunity and a responsibility to employ the best qualities of the medium. 

From “Her, again” series. Courtesy of Sydney Ellison

Sydney 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 within the lens-based art community.
— 
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 lab@lightwork.org

Light Work Receives Darryl Chappell Foundation Grant of $10,000

The Darryl Chappell Foundation has honored Light Work with a $10,000 grant. The award will support the residency of two lens-based artists from the African Diaspora. Artists-in-residence is selected through Light Work’s annual residency juror review process, with an anticipated announcement of all residents, including Darryl Chappell Foundation recipients, in late summer 2021.

The Darryl Chappell Foundation seeks to enable emerging and established artists to achieve their highest potential,” said Foundation Chair and CEO Darryl Chappell. “We accomplish this by providing grants as well as by sponsoring artist-in-residence programs designed with the needs of artists, art patrons, mentors, and key partners in mind. Through this work, we believe a more authentic artist voice can be made visible, and heard, on a global scale.

Every year Light Work invites between 12 and 15 artists to come to Syracuse to devote one month to creative projects. More than 400 artists have participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Program, and many of them have gone on to achieve international acclaim. The residency includes a $5,000 stipend, a furnished artist apartment, 24-hour access to our state-of-the-art facilities, and generous staff support. Work by each Light Work AIR appears in a special edition of Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual along with a commissioned essay.

About Darryl Chappell Foundation 

The mission and purpose of the Darryl Chappell Foundation is to foster an appreciation of the fine arts (for example, painting, drawing, sketching, sculpture, ceramics, photography, and metallurgy) among members of the African Diaspora (descendants of Sub-Saharan Africa) through grants, as well as to help foster an appreciation of the fine arts within the community. 

Light Work Announces 2021 Recipients of Grants in Photography

With enormous pleasure and pride, Light Work announces the 47th annual Light Work Grants in Photography. The 2021 recipients are Carla Liesching (Ithaca, Tompkins County), Jessica Magallanes Martinez (Syracuse, Onondaga County), and Paul Pearce (Mattydale, Onondaga County). Nidaa Aboulhosn (Ithaca, Tompkins County) and  Zaire Knight (Syracuse, Onondaga County) each received Honorable Mention recognitions. The Light Work Grants in Photography provide support and encouragement to Central New York artists working in photography within a fifty-mile radius of Syracuse, New York. Each recipient receives a $3,000 stipend and appears in Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual.  A group exhibition of grant recipients’ work will be on view in the Hallway Gallery in Fall of 2021.

Established in 1975, the Grants program is one of the longest-running photography fellowships in the country. In its 48-year history, Light Work Grants have supported more than 130 artists, some more than once. With the help of this regional grant, many artists have been able to continue long-term projects, purchase equipment, frame photographs for exhibitions, promote their work, collaborate with others, and otherwise work toward their artistic goals.

This year’s judges were Ryan Arthurs (visual artist, co-founder of Rivalry Projects, a contemporary art gallery in Buffalo, NY), Ashlyn Davis (writer, editor, and the former executive director and curator of Houston Center for Photography, chief editor of spot magazine, and co-founder of Assembly), Courtney Reid-Eaton (creative director for the Documentary Diversity Project at Duke University Center for Documentary Studies). 


Light Work is pleased to announce this year’s grant recipients:

Carla Liesching (Ithaca, Tompkins County)

Carla Liesching’s ongoing project, Good Hope, is a fragmented visual and textual assemblage that orbits around the gardens and grounds at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa—an historic location, now an epicenter for anti-colonial resistance movements, and also the place of her birth. The Portuguese named the Cape during their “Age of Discovery” and viewed its position at the mid-point along the “Spice Route” with great optimism for its capacity to open up a valuable maritime passageway. Later they established the “refreshment station” there, which set into motion flows of capital from “east” to “west.” Today, the iconic central statue commemorating imperialist Cecil Rhodes is gone and gray plywood covers its pedestal, thanks to the #rhodesmustfall movement, whose representatives declared,  “The fall of Rhodes is symbolic for the inevitable fall of White supremacy.” 

Jessica Magallanes Martinez (Syracuse, Onondaga County)

In she is also for others, Jessica Martinez employs the visual language of documentary, performance, and still-life simultaneously to create an allegory of faith, queer identity, and feminine power. Exploring the intersections of her experience as a queer Catholic Chicana from South Central Los Angeles, she questions identities that are increasingly under attack—leaving behind dense voids where nuanced layers of personhood have been obscured and erased. Jessica Martinez’s photographs create a space for recovering identity and reclaiming power.

Paul Pearce (Syracuse, Onondaga County)

A retired 1st Lieutenant in the Army, Paul Pearce employs staged tableaus and vintage military figures to pose questions about our derived moral and ethical formation. Exploring the implications of moral injury through childhood gameplay, Pearce opines about his military service, stating, “As a forward artillery observer in combat, maps, and a compass guided our way and directed lethal fire at the enemy. Where was my moral compass? I look back to a time where an innocent boy made war with toy soldiers. Where did my moral compass point? What happens to us when we play war?” Pearce returns to toys and play as vehicles to unpack his existential question, but this time with his toys that get wounded and suffer. He inserts his childhood lens and asks where he would be if he saw the consequences of these playtime battles.

We are thrilled to support these inspiring artists in our community. Together they show a wide range of approaches to the medium, and highlight the exceptional talent here in Central New York. 

Six Light Work Artists-in-Residence and Urban Video Project Exhibiting Artists Among Guggenheim Fellows

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded two Light Work Artists-in-Residence and three former Urban Video Project (UVP) exhibiting artists 2021 Guggenheim Fellowships. The Guggenheim is one of the nation’s most prestigious honors for scholarly and artistic achievement, honoring individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. Congratulations to all this year’s awardees, including Light Work and UVP family members Sama Al Shaibi, Ephraim Asili, Crystal Z. Campbell, Jill Magid, Cauleen Smith, and Rodrigo Valenzuela. The recipients are among the 184 artists, writers, scholars, and scientists Fellows selected from a pool of more than 3,000 applicants. 

“I am thrilled to announce this new group of Guggenheim Fellows,” said Edward Hirsch, President of the Foundation, “especially since this has been a devastating year in so many ways. A Guggenheim Fellowship has always been meaningful, but this year we know it will be a lifeline for many of the new Fellows at a time of great hardship, a survival tool as well as a creative one. The work supported by the Fellowship will help us understand more deeply what we are enduring individually and collectively, and it is an honor for the Foundation to help the Fellows do what they were meant to do.”

We are excited to offer signed, limited edition Fine Prints and Contact Sheet volumes featuring works by this year’s Guggenheim recipients. Proceeds benefit and champion Light Work’s on-going support of emerging and under-represented artists working in photography through residencies, publications, exhibitions, educational programming, and a community-access digital lab facility. Search all our offerings at lightwork.org/shop.

Rodrigo Valenzuela 
American Type 15, 2019
Archival inkjet print, 14 x 11″ image on 15 x 12″ paper
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Rodrigo Valenzuela’s work in photography, video, and installation boldly addresses themes of labor, power, and representation. In American Type, he uses and critiques the language and history of abstraction in art, while imbuing his photographs with social and political meaning. Valenzuela participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in 2017.


Works from and essays about 2021 Guggenheim recipients appear in Contact Sheet Annuals 134, 190, 156, and 201. Light Work designs and prints Contact Sheet in the tradition of fine art photography monographs and is completely commercial-free. We invite you to see first-hand the innovative and creative work of artists who are making important contributions to the field of photography.

Over Light Work’s 48 year history, 42 of our Artists-in-Residence and exhibiting artists have received the Guggenheim Fellowship, including Dawoud Bey, Sandford Biggers, Eric Gottesman, John Gossage, Elijah Gowin, Leslie Hewitt, Sky Hopinka, Deana Lawson, Osamu James Nakagawa, Suzanne Opton, Christian Patterson, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Cindy Sherman, Mark Steinmetz, and Hank Willis Thomas. We are humbled to provide time, space, and resources for these artists early in and often throughout their careers. We extend our congratulations to all the 2021 award recipients on joining this illustrious Fellowship legacy. 

We’re Hiring: Light Work Director

Director (Full-time) Master’s degree or equivalent experience preferred

Priority Deadline: May 15, 2021— APPY HERE

This position will remain open until filled. However, we will give priority to applications received before May 15, 2021.

Housed in the Robert B. Menschel Media Center at Syracuse University, Light Work is one of the country’s most respected art institutions. Founded as an artist-run, non-profit organization in 1973, Light Work provides direct support through residencies, publications, exhibitions, a digital lab facility, and other related projects to emerging and under-represented artists working in photography and digital imaging.

We are seeking a dynamic, highly qualified, experienced individual for the Director’s position, and we strongly encourage applications from individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds. The Director reports to the Executive Director and is responsible for Light Work’s overall management, including physical facilities, financial management, human resources, and growth and development. In consultation with the other executive team members, the Director determines the professional practices, standards, and strategies involved in furthering the organization’s mission. The Director will manage all aspects of the organization including curatorial vision, programming, grant research/writing, fundraising, financial management, public relations/marketing, and staff development. Light Work is entering its 50th year of operation, and the successful candidate will expand on Light Work’s legacy in the photographic community and offer a strategic vision in line with evolving institutional and curatorial best practices. They will possess demonstrated managerial skills and experience in all key areas, including budget management.

A demonstrated knowledge of contemporary art, emphasizing photography and digital imaging, is vital to the position. Successful candidates will have a Masters in Fine Arts or equivalent experience with knowledge of photographic and digital imaging techniques. The position requires the ability to work as part of a team and the proven ability to take initiative.

Light Work is an equal opportunity employer. Upon request, both Light Work and Syracuse University will provide accommodation to applicants with disabilities throughout the recruitment, assessment, and selection process.



Job Description

  • The successful candidate will be an individual who understands and champions the organization’s commitment to supporting emerging and under-recognized artists.
  • Responsible for the successful operation of the Light Work Lab so that services are delivered to meet the needs of the members of the Lab and the University community.
  • Responsible for the fiscal success of Light Work Lab and Light Work Visual Studies, Inc., which includes managing budgets and raising funds through earned income and grants from individuals, foundations, and government agencies.
  • Maintaining diversity and artistic excellence in all programs including Artist-in-Residence, exhibitions, publications, and access to all public platforms, including website, social media, print, and marketing campaigns.
  • Successfully manage a staff of six full-time and two part-time staff, and several work study students.
  • Work successfully as a member unit of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC) in order to collaborate with other CMAC units and University Departments in order to make the arts an integral part of campus life.

Syracuse University is an equal-opportunity, affirmative-action institution. The University prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender, national origin, citizenship, ethnicity, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, veteran status, or any other status protected by applicable law to the extent prohibited by law. This nondiscrimination policy covers admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in University programs, services, and activities. For a detailed position description and online application instructions, go to www.sujobopps.com (Job #036896).  Cover letter and resume must be attached.  Review of applications begins immediately and the search will remain open until the position is filled.  Syracuse University is an AA/EOE.