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.

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.