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!

Light Work Awarded $100,000 Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has honored Light Work with a $100,000 multi-year programming grant. Distributed over the next two years, these funds will support Light Work’s renowned residency and exhibition programs, offering support and visibility to emerging and under-recognized artists working in photography and image-based media. This is the second Warhol Foundation grant that the forty-six year-old arts institution has received, following the first in 2015. Light Work extends our congratulations to all the other grant recipients for their great contributions in the field.

The highly-coveted Andy Warhol Foundation grants focus on serving the needs of artists by funding the institutions that support them. In total, 42 organizations nationwide will receive more than $3.6 Million in support of scholarly exhibitions, publications, and visual arts programming, including artist residencies and new commissions.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Warhol Foundation for their recognition of Light Work as one of the leading arts organizations in the country,” said Light Work Director Shane Lavalette. “With their ongoing funding of our programs, we will continue to focus on our mission of providing direct support to artists.”

One testament to Light Work’s artist-centered mission comes from award-winning photographer, author, curator, and former artist-in-residence Debra Willis, who reflected on the benchmark importance of the organization in her early career, “During my month-long residency at Light Work I discovered what many artists had already known — Light Work is a place where photographers are embraced, supported and treasured. Whenever photographers talk to me about their work and the place where they feel most comfortable, Light Work is evoked as a spiritual-like place where photographers can be totally involved in their work.”

In accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, The Andy Warhol Foundation’s mission is the advancement of the visual arts. The Foundation’s primary focus in making grants is to support the creation, presentation, and documentation of contemporary visual art, particularly work that is experimental, under-recognized, or challenging in nature, emphasizing that the Foundation “believes that arts and culture are a fundamental part of an open, enlightened society.” The Foundation manages an innovative and flexible grants program while also preserving Warhol’s legacy through creative and responsible licensing policies and extensive scholarly research for ongoing catalogues raisonnés projects. To date, the Foundation has given more than $200 million in cash grants to more than 1,000 arts organizations in 49 states and abroad and has donated 52,786 works of art to 322 institutions worldwide. For more information, see warholfoundation.org.

For more on the selected organizations and projects receiving funding read the online announcement and browse the the Awarded Grants page.

Light Work Welcomes New Lab Manager

Today, Light Work welcomes Dan Boardman as its lab manager. Boardman begins his position July 16 and replaces long-time lab manager Amrita Stützle. Stützle leaves the position after four years to pursue a Masters Degree in Fine Art at the University of Pennsylvania. We wish her much success in her academic pursuits and future exhibitions and projects.

Dan Boardman is not a new face at Light Work. We got to know him and his work during his month-long residency in 2015. He has exhibited internationally and is a founding director of Houseboat Press, an award-winning publisher of artists’ books. Over the years he has fostered a relationship with our organization as a service member in our community-access DIY digital services lab.

“We are excited to welcome Dan back to Light Work as the community lab manager,” says Shane Lavalette, director of Light Work. “Dan’s past experience brings together technical expertise with a passion for working with others on creative projects, aligning with Light Work’s ethos of artists supporting artists. We look forward to working with Dan to continue serving the vibrant photography community in Central New York and beyond, and bringing Light Work Lab into the future.”

Our new lab manager reciprocates our own excitement and enthusiasm. “It is with great pleasure that I join the team at Light Work as Lab Manager,” says Boardman. “I’m looking forward to continuing the mission of serving artists working with photography. I believe strongly in this mission. In 2015 as an artist-in-residence I was able to see first-hand the care, dedication, and expertise of the entire staff at Light Work. I am honored to be able to join this team. I’m excited to get to know Light Work’s community both here in Syracuse and all over the world.”

Dan Boardman lives in Brutus, NY. Boardman received a BFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2008 and his MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2012. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally and has work in both public and private collections. In 2016, Aperture short-listed Boardman for their PhotoBook Award and he was a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow in 2013. Recent exhibitions include 321 Gallery in Brooklyn, Harvard University, Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts, Musée des Beaux-Arts in Le Locle, Switzerland, Sad Gallery in Seattle, and The Photography Gallery at Riley Hall, University of Notre Dame.

Re:Collection: Pacifico Silano on Robert Benjamin

Visitors to our website can now explore thousands of photographic works and objects from the Light Work Collection in a new online database that expands access of work by former Light Work artists to students, researchers, and online visitors. To coincide with the our new 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 Robert Benjamin’s Jaiya, 1984 from 2016 Light Work in-residence, Pacifico Silano.

If you’ve ever taken a Photography 101 class, you’re familiar with the cardinal rule: no pictures of babies or dogs. There’s something about how everyone likes them, and so that deems them “unserious” subject matter. And yet many photographers, over the course of their careers, will, at one point or another, break the rules and turn their camera to the family pet. We love to be disarmed by these images as they bring us a sense of levity in an increasingly divided and hostile world.

Robert Benjamin’s 1984 photograph, Jaiya, is a gentle reminder of the unconditional love we receive from our devoted, four-legged friends. A bed of grass fills the frame, the dog laying against it in the sun, with a glimpse of the photographer’s foot appearing in the lower right-hand corner. It’s an image that tells us of the simple pleasures in life like laying outside in the summer and briefly forgetting our troubles. We want to be as carefree and content as a dog, to not have to stress, worry, or live in fear for the future.

Find more of Pacifico Silano’s work online here.

Explore the Light Work Collection online at http://collection.lightwork.org

Light Work Seeks Lab Manager

Light Work, a nationally recognized, artist-run photography and digital imaging center at Syracuse University, seeks qualified candidates for the position of Light Work Lab Manager.

Light Work is seeking a dynamic, highly qualified, experienced individual for the position of Lab Manager, and we strongly encourage applications from individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds. The Lab Manager is responsible for the success of all aspects of Light Work’s renowned public-access photography & digital imaging facility including its daily operations, budget, payroll, training, and customer service. The successful candidate will be an individual who understands and champions the organization’s commitment to supporting emerging and under-recognized artists. The Lab Manager will supervise several staff members and work closely with artists, students and other users of the lab to assist them with projects ranging from b&w photography to digital printing. Successful candidates will have a BFA or equivalent experience with expert 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. The candidate will possess demonstrated managerial skills and experience in all key areas, especially budget management. The Lab Manager will responsible for point-of-sale reconciliation, expenditures, maintain budget records, and submit monthly financial reports. The individual in this position is responsible for maintenance of all equipment, servers and the organization’s website. Education is a key component of Light Work, the Lab Manager develops a schedule for photography classes and programs, recruits instructors and promotes educational opportunities through social media and conventional advertising outlets. Other responsibilities include equipment and building management, invoicing customers, and purchasing equipment and supplies. The successful candidate will be a creative and efficient problem solver. The Lab Manager must be able to assess current business practices to achieve Light Work Lab objectives.

Job Qualifications
• The successful candidate will be an individual who understands and champions the organization’s commitment to supporting emerging and under-recognized artists.

• They will possess demonstrated managerial skills and experience in all key areas, especially budget management. The position requires the ability to work as part of a team and the proven ability to take initiative.

• The successful candidate will be a creative and efficient problem solver. Working knowledge of photographic practices and techniques, including digital imaging, is a must. The successful candidate must possess this knowledge in order to effectively advise Artists-in-Residence, as well as support the darkroom staff. As an artist-run organization, priority consideration will be given to a working artist.

• The Lab Manager must be able to assess current business practices and develop, plan, and execute programming to achieve the lab’s objectives. As part of budget management, the Lab Manager will recommend expenditures, maintain budget records, and submit monthly financial reports.

This position will remain open until filled. However, priority will be
given to applications received before May 1, 2019
. In order to apply, visit www.sujobopps.com (view exempt salaried opportunities).

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 #035542). 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.

Re:Collection: Robert Benjamin on Lawrence McFarland

Visitors to our website can now explore thousands of photographic works and objects from the Light Work Collection in a new online database that expands access of work by former Light Work artists to students, researchers, and online visitors. To coincide with the our new 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 Lawrence McFarland’s Untitled image from Robert Benjamin, Lab member and 2014 Light Work artist-in-residence.

Special note: Robert Benjamin: River Walking is on view in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery March 18 – July 27, 2019

At times photographs can feel too substantial, anchored to the hard, physical realities of our world. Here, in McFarland’s beautiful photograph, even the road seems to evaporate into the almost weightless atmosphere. The black top and fence posts remain vague markers, while light and space emerge as the true subjects―as in a dream or vision.

I find myself wondering if Mr. McFarland has still to travel down this expanse to nowhere, or has he successfully and gratefully left the worst behind? The icy tire tracks don’t answer the question, only confirming a passage has occurred.

Of course, the happy news is that he made it home again, and has stopped long enough to hear the quiet, smell the snow, felt the small mystery―and brought it back for us to share.

Explore the Light Work Collection online at http://collection.lightwork.org

Rose Marie Cromwell: April 6 AIPAD Book Signing

Rose Marie Cromwell: El Libro Supremo de la Suerte
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Book Signing: 2-4 p.m.
Booth #613

The Photography Show (AIPAD)
Pier 94
55th St. and 12th Ave
New York City, New York

We are thrilled dto announce Light Work 2019 Photobook Award recipient Rose Marie Cromwell will be signing copies of her award-winning debut photobook, El Libro Supremo de la Suerte, on Saturday, April 6, from 2-4 PM in Booth #613 at The Photography Show, presented by AIPAD in New York. We have fewer than 100 copies of Cromwell’s visual novella in stock, so be sure to arrive early to add this photobook to your collection.

Rose Marie Cromwell’s El Libro Supremo de la Suerte (The Supreme Book of Luck) is the result of eight years she spent traveling to Havana to make pictures, from 2005 to 2013, and pays homage to a Cuba that she grew to love over that time. Through a lyrical sequence of images of everyday rituals, she captures a multilayered Cuba that continues to defy expectations. Cromwell’s photographs take us to a place that is, most of all, profoundly human. Through this, she expresses her belief that even intimacy is political.

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

ABOUT AIPAD
One of the world’s most prestigious annual photography events, The Photography Show is the longest-running and foremost exhibition dedicated to the medium, offering a wide range of museum-quality work, including contemporary, modern, and 19th-century photographs as well as photo-based art, video, and new media. The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) will hold The Photography Show for the 39th time on April 4-7, 2019, at Pier 94, in New York City.

See you soon, NYC!

Re:Collection: Marvin Heiferman on Toby Old

Visitors to our website can now explore thousands of photographic works and objects from the Light Work Collection in a new online database that expands access of work by former Light Work artists to students, researchers, and online visitors. To coincide with the our new 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 Toby Old’s Diving Mule, Orange County Fair, from Loose Games Series, 1991 from Marvin Heiferman, Faculty, International Center of Photography.

Square photographs, like snow globes, are classically balanced and seem to offer up perfect little worlds, at least until their contents get shaken up a bit. Think Vivian Meier, Diane Arbus, Peter Hujar or Robert Mapplethorpe, Larry Fink, and even Robert Adams. Think Toby Old, too, who, since the 1970s, has been drawn to various spectacles in, and the fleshiness of, everyday life. Trained as a dentist―a field that, like photography, demands a forensic eye for detail―Old went on to picture disco revelers, boxers, strippers and their audiences, and public events, all with an appreciation for both localized cultural values and the more generalized ways of the world. In this photograph, a silhouetted mule, hurtling headlong into a swimming pool at a state fair, hints at mythology, Muybridge, and danger, while rapt observers underscore Old’s fascination (and ours) with extraordinary things we can see when we’re receptive, patient, or maybe just lucky enough.

Explore the Light Work Collection online at http://collection.lightwork.org

Re:Collection: M. Neelika Jayawardane on Zanele Muholi

Visitors to our website can now explore thousands of photographic works and objects from the Light Work Collection in a new online database that expands access of work by former Light Work artists to students, researchers, and online visitors. To coincide with the our new 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 Zanele Muholi’s Lerato (Syracuse), 2015 from M. Neelika Jayawardane, Associate Professor at SUNY Oswego and Light Work board member.

Zanele Muholi’s work has always focused on telling stories that were rarely incorporated into the national narrative, or South Africa’s celebration of itself as a newly democratic nation. As a “visual activist,” Muholi’s portraits provide the foundation for her remarkable, long-term cartographic project, Faces and Phases. This portrait series, created between 2007 and 2014, maps, “commemorates and celebrates the lives of the black queers” Muholi met during journeys that spanned rural and urban South Africa. The project also collects first-hand accounts that bear witness to the schizophrenic experience of living in a nation where LGBTI people are often the targets of violence—this despite the fact that South Africa’s progressive constitution specifically protects the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) people. Having realised that not having photographic evidence of her maternal or paternal grandparents resulted from a “deliberate” erasure, Muholi remembers feelings of “longing, of incompleteness, believing that if I could know their faces, a part of me would not feel so empty.” That knowledge of deliberate, systematic erasure from the nation’s historical records is so acute that she is driven now to “project publicly, without shame.”

We recognize, today, that ethnographic and tourist photographs serve the function of aiding Western visitors’ creation of subjectivity—as superior, perhaps benign, socially, intellectually, and geographically mobile, and participating in the flows of modernity. That project of European modernity required that the African subject remained firmly “fixed,” immobilized in time and place. Given that history, Muholi’s image of Lerato Dumse, a writer who documents their travels together for this project, reminds us of the significance of black portraiture photography—photographs of black subjects by black photographers—in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As with W.E.B. du Bois’American Negro installation for the 1900 Paris Exposition—which organized 363 images into albums—Muholi uses photography and portrait-making as powerful political tools that contribute to one’s self-perception, as well as to the ways that others visualize who you are, as an individual or as a social group. Muholi’s work also signifies an older tradition of African studio photography, in which it is plain that those within the frame—people who colonial administrators and contemporary travelers from the geo-political West often misrepresented and caricatured—are no longer satisfied with remaining as simple “subjects.”

Today, there is a proliferation of photographs of black people, and in particular of black, African people, by white photographers. It is not just an “absence” of images that Muholi’s work helps counter, but an over-abundance of a problematic gaze that has its roots in white supremacist ideologies. As photography scholar John Edwin Mason recently wrote on Twitter, “White people like to look at photos of black people. There’s a seemingly insatiable demand [for] photos of black folks. Part of the reason is that photos give us permission to stare.” Though we “all like to stare,” he argues, audiences in the geo-political West have historically liked “to stare at the racial other.” Whilst some of that looking can be borne of somewhat benign curiosity, and even accept and celebrate the challenges that Muholi, and other black women and non-cis-gendered photographers pose, much of what we continue to reward in portrayals of African people is what Mason calls a “safe” gaze. That photographic gaze allows the “looker” who is geo-politically situated in the West to remain in a comfortable, traditional role—wherein they are entitled not only to look, but to penetrate, and to impose. It does not “disrupt established ways of seeing—and, thus, knowing—black and brown people,” or “take viewers outside of their comfort zones.” Because of the “safety” that such portraiture affords white viewers, especially, Mason concludes, it does little to challenge or change ways “of seeing and knowing that are the product of societies in which white supremacy is a given.” Though such photographs are often attractive (mostly because they meet stereotypical expectations we have been trained to imagine as “African”), and technically and compositionally expertly-made, they also fail us by presenting our world in solely heteronormative terms.

That failure of imagination is what this remarkable photograph by Muholi—and Lerato Dumse’s seemingly simple, direct look-back at us—counters. Here, Dumse is a powerful, playful co-creator of their portrait. They are self-styled, moving between phases in mood, in dialogue with the photographer and potential audiences.

The photograph gives us permission—perhaps even invites us—to stare back at Dumse’s lovely, symmetrical face, and their choice of slightly oversized check-pattern jacket, paired with an unlikely shirt patterned with bold, vertical stripes. But we know that we are not driving their narrative, or simply instrumentalising the person in the frame of the photograph as an “other” to further our own subjectivities. Rather, we commune with them with a respect and an understanding that this person is able to powerfully fashion themselves and how they wish others to see them. They are in dialogue with us, looking back and pushing back against the narrow possibilities that hegemonic culture made us all believe is all we have. This portrait gives us—all of us— the courage to ask for far more.

Find more of M. Neelika Jayawardane’s work online here.

Explore the Light Work Collection online at http://collection.lightwork.org

Light Work Receives 2019 NEA Art Works Grant

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) acting chairman, Anne Carter announced on Wednesday, February 13 that Light Work is one of 1,000 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. In its first 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction.

Today, the NEA announced awards totaling more than $27 million in its first major funding announcement of the fiscal year 2019, including an Art Works award of $35,000 to Light Work to support Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program and production of Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual. The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

“The arts enhance our communities and our lives, and we look forward to seeing these projects take place throughout the country, giving Americans opportunities to learn, to create, to heal, and to celebrate,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“We’re grateful for the National Endowment for the Art’s continued support of our residency program and their recognition of Light Work as one of the leading arts organizations in the country,” says Light Work’s director Shane Lavalette. “Thanks to the support of the NEA we are able to offer today’s emerging and under-recognized artists the time, space and resources they need to develop their creative projects.”

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.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

To learn more about the 2019 Artists-in-Residence, read our announcement on the Light Work Blog.

To become a supporter of Light Work yourself, consider making a contribution by beginning or renewing your subscription. We encourage you to help us achieve our goal of matching the NEA’s generous support. Contribute today and get something back in return. Browse limited-edition prints, signed books, and Contact Sheet at  www.lightwork.org/shop

All subscriptions will assure that you receive the NEA-supported issue of Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual 2019 next summer.