Intern Spotlight: Maddy Fetzko

At Light Work, we appreciate the amazing energy and hard work of our interns and work-study students. From projects in the lab to the installations of our exhibitions, they truly help to make all that we do possible. We thought it would be nice to introduce some of our recent interns in a series of posts here on our blog.

Today, we’re happy to introduce you to Maddy Fetzko!

What are your aspirations as an artist?

To be able to do it all, to experiment with different mediums, tools, and styles. I don’t want to compromise my abilities in art and photography for design, or vice versa. I really want to incorporate more illustration into my work, because that’s something I used to do a lot of when I was younger but have been slacking in recently.

What photograph do you wish you had taken, but missed the opportunity?

When I was on a trip to the Caribbean, I saw a man who had a parrot perched on his shoulder. I asked the name of the parrot he said her name was “Beautiful”. I would have loved a portrait of him and the very well-behaved Beautiful.

What is your favorite smell?

Coconut everything and Pine scented candles

What do you like about Light Work?

How motivated staff and members are to continue creating things they are passionate about, despite other responsibilities like work and school. Also the fact that people from around the world travel all the way here to learn something new about photography. I’ve already learned a ton about printing, film photography, and editing in the few months I’ve worked here.

Keep up with Maddy and her work by following her on Instagram

Intern Spotlight: Kendra Ward

At Light Work, we appreciate the amazing energy and hard work of our interns and work-study students. From projects in the lab to the installations of our exhibitions, they truly help to make all that we do possible. We thought it would be nice to introduce some of our recent interns in a series of posts here on our blog.

Today, we’re happy to introduce you to Kendra Ward!

What was the first photograph you remember taking?

The first photographs I remember taking seriously were of my family. One of my favorites was a black and white photo of my aunt smoking a cigarette on Thanksgiving 2007.

What is your favorite smell?

Flour or fresh baked bread.

What are you listening to right now?

If I’m editing, I pretty much exclusively listen to podcasts. Right now I’ve been catching up on Once Upon a Crime and Myths and Legends. When I’m shooting I usually listen to the lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to.

What do you like about Light Work?

I can’t say enough good things about Light Work. It’s really inspiring to be around artists who help other artists. The entire staff is incredibly supportive, and I can easily say that my work would not be where it is today without their assistance. It’s such a privilege to be around, and get to know the artists in residence. Assisting them has taught me so much and has been an amazing experience that I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Light Work.

Keep up with Kendra and her work by visiting her website or following her on Instagram

Intern Spotlight: Siyaka Taylor-Lewis

At Light Work, we appreciate the amazing energy and hard work of our interns and work-study students. From projects in the lab to the installations of our exhibitions, they truly help to make all that we do possible. We thought it would be nice to introduce some of our recent interns in a series of posts here on our blog.

Today, we’re happy to introduce you to Siyaka Taylor-Lewis!

What are your aspirations as an artist?

To make work that has a positive influence on the way African Americans are perceived/understood/view ourselves. To make work that I believe in and that I am proud of. To live a lifestyle that inspires people to be the best versions of themselves.

What do you like about Light Work?

Light Work is a community of people who care a lot about photography and the process. It is its own school, and not only teaches you about photography technically but politically, and in relationship to the outside world/art world. It’s actually very special.

What are you listening to right now?

Alfa Mist, Kendrick, my beats, Hiatus Kiayote, Bla6k, Thundercat, Dave East, The Internet, SIR, “Biking” by Tyler The Creator, “Feels Like Summer” by Childish Gambino.

Keep up with Siyaka and his work by visiting his website or following him on Instagram.

Browse Light Work’s New Online Collection

Visitors to Light Work’s website can now explore thousands of photographic works and objects from our permanent Collection in a new online database that expands access to work by former Light Work artists, students, researchers, and online visitors. Optimized for speed, image quality, and overall user experience, this new website will enable visitors to learn more about the Light Work Collection and the history of the organization.

Already an early-adopter of digital technology in the 1980s, Light Work made the Collection fully accessible online in the early 1990s. The new site has been in preparation for over two years, builds on the information available in the previous format, and introduces new search features. This project was made possible with support from David Broda at Syracuse University’s Photo and Imaging Center, The Gifford Foundation, Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS), The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), The Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, and Light Work staff, led by Jeffrey Hoone, Shane Lavalette, Mary Lee Hodgens, and Victor Rivera.

The funding and support is a testament to the archive’s importance and the quality of the work done to make it more accessible to the public. The material in the Light Work Collection has significant research value, and thanks to the redesign of the online platform, these resources will be more widely available to educators, artists, critics, curators, and the arts community. The new participatory approach allows both the online visiting public and internal staff members to locate a desired image, object, or information in the archive more efficiently and accurately.

“The Collection is one of our greatest assets—people, I think, will be thrilled by it. It’s not only beautiful looking, but it’s an incredible resource for artists, curators, educators, and students of photography,” says Mary Lee Hodgens, Light Work’s Associate Director. “They will have the whole Collection at their fingertips.”

The Collection documents Light Work’s history of support for artists and their creative process. In 1979, early participants in our Artist-in-Residence Program began informally donating photographs to Light Work, which accumulated into a small collection. Light Work soon began to invite each artist to contribute work while in Syracuse to establish a permanent collection. The Collection now primarily comprises work made by artists who have participated in the residency and exhibitions as well as Light Work Grant recipients. The Collection represents Light Work’s 45-year legacy of supporting emerging and under-represented artists and boasts an extensive, diverse archive that maps the trends and developments in contemporary photography. Light Work’s Collection database currently contains more than 4,000 items, all of it original work, including color and black-and-white photographic prints, alternative processes, collages, installation pieces, artist books, portfolios, and publications. Exceptional in scope, the Collection covers all genres from documentary to abstract to experimental to conceptual work.

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 represented by top gallerists. The Collection has grown over the past four decades due to the generosity of former artists-in-residence and individual donors. The Collection includes many works of major importance from artists such as Dawoud Bey, Zanele Muholi, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems, William Wegman, and James Welling.

Explore the richness and diversity of works across the photographic medium. Have questions or need additional support, our collection management staff can provide useful background information and offer guidance in selecting images that best supplement class curriculum or research topics.

Search Permanent Collection

Announcing the 2019 Light Work Artists-in-Residence

Every year Light Work invites between twelve and fifteen artists to come to Syracuse to devote one month to creative projects. Over 400 artists have participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence 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 Artist-in-Residence is published in a special edition of Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual along with an essay commissioned by Light Work. Work by former Artists-in-Residence is also part of the Light Work Collection.

We are pleased to announce the 2019 Light Work Artists-in-Residence!

Carolyn Drake
Carolyn Drake

Kris Graves
Kris Graves

Pao Her
Pao Her

Mark McKnight
Mark McKnight

Meryl Meisler
Meryl Meisler

Rafal Milach
Rafal Milach

Zora Murff
Zora Murff

Sarker Protick
Sarker Protick

Arpita Shah
Arpita Shah

Cian Oba-Smith
Cian Oba-Smith

Jiehao Su
Jiehao Su

Ka-Man Tse
Ka-Man Tse

Cristina Velasquez
Cristina Velásquez

See past Artists-in-Residence at
Applications are now open for 2019. Apply at

Announcing the Light Work Photobook Award 2018

We are pleased to announce that the Light Work Photobook Award 2018 has been given to Rose Marie Cromwell, for her monograph El Libro Supremo de la Suerte, which will be co-published this year by TIS Books and Light Work. The Light Work Photobook Award is given each year to an artistic project that deserves international attention. As with all of Light Work’s programs, in selecting the artists to receive this recognition an emphasis is made to highlight emerging and underrepresented artists of diverse backgrounds.

Rose Marie Cromwell is a photographic and video artist who is based in Miami. Her work explores how globalization affects human interaction and social politics and the tenuous space between the political and the spiritual. Cromwell received a BFA degree from Maryland Institute College of Art in Art Photography in 2005, and an MFA from Syracuse University in Art Photography in 2013. Cromwell is a recipient of the Fulbright Research Grant, and a Syracuse University full-ride graduate fellowship. She was named one of “25 Under 25 Up and Coming American Photographers” by the Center for Documentary Studies in 2008, and “One to Watch” by the British Journal of Photography in 2017. She has had solo exhibitions at the Diablo Rosso gallery and the Antitesis Art Space in Panama City, and participated in the 1st Biennale del Sur in Panama City, and Prizm Art Fair in Miami. Cromwell’s artwork has been published online and in print in a variety of international magazines, including the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Vice Photo Issues, The New York Times, Camera Austria, Time Lightbox, ARC Magazine, Musee Magazine, The Oxford American, and The New Yorker. She participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in September 2014.

Rose Marie Cromwell
El Libro Supremo de la Suerte
TIS Books/Light Work, 2018
Hardcover, 192 pages
ISBN: 978-1-943146-12-3
First Edition
Signed by the artist

Rose Marie Cromwell’s debut monograph, El Libro Supremo de la Suerte (“The Supreme Book of Luck”), refers to a little piece of photocopied samizdat that supports a covert lottery in Havana, where Cromwell spent eight years living and photographing. Of the work, Paula Kupfer writes: “In exploring the visual connections between numbers—exact and absolute units of measurements—and the mystical, wayward ways of luck, as embodied by friends and family performing for her camera, Cromwell offers a lyric homage to Cuba, the place that’s shaped her practice and that, moreover, continues defying expectations and interpretations.”

Pre-order a first edition SIGNED copy of our 2019 Book Collectors Offer El Libro Supremo de la Suerte by Rose Marie Cromwell and you will also receive a complimentary subscription to Contact Sheet (a $115 value) for only $75!

Stephen C. Mahan III (1956-2018)

Light Work was bereaved to learn of the sudden passing of colleague and friend Stephen C. Mahan III, in a July 26 vehicular accident in Manlius, NY.

Mahan, the founding director of the University-based Photography and Literacy Project (PAL) and a teacher in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, was an adventure-seeking force whose boundless verve and compassion was evident in every aspect of his life. For over thirty years he was a vital leader in the Syracuse art and photography community. “His infectious enthusiasm and curiosity touched everyone he encountered and drove him to use his skills in photography to improve and enrich the lives of others,” says Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University and Light Work.

Mahan participated in many programs at Light Work including receiving a Light Work Grant in 1989 and serving on our board of directors from 2010-2018. But his most enduring contribution to the field was his work teaching literacy and life skills through photography to young students. Beginning with a collaboration with his wife, Mary Lynn Mahan, at the Ed Smith school in Syracuse, Steve went on to teach and mentor a generation of young students so that they could discover value and self-worth by exploring their talents through photography and writing.

Since 2010 Steve accomplished this work through PAL a collaborative program among the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers at SU, and the Syracuse City Schools. Located in the Nancy Cantor Warehouse the PAL Project is a model for helping students develop literacy skills by using photography, video, audio recordings, and writing.

photo credit: Carrie Mae Weems

With Steve at the helm, PAL not only offered youth exposure to the photographic medium, he cultivated a safe environment for program participants, a place in which youth, could frame, explore and share visual narratives of the world around them.

Doug Dubois, Department Chair and Associate Professor in Department of Transmedia at Syracuse University, reflected on the unique space Mahan fostered at PAL stating,

“Steve designed, furnished, equipped and ran the PAL Project as a dynamic classroom/community space in the basement of the SU Warehouse. Crammed with art books and magazines, computers of various vintages, cameras of all shapes and sizes, poetry, posters and prints from past PAL projects covering the walls, the space delighted and inspired students and visitors alike.”

Student Work: 2017 ‘Seen and Heard Project’ Photography and Literacy Project (PAL)

In his capacity as director, Mahan also taught the course Literacy, Community, and Media in VPA’s Department of Transmedia. As part of that course, University students had the opportunity to become mentors to city schoolchildren involved in the project The PAL program received national recognition and funding from the Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS) in New York City and the Fay Slover Foundation in Boston among others.

Through his incredible dedication and desire to make the world a better place, Steve touched many people, and as our thoughts go out to Steve’s family, we will do our best to honor his memory in the weeks and years to come.

Stephen C. Mahan III is survived by Stephen and Rosemarie “Riley” Mahan of Geneva, his wife Mary Lynn, daughters Riley and Sadie; two brothers Michael “Mickey” (Deborah) and Joseph “Go”, and sisters Mary Pat Longstreet (Paul) and Jean Marie Shutter (Steve), and beloved in-laws, nieces, and nephews.

If you wish to send a note of condolence please visit

Calling hours: 5-7 pm Friday, August 17 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 310 Montgomery St. Syracuse.

Memorial Service: 11:00 am, Saturday, August 18 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 310 Montgomery St. Syracuse.

In lieu of flowers, a 529 College Savings Account has been established for Sadie. Contributions can be made as follows: Checks payable to College America, memo – FBO Sadie Mahan and mail to Mary Lynn Mahan. Checks can be directed to Light Work at 316 Waverly Ave, Syracuse, NY 13244.

Stephen Mahan’s obituary in the Post Standard can be found here.
SU News article describing Stephen Mahan’s work and legacy can be found here.

Light Work Partners with For Freedoms To Launch Billboard Campaign in Syracuse, NY

In conjunction with the forthcoming exhibition, Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul: Selections From The Light Work Collection, Light Work and For Freedoms are collaborating on a series of billboard artworks in the Syracuse area. This is part of The 50 State Initiative, an ambitious new phase of For Freedoms programming that culminates this fall. Building upon the United States’ existing artistic infrastructure, For Freedoms has developed a network of artists and institutional partners, including Light Work, who will produce nationwide exhibitions, public art installations, and local community dialogues in order to introduce nuanced, artistic thinking into public discourse. Centered on the vital work of artists, these exhibitions and related projects will model how arts institutions can become forums for civic action.

The 50 State Initiative will include the installation of a series of artist-produced billboards in public and art spaces in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Billboards are going up across the country this fall in advance of midterm elections, while other educational and outreach components of the initiative will occur from September through December. Six of the billboard installations are within the city of Syracuse, New York, and will be in various locations between August 13 – October 7, 2018. The images and text that comprise these billboards aim to provoke conversations in our community that lead to civic engagement. To help easily identify billboard locations and encourage engagement, a free downloadable map with information regarding the works on view will be available to the public.

“Our hope was to spark dialogue about our collective civic responsibility to push for freedom and justice today, as those before us pushed for freedom and justice in their time through peaceful protest and political participation.”

— Eric Gottesman

Thursday, September 20 at 6pm, For Freedoms co-founder Eric Gottesman will join us for a gallery talk about the process of curating Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul and how this thematically intersects with the For Freedoms campaign artistic and art ideals.

201 South Geddes and West Fayette Street (digital billboard)

700 East Washington and Almond Street

201 South Geddes and West Fayette Street (digital billboard)

201 South Geddes and West Fayette Street (digital billboard)

Butternut and North Salina Street (side 1)

Butternut and North Salina Street (side 2)

In appropriating the billboard format, these by award-winning artists invite the viewer to engage critically with the messages their work presents as well as with the medium of political and commercial advertising itself.

Former Light Work artists-in-residence Eric Gottesman and Hank Willis Thomas started For Freedoms in 2016 as a non-partisan platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States. Inspired by Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings of the four universal freedoms that Franklin Delano Roosevelt articulated in 1941—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms seeks to use art to deepen public discussions of civic issues and core values, and to clarify that participation, not ideology, is the bedrock of citizenship in American society. For Freedoms is part of a rich history of artists employing means of mass communication to provoke political discourse. For Freedoms believes art and artists play important roles in galvanizing our society toward a more representative and transparent government.

Free Public Programs

Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul:
Selections from the Light Work Collection

August 27 – October 18, 2018
Kathleen O. Ellis and Hallway Gallery at Light Work
Reception: Thursday, September 20, 2018, 5-7pm

Gallery Talk: Eric Gottesman
Thursday, September 20, 2018, 6pm
For Freedoms co-founder Eric Gottesman will share back-story about the inception of the For Freedoms and use his curatorial selections from the Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul exhibition as talking points to ignite a dialogue about the various socially relevant topics.

Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul: Selections from the Light Work Collection exhibition and related programming are partially supported by a grant from The Central New York Community Foundation (CNYCF).

To request high-resolution images for press reproduction and interviews, contact Light Work Promotions Coordinator, Cjala Surratt directly at (315) 443-9933 or

Collector Spotlight: Kenneth Montague of The Wedge Collection

One of the wonderful things about Light Work’s Fine Print Program is the affordability our limited-edition prints by artists. This has allowed for photography lovers of all kinds, from around the globe, to begin or grow their collections and support a good cause at the same time.

Many serious collectors and institutions are regular subscribers to Contact Sheet, by way of our Fine Print Program, and have discovered new artists in the process. We love having the opportunity to visit our collectors in person and to see Light Work prints in their amazing collections. Recently, we had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Kenneth Montague in Toronto, who has been a longtime advocate for the organization.

“I have acquired important photographs for my personal collection through Light Work’s Fine Print Program—Carrie Mae Weems, Deana Lawson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Zanele Muholi—among many others. My most recent purchase was this quietly powerful print by John Edmonds (Phantom, 2017). These affordable works have greatly enhanced my perspective on contemporary photography, and added value to my growing collection.”

– Dr. Kenneth Montague | The Wedge Collection, Toronto

Take it from Kenneth…

Now is a great time to begin or grow your personal collection!

Light Work’s Online Benefit Auction: April 17 – May 1 on Paddle8

Raise Your Paddle and Bid! Light Work is pleased to partner with Paddle8 to launch an online benefit auction of more than 60 limited-edition, archival fine prints, and signed books. Bidding is available through our auction partner Paddle8 April 17 through May 1, 2018. Proceeds benefit Light Work and support our mission of supporting emerging and under-represented artists working in photography through residencies, publications, exhibitions, and a community-access digital lab facility.

For this unique online auction, we are offering hand-selected Fine Print and Book Collector auction lots curated by Phil Block (Deputy Director for Programs,ICP), who co-founded Light Work with Tom Bryan in 1973. All purchases include a one-year subscription to Contact Sheet. The 2018 Light Work benefit auction catalog boasts an offering of diverse works by internationally acclaimed and award-winning photographers. Bidding begins between $300 and $1,500.

The auction includes works by John Edmonds, Matt Eich, Lida Suchy, Wayne Lawrence, Zanele Muholi, Paul D’Mato, Christian Patterson, Doug DuBois, Lucas Foglia, Ann Hamilton, Leslie Hewitt, Mark Klett, Shane Lavalette, Andrea Modica, Mark Steinmetz, William Wegman, James Welling, and more!

We thank you, as always, for your continued support of the hundreds of artists that have called Light Work home over the past forty-one years. With your support, we will continue to do this valuable work for many more years to come. Thank you.

Please visit our auction to view all lots, and start your bidding!

Phil Block, a long time photographer, founded Light Work with Tom Bryan in 1973, serving as its director for the next ten years. The organization offers space to artists for studio work as well as exhibitions for aspiring photographers. Block curated more than 60 solo and group exhibitions of photography during his time with the nonprofit. We thought of ourselves as being facilitators, catalysts, not as being curators or directors, Block told FK magazine, a journal of Latvian and international photography. We were partners with the artists. Our job was to serve them, and, of course, our success was based on their success. The more we could help them to be successful in what they did, the greater our success would be. Since 1982, Block has worked with the International Center of Photography in New York City, first as associate director and now as deputy director of exhibitions and education.