Hidden in Plain Sight, Gallery Talk at Everson Museum of Art

Hidden in Plain Sight
Gallery talk with John Mannion and Sean Hovendick
November 15, 2012 at 6:30pm
Everson Museum of Art
401 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13202

Capturing poignant moments of the human experience and provocative environmental interventions, TONY: 2012 photographers John Mannion and Sean Hovendick will give a gallery talk to discuss their work and provide insight into how this medium invites us to reflect upon that which often goes unnoticed.

Dennis Morris: Growing Up Black

In this selection from his archive, Dennis Morris gives us a beautifully well-judged and eloquent portrait of the black diaspora, frozen at a particular moment in time. It is pregnant with anticipations of what is still to come, infused with future possibilities. We are invited to read these images backwards and forwards. Growing up black in the 1970s, they suggest, was not so much a state of being as a state of becoming.

— Stuart Hall

Growing Up Black charts not just the history of Black Britain but Britain itself. Published by our friends at Autograph ABP, the renowned photographer Dennis Morris captures intimate moments within the black community, his images recording the frequently contested history of the first generation to call themselves black.

Dennis Morris started his career as a photographer at an early age. He was 11 years old when one of his photographs was printed on the front page of the Daily Mirror. As a young boy in the church choir, he was given a camera which was to spark his lifelong passion for photography. Growing Up Black is a beautifully designed, thought provoking monograph which documents domestic life in 1960s and 70s Hackney, East London, where Morris moved with his family aged 4.

To accompany the black and white photographs and Morris’ own text are four compelling essays by key commentators on black culture – essayist and broadcaster, Professor Stuart Hall; writer and lecturer Kobena Mercer; author, broadcaster and award winning columnist, Gary Younge; and Director of Autograph ABP, Mark Sealy.

Limited to an edition of 500 with a signed silver gelatin print by Dennis Morris, Growing Up Black blurs the boundaries between social commentary and art object and reveals the foundations of Dennis Morris’ photographic journey.

Find more information about the publication here.

Jeffrey Henson Scales on NYT Lens blog

Today’s New York Times Lens blog features the series That Year of Living by Jeffrey Henson Scales, whose exhibition of the same title will be on view in the Light Work Main Gallery until July 10. That Year of Living is comprised of images that were made in the year following Scales’ treatment for prostate cancer—what began as an exercise in the process of healing concluded in renewing his passion for engaging life on the street. The Lens has a great slide show of the work as well as an essay by Meg Henson Scales.

That Year of Living is also the subject of Contact Sheet 161.

Best of the Rest: Laura Heyman in The New Yorker

Check out this great notice for Laura Heyman’s exhibition Pa Bouje Ankò: Don’t Move Again in the latest issue of The New Yorker. The Palitz Gallery in New York City, where Don’t Move Again will be on be on view until June 16, is the location for the latest staging of this exhibition, which premiered in the Light Work Main Gallery in September 2010. Click here to read more about the show and to see more images from the project, which captures life in Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake. Make sure to stop by the Palitz Gallery, at the Lubin House, before June 16 to see the prints in person if you’re in the area. You can also read about the work in Contact Sheet 158.

Above: Blondine Herard, Polycarpe Racine, Mariot Herard, Daschmine Herard, December 2009

Jeffrey Henson Scales Interview

That Year of Living, an exhibition of work by Jeffrey Henson Scales, will be on view at the Light Work Main Gallery until May 27. Click here to read more about this amazing series, which was made in the time after Scales had been diagnosed and successfully treated for cancer.

Before the opening reception for the show yesterday, Scales gave an interview about his work to WSYR. In the interview, Scales also talks about what makes a good photograph, making work on the streets of Manhattan, and his #1 tip for taking pictures (take a lot of them!).

Best from the Rest: Lola Flash interview with Nono Osuji

Check out this fantastic video interview of Lola Flash by Nono Osuji. Lola talks about many things, including being honest in your work as an artist, her first camera (a Minox), addressing racism and homophobia in her images, and the latest phase of her ongoing project Epicene.

Lola Flash was a Light Work Artist-in-Residence in 2008. Her work is featured in the Light Work Annual 152 and in the Light Work Collection.

Best from the Rest: Left of Black

Check out this amazing conversation between Carrie Mae Weems and Duke University Professor Mark Anthony Neal from Left of Black. They talk about many of Weems’ iconic series, including the Kitchen Table Series, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, Slow Fade to Black, Constructing History, and her latest project, in collaboration with Social Studies 101, called Operation Activate, a grass roots public art anti-violence intervention in Syracuse, New York. We’d love to hear your thoughts about the interview, and it would be great to hear from people living in Syracuse about how Operation Activate has impacted the community. Please leave your comments down below!

DuBois, Stein, and Steinmetz East of Eden

Love the work that Sarah Stolfa and her staff are doing for photography and photographers over at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. Known for staging world-class exhibitions in their space, PPAC’s upcoming show is something special. Three long-time Light Work friends, Doug DuBois, Amy Stein, and Mark Steinmetz, will be in a show there which opens March 3. The show, called East of Eden, sounds amazing. The exhibition revisits themes explored in the John Steinbeck novel, including, according to the PPAC, ” . . . themes of the west as a place for transformation and prosperity, familial relationships, America on the brink of change and the deterioration of the small town.”

I recently spoke to Sarah Stolfa, executive director, and Christopher Gianunzio, exhibitions coordinator at PPAC, about their reasons for staging East of Eden now and with these particular three artists:

“There has been a lot of discussion lately about attention span as it relates to both literature and artistic, or more specifically, photographic practice. We had been discussing the tremendous crossover between photography and literature in terms of descriptive power, narrative, and how photographs can function like written language. We wanted to do a show that fused these two mediums.

The Internet has radically changed the way we experience images and writings. We wanted to create an exhibition that reacted against this diminished attention span through photographic projects where time became an important factor in their conceptualization and production. The novel, East of Eden, is so sweeping in its scope, both in terms of time and the length of the book itself, it seemed like the perfect fit. Conceptually, it made sense to take a novel that has been so influential in literature and create an exhibition of contemporary works that embodied many of its central themes.

Doug DuBois’s work about his family, All the Days and Nights, fit perfectly with the concept of the show. Having worked on one project for decades, it has become a record of a family’s complex history. The themes within the work and the scope of the project both relate to Steinbeck’s novel. As does the theme of being stranded or traveling to a better place that Amy Stein uncovers in her work Stranded. Stein, in the aftermath of the failed response to the flooding of New Orleans in 2005, states the work “is a meditation on the despondence of the American psyche as this collapse of certainty left the country stuck in an unfamiliar space between distress and relief.” This loss of faith in the American promise resonates with the novel East of Eden. Mark Steinmetz’s interest in photography is how it can function as literature. The South Central work is not a document of Knoxville, TN, but rather a loose narrative about the deterioration of the small town and the socio economic implications during a shift in technology.

The other unifying link between these three artists, though working within varying aesthetics, is their choice to use the portrait as the delivery system.”

The exhibition open March 3 with a reception March 10 and an artist talk by Mark Steinmetz on March 11. In the meantime, check out Doug DuBois, Amy Stein and Mark Steinmetz‘s work in the Light Work Collection as well as this video of DuBois talking about his work over on Sunday and Wednesday:

Doug Dubois Interview from Georgi Unkovski on Vimeo.

—Mary Goodwin, Associate Director

Image: Amy Stein, Peri, Route 64, Outside Lexington, Kentucky, 2005

Best from the Rest: Dawoud Bey

I would like to thank Dawoud Bey for his very thoughtful and considered blog entry about censorship at the National Portrait Gallery and the larger historical and cultural implications of this attack. While there are many subtexts to this controversy, and to the many attacks that have come before, that have used moral outrage to justify discrimination, it is critical to place all of these attacks into a clear context of what they truly are — an attack on the core American value of free speech that is guaranteed by the rule of law.

Many of those who are calling for censorship of free speech say that the government should not be supporting art they don’t agree with or find offensive. If you dig down deep enough there are very few endeavors in the United States that the government does not support or help make possible. When we eat anything made from corn, or travel or ship goods on an interstate highway or through an airport, or simply turn on the faucet and have clean drinking water, all of those things and many, many more are made possible with government support. All of these essential things are the benefit of living in a free society. In order to keep America free there is no doubt that the government should support free speech.

If you can control and limit free speech, then you can control people, and that is real power. Freedom, and especially freedom of speech, so clearly defines who we are as Americans. We are a country with over 300 million citizens who are encouraged to speak their minds and there will always be opposing viewpoints on most issues and subjects. One of the great roles that artists play in our society is to ask difficult questions of how we are negotiating our progress as a culture. Artists celebrate the joy and triumph of the human spirit and illuminate the darkness and despair of our struggle. The only way for us to continue to move forward is to allow ideas to be contested in the public arena and to keep expression and speech free.

There will always be subtexts of whose voice or what group is being attacked when censors try to prevail, but any attack on free speech is an attack on us all, and that is what must be resisted at all costs. In the United States we all need to unite to preserve free speech.

—Jeffrey Hoone, executive director

Image: Ted Wathen, War Memorial Coliseum, Syracuse, NY, 1981.
From the Light Work Collection.

Best from the Rest: hideseek.org

Best from the Rest is a new feature that will highlight really wonderful articles from our favorite blogs and online magazines. For this very first Best from the Rest, we’re doing something a little different — I’m featuring a whole website, and one that’s text-based, for a very special reason. Timing and urgency make this necessary.

The website hideseek.org is a clearing house of information about the controversy that has risen surrounding the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. The site offers links to a growing number of articles chiming in on the issues, including the excellent piece written this past weekend by Holland Cotter for the New York Times. The site also offers a list of screenings going on all over the country in support of the work and freedom of expression, including the screening being hosted by Light Work and ArtRage tomorrow night.

Censorship of this kind must be acknowledged and discussed publically. This is the best way to restart discussion and dialog that conservatives, and in this case the National Portrait Gallery, decided that we shouldn’t have. When institutions begin to retroactively recurate their exhibitions based on political pressure, this is bad news for everyone, especially those who would like to make up their own minds about the work and the issues it addresses.

Take a look at hideseek.org and let me know what you think in the comments.

— Mary Goodwin, Associate Director