Call for Entries: 2020 Light Work Grants in Photography

Light Work is pleased to announce the 2020 Light Work Grants in Photography competition. Light Work began offering grants to CNY artists in 1975 to encourage the production of new photographic work in the region. Three $3,000 grants will be awarded to photographers who reside within an approximate 50-mile radius of Syracuse, N.Y. The recipients of these grants are invited to display their work in a special exhibition at Light Work, and their work will also be reproduced in Light Work’s award-winning publication, Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual.

In its 40-year history, Light Work Grants have supported more than 110 artists, some multiple times. With the help of the regional grant, many artists have been able to continue long-term projects, purchase equipment, frame photographs for exhibitions, promote their work, collaborate with others or otherwise continue their artist goals.

All applicants must reside in of one of the following Central New York counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Schuyler, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Tioga or Tompkins.

Three judges from outside the grant region will review the applications. Their decisions are based solely on the strength of the candidate’s portfolio and completed application. Individuals who received this award in 2015 or earlier are eligible to re-apply. Full-time students are not eligible.

The deadline for the 2020 Light Work Grants is April 1, 2020.

Apply online at

Light Work’s Online Benefit Auction: March 10 – 24 on Paddle8

Raise Your Paddle and Bid! Light Work is pleased to partner with Paddle8 to launch a benefit auction of more than 60 limited-edition, signed archival fine prints. Bidding is available online through Paddle8, from March 10-24, 2020. 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.

The auction includes works by Renee Cox, Doug DuBois, Matt Eich, Lucas Foglia, Ann Hamilton, Leslie Hewitt, Mark Klett, Wayne Lawrence, Andrea Modica, Xaveria Simmons, Mark Steinmetz, Lida Suchy, Carrie Mae Weems, William Wegman, and James Welling, among others. In addition to a diverse array of exclusive, signed, limited-edition prints, we are excited to also offer several large-format framed works by award-winning photographers, including Mark McKnight and Kristine Potter. Hung gallery style or as a singular statement piece, every image is a wonderful addition to any collection. Bidding begins between $300 and $3,500, and all purchases include a one-year subscription to Contact Sheet.

We thank you, as always, for your continued support of the hundreds of artists that have called Light Work home over the past forty-three years. With your support, we will continue to do this valuable work for many more years to come. Place your bid and support some of today’s most exciting image-makers!

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

In Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, Light Work Announces Temporary Closure

Nothing is more important to us than your health and safety, and we take seriously our responsibility as a civic institution that serves the public good. In order to protect the well-being of our staff and visitors, and following guidance from local, state, and federal authorities regarding measures that best promote public health, Light Work will temporarily close to the public. We will suspend access to Kathleen O. Ellis and Hallway Galleries, the Light Work Lab, and all workshops and classes beginning Friday, March 13, at 5 p.m. The facility will remain closed through Monday, March 30, 2020. We will continue to monitor developments with COVID-19 and regularly reassess this temporary closure. Please note the Service Lab is still operational. Direct inquiries regarding an outstanding order or new print, scanning or retouching job to  

To be clear, there have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus among our employees. Our goal is to do everything we can to help flatten the curve of this outbreak in Central New York and within our global community. In these tumultuous times, we believe that art can keep us connected and inspire creativity, openness, and generosity. With thoughts for all the members of our community, we’re sharing some ways you can experience Light Work wherever you are, from perusing the 4,000 objects and photographic prints in our permanent Collection, to checking out Urban Video Project’s Insights, (a great collection of exhibition documentation, mixed with clips of exhibited works and the artists’ own reflections), to making a bid in our online benefit auction

Please continue to check our website for additional operations and programming updates, and follow our social media channels for news. We thank you, in advance, for your patience and understanding.

For continued updates on Syracuse University’s policies surrounding COVID-19, please visit

COVID-19 Precaution: Cancellations and Limited Hours

In response to concerns around COVID-19 and in accordance with a directive issued Tuesday, March 10, 2020, by Syracuse University’s Chancellor and President, Kent Syverud, Light Work, a member of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC) at Syracuse University, will cancel all scheduled receptions and artist talks from Friday, March 13 through Monday, March 30, 2020.  During this period, Light Work Lab will temporarily maintain limited hours of operations and will continue to run classes and workshops. We will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday and 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 


Thursday, March 26, 5 to 7 p.m. The Eyelid Has Its Storms. . . reception and talk with exhibiting artist Pacifico Silano

Thursday, March 26, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Newhouse Photography Annual 2020 opening reception

Friday, March 27, 5:15 to 7 p.m. Political Listening: The Forensic Turn in Art and Architecture screening and Q&A  filmmaker Ana Naomi de Sousa

Keep an eye on our website and social media platforms for the most up-to-date information regarding forthcoming events. We are resolute in our efforts to reschedule or offer virtual engagement alternatives for the events on our March calendar. Thank you for your and understanding and patience in this trying time.

For more information or questions on Light Work and Urban Video Project programming, contact Light Work at or 315.443.1300.

Light Work at Paris Photo New York 2020 / Booth P1

With great excitement, Light Work is presenting a curated selection of works from acclaimed photographers at Paris Photo New York 2020, the world’s largest international art fair dedicated to the photographic medium. This event runs April 2-5, 2020, at Pier 94 and you can find Light Work in Booth P1.

Join us in the Publisher and Photography-related Business section to celebrate and collect photography in print and photobooks. Visitors will find an exciting catalog of signed, limited-edition fine prints from photographers such as Ann Hamilton, Mark Klett, Justine Kurland, Wayne Lawrence, Andrea Modica, Xaviera Simmons, Rodrigo Valenzuela, William Wegman, James Welling, Letha Wilson, and many more.

Additionally, Light Work selections boast award-winning signed photobooks from Andres Gonzalez, Gregory Halpern, Mahtab Hussain, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems.  Your purchase from Booth P1 at Paris Photo New York will support some of today’s most exciting image-makers!

Light Work’s mission is to provide direct support to emerging and under-represented artists working in photography and related media via residencies, grants, exhibitions, publications, and a community-access lab facility.

Collectors may preview Light Work’s catalog here.

Artist Conversation: Poulomi Basu in conversation with Fred Ritchin
Thursday, April 2, 4PM 

Paris Photo’s The Artist Talks will present 2020 Louis Roeder Discovery Prize recipient Poulomi Basu, on Thursday, April 2, at 4 p.m. Poulomi Basu, a multimedia artist, photographer, and visual activist, will be in conversation with Fred Ritchin, founding director of the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program at the School of the International Center of Photography. Their discussion will include Basu’s upcoming Rencontres d’Arles solo exhibition in France, the centering of activism and unflinching verisimilitude in her artist practice, and her recent residency at Light Work.

Book Signing: Centralia by Poulomi Basu
Saturday, April 4, 2-4PM
Pier 94 / Booth P1

Join Basu on Saturday, April 4, from 2 to 4 p.m., for a signing of Centralia, her award-winning photobook published by Dewi Lewis Publishing. Limited copies will be available, so arrive early to collect your personally signed book at Light Work’s booth (P1) in the Publisher and Photography-related Business section.

About Poulomi Basu and Centralia
Poulomi Basu is an Indian artist who has received wide attention for her advocacy work for the rights of women. In her practice, she explores how the formation of identity intersects with geopolitics to reveal the deep, often hidden power structures in our societies. She has exhibited internationally, was a Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellow in 2012, won the Magnum Emergency Fund in 2016, and the 2020 National Geographic Explorer Grant. In war, truth is the first casualty. Basu’s book Centralia explores the unsteady relationship between reality and fiction and the forces that manipulate our perceptions of reality and truth. Through a blunt photographic vernacular, Basu exposes hidden crimes of war as an indigenous people fight for their survival.
About Paris Photo

Founded in 1997, Paris Photo has established itself in just over two decades as the leading fair for photography and image-based art by uniting 200 leading galleries and publishers to present vintage and modern works as well as the latest contemporary trends to a growing audience of more than 68,000 collectors, professionals, and enthusiasts. For schedule, tickets, and information about the fair, visit Paris Photo: New York website.

See You in NYC!

Re:Collection: Sophia Pennex on Rita Hammond

Visitors to our 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. To coincide with the our collection website launch, we’re introducing a series on our blog called Re:Collection, inviting 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 Rita Hammond’s Images of a Girl series from Sophia Pennex. Pennex is a freshman in Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Renée Crown Honors Program.

Rita Hammond’s photography series, Images of a Girl (1967), emphasizes the unguarded emotions of her subjects, caught unaware. Like many in the series, this image is raw and powerful, with a quality of suddenness. The organic and candid emotions of the young girl and the blurriness of the gentlemen in the background both attract the viewer’s attention. Co-author of the definitive book about Hammond’s work as well as her friend, Gina Murtagh told me that this image reminds her of a Martin Scorsese film. The men surrounding the girl create a sense of danger, yet she has a slightly defiant look on her face. Murtagh describes the face as young and impressionable.

But the street photography qualities of this image make it hard to tell what is actually happening in this scene. Murtagh described street photography as always trying to catch something and this image embodies this idea. The girl in the front—who is, in fact, one of Hammond’s long-time friends, Lynn Moser—is the only subject in focus. The setting of a busy street, likely 42nd street, and the background of people in motion, give the photograph an overall rushed tone. The juxtaposition of Moser’s in-focus face and startled expression with the rushing, blurry background crowd, provokes our speculation about what may just have happened and what the emotions on Moser’s face actually mean. This image makes us feel a personal connection to Moser. The interesting thing about such identification with Moser is that this experience—a momentary glimpse of a stranger in passing—is not new to us, yet how often do we develop these connections and interests in others?  Others constantly surround us—at least if we occupy an urban environment—but how often do we actually look at each other?

We walk by other people many times in a day. Whether we are in a city or on campus, we are almost always near other people, but constant proximity is not the same as constant human contact. Sure, we may smile or wave to a friend or neighbor, but greeting a stranger is uncommon. As I walk through campus, I see many stone cold and dismissive faces. Everyone seems so engrossed in their own thoughts that I start to feel invisible.

This image captures the experience of escalating mutual invisibility. Our constant, self-absorbed hustle deadens our curiosity about the lives of others. Yet without our attention, other people may start to feel unseen too, turning ever more inward. This is a vicious cycle. However, Rita Hammond encourages us to break this cycle. Her images seize us abruptly and demand we look at one another and makes us realize that we are not alone in this chaotic world.

Find more of Rita Hammond’s work online here.

Explore the Light Work Collection online at

Announcing the 2020 Light Work Artists-in-Residence

Light Work is excited to announce the 2020 Artists-in-Residence: David Alekhuogie, Farah Al Qasimi, Sophie Barbasch, Poulomi Basu, Melissa Catanese, Arko Datto, Alanna Fields, Tarrah Krajnak, Jan McCullough, Harold Mendez, Star Montana, Christie Neptune, and Leonard Suryajaya. This assembly of photographers from across the world represent various approaches to photographic technique, and as part of their photographic practice they explore unique social, political, cultural or personal narratives.

“This diverse group represents the breadth of important and innovative work being made in the field today,” said Light Work Director Shane Lavalette. “We are excited about their visions—the stories, ideas, and issues addressed through their images—and the creative risks they are taking with the medium of photography. We look forward to having them all in Syracuse soon!”

Every year Light Work invites between twelve and fifteen artists to come to Syracuse to devote one month to creative projects. Residency program participants have the opportunity to use their month to pursue their own projects: photographing in the area, scanning, printing for a specific project or experimenting with a new photographic technique. 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.

This year, we’re very happy to partner with two international arts organizations in support of two of our artists. Autograph in London, U.K. has sponsored the residency of Poulomi Basu, the latest for a collaboration extending back to 1996. Additionally, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin, Ireland has sponsored the residency of Jan McCullough. As part of this new exchange in IMMA for 2020, we’re pleased to share that former Light Work Artist-in-Residence Suné Woods will be completing a residency in Ireland next year.

We are pleased to announce the 2020 Light Work Artists-in-Residence!

David Alekhuogie

Farah Al Qasimi

Sophie Barbasch

Poulomi Basu

Melissa Catanese

Arko Datto

Alanna Fields

Tarrah Krajnak

Jan McCullough

Harold Mendez

Star Montana

Christie Neptune

Leonard Suryajaya

See past Artists-in-Residence at
Applications are now open for 2021. Apply at

Announcing the Light Work Photobook Award 2019

Then came Sandy Hook. I remember the day vividly, the complicated emotions embedding themselves and lingering for a long time. Over the following year, I thought seriously about the ways we absorb and synthesize this kind of trauma as a culture, and about how I could begin to approach it as a storyteller. I started visiting sites of mass shootings—from Columbine to Sandy Hook—in an attempt to find the meaning behind this confounding accumulation of grief. — Andres Gonzalez

We are pleased to announce Andres Gonzalez as the recipient of the 2019 Light Work Photobook Award. His monograph American Origami,” co-published by Light Work and Fw:Books, is brilliantly designed by Hans Gremmen. Light Work gives the Photobook Award annually to an artistic project that deserves international attention. As with all of Light Work’s programs, in selecting the artists for this recognition we seek to highlight emerging and underrepresented artists who come from diverse backgrounds.

American Origami presents an unusual and moving reflection on the complexity of a seemingly endless cycle of gun violence in America—a timely publication that is visually striking, poetic, and painful,” said Light Work Director Shane Lavalette. “We are pleased to present Andres Gonzalez with the 2019 Photobook Award, for this powerful project.”

Reflecting on his selection for this year’s award, Gonzalez said, “I am extremely honored to be awarded this year’s Light Work Photobook Award. I arrived at Light Work in 2017 with a backpack full of hard drives and negatives not knowing what was to come of my time at the residency. A month later, with the help and feedback from the Light Work staff, I had a book dummy ready to print. It makes me so very happy to come back full circle and have Light Work co-publish American Origami with Fw:Books.

Andres Gonzalez
American Origami
Fw:Books/Light Work, 2019
Softcover, 384 pages
ISBN: 978-94-90119-81-2
First Edition
Signed by the artist

Andres Gonzalez’s raw project closely examines the epidemic of mass shootings in American schools. His collection of first-person interviews, condolence items, ephemera, and blunt images—made and archival—coalesce in this compelling photobook, depicting a country that violence has sometimes overwhelmed. Gonzalez elaborates, “The varied elements repeat and fold into each other, illuminating the relationship between myth-making and atonement.” American Origami takes the reader on a visual journey of shared grief that illuminates moments of beauty and brings into focus the moral questions inherent in acts of collective healing.

Andres Gonzalez is an educator, photographer, and visual artist living in Vallejo, California. His current work synthesizes in-depth research and the poetics of photography, looking for truths behind the fictional, mythic aspects of American history. He is a graduate of Pomona College and received his MA in Visual Communications from Ohio University in 2004. Gonzalez is a Fulbright Fellow and was selected as one of PDN’s 30. He has also received recognition from the Pulitzer Center, the Magenta Foundation, the Alexia Foundation, and his work has been exhibited internationally. Gonzalez participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in October 2017.

Pre-order a first edition SIGNED copy of our 2020 Book Collectors Offer American Origami by Andres Gonzalez and you will also receive a complimentary subscription to Contact Sheet (a $115 value) for only $75!