Call for Entries: 2022 Light Work Grants in Photography

Light Work is pleased to announce the 2022 Light Work Grants in Photography competition. 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, and their work will also be reproduced in Light Work’s award-winning publication, Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual.

With the help of the regional grant, more than 130 artists have been able to continue long-term projects, purchase equipment, frame photographs for exhibitions, promote their work, or continue their artist goals.

Applicants must reside in 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 selections are based on the strength of the candidate’s portfolio and completed application. Individuals who received this award in 2016 or earlier are eligible to re-apply. Full-time students are not eligible.

The deadline for 2022 Light Work Grants is April 1, 2022, 11:59 p.m. EST

Apply online at http://lightwork.slideroom.com.

Light Work is Hiring!
Associate Director (full-time)

Housed in the Robert B. Menschel Media Center at Syracuse University, Light Work is one of the country’s most respected art institutions. Founded as an artist-run, non-profit organization in 1973, Light Work provides direct support through residencies, publications, exhibitions, a digital lab facility, and other related projects to emerging and under-represented artists working in photography and digital imaging.

Position: Associate Director (Full-time)
Qualifications BFA or MFA in Photography preferred.

Priority Deadline: The position will remain open until filled. We will give priority to applications received before February 28, 2022.More Info

We are seeking a dynamic, highly qualified, experienced individual for the Associate Director’s position, and we strongly encourage applications from individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds. Reporting to the Director of Light Work, the Associate Director is a problem solver and creative thinker who is in tune with Light Work’s mission to support emerging and under-represented artists. The Associate Director is equal parts curator, organizer, and dot-connector. With the Director and Urban Video Project Program Director, the Associate Director rounds out the leadership team for Light Work. This individual is involved with decisions across all of Light Work’s programs with specific attention to relations with visiting artists, exhibition curation, and editing issues of Contact Sheet. They are central to the Artist-in-Residence selection process and Light Work Grants. They also take on day-to-day tasks and provide general support to Light Work’s Director. They will play a key role in advancing Light Work’s mission locally, nationally, and internationally. 

Light Work is an equal opportunity employer. Upon request, both Light Work and Syracuse University will provide accommodation to applicants with disabilities throughout the recruitment, assessment, and selection process. Find more info at www.lightwork.org/opportunities

Job Description

  • Responsibilities Curating two exhibitions per year and two exhibition catalogs (Contact Sheets). Write an introductory text for each publication.
  • Coordinate the operations and hospitality of Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program including, booking and scheduling. Provide additional assistance to artists traveling internationally.
  • Editor of the Light Work Annual. Coordinate content from artists and authors. Liaison with designer, line editor, and staff in preparing the 140-page publication.
  • Plan and participate in Art Fairs like the Armory Show, AIPAD or Photo Paris/New York.
  • Organize Light Work Grant application and jury process

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 #037978).  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.

Darryl Chappell Foundation in Partnership with Light Work
Announce Mentorship Opportunity

The Darryl Chappell Foundation and Light Work are excited to present an opportunity for an experienced photographer to serve as a mentor to two artists-in-residence sponsored by the Darryl Chappell Foundation. The artists will be participating in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program in April and June 2022 respectively. Both organization missions support the concept of providing residents with an experienced mentor to be funded by the Darryl Chappell Foundation to enhance the learning experience of the two residents. The power of a good mentor to share a word of wisdom, to connect the resident with a key resource, or simply to lend an ear is a powerful augment to the state-of-the-art onsite facilities and staff assistance offered by Light Work in Syracuse, New York.

This is a paid opportunity. Both organizations believe in the importance of compensating artists for their work.

The deadline for applying is Monday, February 21, 2022. To apply, submit a cover letter, resume, and references to mentors@darrylchappellfoundation.com.

Every year Light Work invites between 12 and 15 artists to come to Syracuse to devote one month to creative projects. More than 400 artists have participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Program, and many of them have gone on to achieve international acclaim. The residency includes a stipend, a furnished artist apartment, 24-hour access to our state-of-the-art facilities, and generous staff support. Work by each Light Work AIR appears in a special edition of Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual along with a commissioned essay.

About Darryl Chappell Foundation 

The mission and purpose of the Darryl Chappell Foundation is to foster an appreciation of the fine arts (for example, painting, drawing, sketching, sculpture, ceramics, photography, and metallurgy) among members of the African Diaspora (descendants of Sub-Saharan Africa) through grants, as well as to help foster an appreciation of the fine arts within the community. 

Light Work to Receive $25,000 Grant from NEA

The National Endowment for the Arts has approved Light Work for a $25,000 Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) award in the Visual Arts category. Light Work is extremely proud to be among 1,248 projects across America totaling $28,840,000 that were selected to receive this first round of FY 2022 funding. The Grant will directly support Light Work’s renowned residency program, offering support and visibility to emerging and under-recognized artists working in photography and image-based media.

Each year, following an international call for submissions, Light Work selects twelve to fifteen artists for a one-month residency to pursue creative projects. To date, more than 500 artists have participated in the residency program, and many have gone on to achieve international acclaim.

This grant signals national recognition that champions Light Work’s nearly 50-year legacy of advocacy through exhibitions, publication of Contact Sheet, a state-of-the-art community-access digital services lab, and permanent Collection comprising more than 4,000 photo-related objects and images.

“We are honored by this generous recognition from the NEA,” said Dan Boardman, Light Work’s director. “This funding helps us continue to create transformative moments for artists, gallery visitors, students, educators, and the public during this tenuous time in the arts community.”
Patron considers works by 2021 Light Work Grants recipient Paul Pearce at October opening reception


GAP awards reach communities in all parts of the country, large and small, and with diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. These awards represent fifteen artistic disciplines and fields: Artist Communities, Arts Education, Dance, Design, Folk & Traditional Arts, Literary Arts, Local Arts Agencies, Media Arts, Museums, Music, Musical Theater, Opera, Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works, Theater, and Visual Arts. Light Work extends our congratulations to all of the 2022 GAP Grants recipients for their great contributions in the field.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects that help support the community’s creative economy,” said Ann Eilers, NEA’s acting chair. “Light Work in Syracuse, New York, is among the arts organizations nationwide that are using the arts as a source of strength, a path to well-being, and providing access and opportunity for people to connect and find joy through the arts. The supported projects demonstrate how the arts are a source of strength and well-being for communities and individuals, and can open doors to conversations that address complex issues of our time.”

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

About The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
Congress established the NEA in 1965 as the independent federal agency whose funding and support allow Americans to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the skills in every community across America. Visit Arts.gov​ to learn more.

Odette England Dairy Character Interview

Holiday Gift Idea from Light Work! Signed copies of Odette England’s Dairy Character are available for purchase in our shop! Orders must be completed by December 15, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. EST to ensure your gift arrives in time for the holidays. Purchases made after the deadline will be shipped after January 4, 2022.

In her latest book, Dairy Character, photographer Odette England delivers personal insight into the life of a woman growing up on a dairy farm in rural Australia.Expressing the importance of shining a light on girls and women in rural areas, England draws a staggering comparison of the objectification of women and dairy cows. (Russell, Grace, Musee Magazine, September, 16, 2021)

The images are reproduced in delicate tones; England also interlaces blush-coloured papers in the book. But the content is uncomfortable, centring on extreme close-ups which suggest a reductive way of seeing both cows and women. It is a subversive look at the literal and visual language of farming.
(Smyth, Diane, British Journal of Photography, April 16, 2021)



Sydney Ellison (SE): — I just wanted to say that I loved the book and I was so excited to get a little sneak peek at it when I was at Light Work. So first, I wanted to know if you could share a little bit about the manual that you found that inspired the project and what it was and how you reacted to finding it?

Odette England (OE): Sure. So I was visiting my parents. They now live in the town where I was born and I was going through when they leave the house. I turn into a little kid and I start rummaging around in cupboards and looking for secrets and photographic inspiration and things to enjoy looking at and reading. And in this cupboard in a box, I found my dad’s old cow manual and every registered dairy farmer receives a copy of this manual. It’s not exclusive to Australia. Lots of countries have these cow manuals and the idea is that they’re given to the farmer as a way to help the farmer rank and assess the physical strengths and weaknesses of their dairy cows. So they do that by focusing on two things: they focus on the production of milk and the breeding production of calves and they call it “dairy character.”

When I think of someone’s character, I think about writing a character reference. I think about someone’s morals and values and what kind of person they are. But for a cow, when they talk about dairy character, it’s entirely about quality and quantity. It’s the quality of the milk they produce and the calves they produce and the quantity, how much milk and how many good calves. This book is very plain. It’s black and white. It’s written exclusively by men. It’s half text, half images. The photographs are very low quality, but they’re extreme closeups of the bodies of cows. So you see utters, teats, legs, vaginas, bottoms, anything that speaks to a cow’s ability to make a lot of milk and produce a lot of calves.

But they’re very grotesque images because they’re so visually, physically violent and they’re almost too descriptive. It was a very quick look that I had through this manual. I remember my father having it. He kept it in the second drawer of his filing cabinet, which was always locked. And I remember seeing it from time to time as a kid. So coming across it and looking through it,  I felt like I’d found something wonderful and terrifying and curious and problematic, but I’d also found this foundational piece for work that I’d been making for five years. I had all these little prints over my studio wall in New York City and I couldn’t call it a project. I couldn’t call it a series. I couldn’t call it anything other than images that I’d been making or images that I’d been asking my parents to make on my behalf. And when I found this manual, suddenly I had the foundation and the framework and the bodily object of a book, a structure that made sense of all of these pictures that I’d been making for the longest of times.

SE: That’s amazing! Like the idea that sometimes you just have to wait, and then the practice is contextualized. I’m really interested in the way that this project brings up criticism in the ways that visual and textual language can reflect each other and influence each other. As well as the way that both of those things shape our perceptions of everything around us. And I’m familiar with this type of criticism in photography, which reinforces how photography can be exploitive.  So I thought it was interesting that you brought in the ways that this happens with farming and specifically with female cows. So I’m wondering if you could talk a bit about how you think both verbal and visual language influence our attitudes towards people, places, and ideas and how you think they maybe overlap or how you think they differ?

OE: Okay. So I’ll start by talking about just within the book itself. There’s a mix of images. There are images that I’ve made. There are images that my parents have made under my direction or instruction from the cow book that they lifted directly from that. So they’re archival pictures, and then there are family snapshots and then there’s writing from myself, maybe 18 or 19 short stories, each about 300 words, that sit right in the middle of the book. There are photographs that illustrate those stories, but they’re not included in the book. So I felt from early on, there were ways in which I had to tell this story through different kinds of photographs and through different forms of language. And some of that language needed to be storytelling, specifically autobiographical storytelling because the images didn’t support the story or illuminate the story in the way that words could.

And then there were images that I felt had to be included because the story around or behind them was ineffectual. So I feel like photography is great at showing things, but also terrific at excluding things because it’s always a crop and it’s always a subjective decision. But words are like that very much too. But possibly going back to, if I’m understanding the question correctly, is so much about growing up in a male-dominant community and particularly a rural farming community is it’s a life about gesture and it’s a life about nonverbal communication and it’s a life about communicating with your body. It’s about the simplicity and the economy of words. Farmers don’t use adjectives, right? They don’t over-explain anything because they don’t need to. And it’s similar to the way that I understood and grew up making pictures, that they were economical, functional, clinical.

They were not meant to be voluminous. And they weren’t meant to suggest other things outside of themselves. And so even in my writing, in the book, I’m very, very direct. And there’s not a lot of fluffiness around the words. And so I’ve tried to do the same thing when I was making the pictures as well. Even in choosing the photographs that went into the book, I very specifically chose images that have a kind of tactile value to them. They look and feel like what it was to grow up in that environment. They look dirty, they feel rusted, there’s bent corners. I’m pointing to physicality, not just in the subject matter, but in the actual objecthood of the image itself. So that idea of tactile values was super important. You know, they had to look a bit haphazard. They had to look a bit disheveled. They had to look like how a female body was regarded and considered and treated within this community, that it was a body of labor. It was a body of secondaryness. I’m not sure that’s a word, but they were secondary to the men. And often behind cows as being these heralded beasts, these heralded bodies. 

SE: For a good amount of my life. I grew up in a very rural area. Neither of my parents went to college. So art school is a very different environment. And I’m wondering how you navigate bringing up this topic that is specifically contextualized in working class and rural experience to an audience that most likely doesn’t have the same complex understandings of your community and how you show that it goes beyond just being about “these people” or this community’s prejudices.

OE: I think some of that comes around to how women in contemporary society are still secondary bodies in many situations. And the way that I often come at my photographic practice is to speak autobiographically, but it’s always with a kind of awareness of things that I still experience now because rural life in Southern Australia, in this tiny community in the 1970s through the 1990s, is so removed from me now, let alone anyone else, that I had to find a bridge. And a part of that bridge came through photographing my daughter and looking at the way that she’s now 11 years old, but I’ve been photographing her for this project not knowing it was a project, not knowing that I was photographing her for this since she was five. There are kinds of behaviors. There are kinds of ways in which the female body is looked at, judged, picked apart, assessed, considered both by humans, looking at bodies, but by photography, looking at a female or female-identified body, and those ways still persist, although the ways in which we society do that has changed and has moved.

And I don’t want to say move forward because that implies a positive direction. I’m just saying it’s moved, but there are still the same issues that I think women or female-identifying bodies and faces experience. And that became something that was important for me to include in this book. It couldn’t just be about a rural community. It couldn’t just be about farmers beating their chests and saying, “We are dominant. We are the gods and there are the animals.” And then there are the women. It had to speak to the kinds of labor that women still perform, for the most part, without being paid for, let alone recognized for it. Diane Smyth at the British Journal of Photography sent me a wonderful article from the New York Times, which spoke to the idea of the pandemic’s influence on females and female-identified persons and how their lives had changed almost backward from having to perform a kind of role of woman or perform a kind of female identity that was expected, anticipated required of them. That wasn’t something I was thinking about when I was putting together this book, how the pandemic was cause this.

SE: So you talked a little bit about why it was important to include your daughter in the work and I’m wondering if you could talk about your choice to include your parents in the work and the process of making, rather than just the subject matter, such as why that was important, and what their response has been to the project.

OE: I started asking my parents to re-perform my past in around 2010. I was here in the US in grad school, and I wanted to nurse myself back to health, or nurse back to health this place that we loved and lost, this dairy farm, in 1989 owing to near-bankruptcy. And my way of doing that, because I couldn’t travel back, was to have them go back to a place that was their career, their labor, their great love, and have them re-walk this land over and again, every month for an entire year. And I would direct them where to make photographs. I would ask them to go back to the family album and find pictures of my younger brother and I, and to remake those pictures. All the while I’m sending them back to a place of pain, a place they couldn’t sustain that couldn’t sustain them.

It’s a perversely psychologically damaging request, but it is a request that a parent would understand. If my daughter was asking me to do the same thing I’d say, yeah, no hesitation. And then also about what it means to have some kind of parental custodianship over decision-making to help your child, to help a family member. So I didn’t feel like I could talk about this place. I mean, I never owned, my parents never owned, this place. The bank-owned our home, this place that they started off sharecropping, I couldn’t talk about it without including their voice. I couldn’t talk about it without including the years that they spent trying to make a life, trying to make a living from soil, from things outside of their control. Because a farmer’s life is almost entirely governed by things like the weather, which we have no control over.

And I was trying to control it through photography, which we assume we have some kind of control over. But actually the reverse, I think, is true, that we can’t control it no matter how much we think we’re in control of a device in front of our eyes. So I felt like their voice was really important to that and that some of the pictures in the book that they had made that I couldn’t make. Sometimes I write as me. Sometimes I write as my father, sometimes I write as my mother. So there’s this slippery use of language and storytelling where, you don’t know whose voice it is, but they sort of overlap a great deal, as do the photographs too. There’s this overlapping of past and present and growing up, all happening at once. So it was this very layered way of looking at story.

My daughter was a participant in this. You know, it’s a very collaborative process. There were pictures I made of her that she insisted I didn’t use. There are pictures that I made that she felt had to be in the book, her understanding of it. If she was uncertain or uncomfortable about anything, I didn’t include it. You know, she’s not a muse, she’s not a model, she’s her own person. And so it felt really important to include her in that process, but also to make her monumental. Like I spend a lot of time photographing from a really low angle. I wanted the female body to stop being this thing that was bent over and hunched over for labor where the faces isn’t seen, although there are images where I’ve cropped the body off, like the cow manual crops bodies off. But I also wanted to herald her like that Alexander Rodchenko series, Young Pioneers, where you are looking up at the majesty and wonder and joy of someone being thought of as magnificent and not just being a body, but being something that feels and emotes and has energy and passion, and fear.

 And so, a lot of the photographs of Hepburn—that’s my daughter’s name in the book—speak to that. She’s like a sunflower, kind of, looking for the sun.

SE: My last question is just that, besides having grown up in different circumstances, what ways do you think your daughter might experience the issues of this work differently than you? Or I guess, even speaking to growing up in different circumstances, if you have ideas as to how she relates to it differently?

OE: That’s a good question. And a good question for her. When I go back to the farm, which I try to do every year—though since the pandemic started, I have not—she comes with me and it’s usually my mum and my daughter and I who go back. We have this ritualistic behavior that has become apparent over the last five, six years since Hepurn was five years old. We go back to the farm. We have to ask permission from the owners to walk the land. It’s been through, I think, nine or ten owners, at least since 1989. And in the past six years, it’s been at least two different owners. So there’s this ritual of having to ask permission to even go there. Hepburn goes there with a child-like, inquisitive joy of experiencing farm life through a few hours of visiting.

And she thinks it’s the most magical place on earth, right? Because what she sees is what I saw—there’s soil and there’s trees to climb, and there’s hay bales to make cubbies out of. And there are still animals there. There are animals to pet and fences to climb over. And, you know, a stick becomes a sword or a wand. Everything is steeped in fantasy and magic because it’s not like an everyday life. For me, you know, I had a 200-acre playground. So for me being outdoors was not only this wondrous place of play, but it was also a place of imagination. It was a place of education. How I learned color, you know, yellow wasn’t yellow, yellow was canola or alfalfa or canary or egg yolk. The way that I learned things was through these 200 acres. For her, it’s so much fun.

And because she loves to pretend, she would do these things. She would pretend to be a cow and be walking on all fours through where the old dairy was. And I would just photograph it for fun, not thinking it would be part of this, but it was interesting to watch her behave as I had once, absolutely benignly and innocently about the wonder of place, which is how I was. But when I look retrospectively at the photographic evidence, at the oral storytelling, the difference between the oral histories that my father would tell versus my mother would tell, the kinds of rules and restrictions my mother had, and the role that she had to enact in that community versus the freedom that my father had. It’s only upon becoming an adult and a parent myself that I can look back at those things with a loving eye, but also a much more critical eye.

So for Hepburn, it’s still this magical, wonderful place. And she looks at these images from the cow manual and says, “Wow, they’re strange!” Or she’s aware to some extent of what she’s interpreting what she’s seeing, but certainly probably not in the way that I’m experiencing it or revisiting it because that was my life. And her life is a city life. And one where she lusts after something that seems so wonderful. If I told her we were moving back there tomorrow, she would be immersed with joy. But the reality of how that life would be very different because of what it means to be remote. How do you get to school? Where do you go shopping? 

SE: Thank you so much for talking with me and congratulations on the book. It was so much fun to talk about this.

OE: Thank you.

Sydney Ellison
 is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work addresses themes of gaze and intersectionality primarily through collage and self-portraiture. Ellison is an art photography student at Pratt Institute and an editor of The Photographer’s Greenbook, a resource hub for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy within the lens-based art community.
— 
Internships at Light Work
Offered year-round, Light Work internships provide a platform for undergraduate and graduate students to gain practical, hands-on experience in our exhibitions, education, and collections departments. Light Work’s programming includes exhibitions, educational classes, workshops, community education programs and initiatives, residencies, publications, a digital darkroom, and a library. We endeavor to match each intern with duties that match their interests and learning goals. To apply for internships fill out our Internship Application PDF and send it and all requested documents to lab@lightwork.org

Estate of Laura Aguilar Donates Works to Light Work’s Permanent Collection

With enormous pleasure and gratitude, Light Work announces the acquisition of works from the estate of photographer Laura Aguilar (1959 – 2018). The self-portraits, consisting of two triptychs and four singular black-and-white images, represent Aguilar’s exploration of the lived realities of members of various marginalized groups, including women, lesbians, Latinas, the working class, obese people, and those with mental health struggles and learning disabilities. It humbles us to receive this gift of six photographic works from this extraordinary artist. We consider it an honor to join her estate and other art institutions in the stewardship of her artistic legacy through the sharing of these important works.

 In May of 1993, Laura Aguilar was an artist-in-residence at Light Work. This was a prolific period for Aguilar; she entered Light Work following the success of her iconic Three Eagles Flying and the series, Clothed/Unclothed. Aguilar applied for the month-long residency after her colleague and friend, Willie Middlebrook, completed his residency in 1992. He suggested that she create the body of work comprising 12 Lauras and Don’t Tell Her Art Can’t Hurt as a means to further influence her series of nudes in nature.  

Laura Aguilar, Center #70 (abc), 2000-2001, Gelatin silver print , 8 x 10 in.

Before Aguilar’s 2016 retrospective, Show and Tell, she wanted to create the Laura Aguilar Trust to protect her legacy. Aguilar spent time with co-trustees Christopher Velasco and Sybil Venegas to clarify her wishes for how to handle her work after her death. One primary goal was to make sure that her work found its way to institutional collections for future generations to study. Light Work is one of those institutions. Aguilar often spoke so warmly of her experience here and encouraged many aspiring photographers to apply. After her residency, Aguilar gave the Light Work Collection two of her Clothed/Unclothed prints (1993), the 12 Lauras, and three unpublished prints from her trip to Mexico. Since her death, the Laura Aguilar Trust of 2016 has placed her works in a number of collections. As a thank you, the Trust wanted to give Light Work a range of significant works that continued Aguilar’s legacy after her residency. This gift includes Windows (Nikki on my Mind) (1990), Center #70 (abc) (2000-2001), and selected images from the Stillness & Motion series (1999). 

Laura Aguilar died in 2018 at age fifty-eight, just as recognition of her work was gaining momentum. Her eponymous retrospective, Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell, at the Vincent Price Art Museum in Monterey Park, California, was the breakout exhibition of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA: Latin American and Latino Art in LA 2017-2018 and also Aguilar’s last exhibition during her lifetime. Since her death, she has joined the ranks of other iconic female photographers.

Laura Aguilar, Stillness #30, 1999, Gelatin Silver print, 11 x 14 in.

“We are honored by the donation of work by Laura Aguilar,” said Dan Boardman, Light Work’s director. “Aguilar was a visionary artist who exemplifies our mission to support emerging underrepresented artists at pivotal early points in their careers. This gift will aid students, members, and visiting artists as they use our Collection for research and inspiration.” 

Header image: Laura Aguilar, Windows (Nikki on my Mind), 1990, Three Gelatin Silver prints, 8 x 10 in each

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

The Light Work Collection is an extensive and diverse archive that maps the trends and developments in contemporary photography. There are currently more than 4,000 works of art in Light Work’s archive. The Collection contains all original work, including color and black-and-white photographic prints, alternative processes, collages, installation pieces, artist books, portfolios, and publications. 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 securing top gallerists to represent them. This noteworthy collection includes all genres of expression found in contemporary photography, including documentary, abstract, experimental, and conceptual work. The Collection has grown over the past four decades due to the generosity of former artists-in-residence and individual donors.

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

Review: Carl Mellor on James Henkel’s Object Lessons

This review is written by Carl Mellor, a freelance writer. He covered visual arts for the Syracuse New Times from 1994 to June 2019. Mellor continues to write about exhibits and artists in the Syracuse area.

James Henkel’s solo exhibition at Light Work samples an extensive body of work, one created during a career spanning more than 30 years. Henkel photographs discarded objects of all kinds: pitchers, cups and bowls, toys, bricks and bits of concrete, and most of all, books. He gathers ordinary items of no discernible value, repairs or repositions them, and ultimately creates memorable images.

The current show, for example, includes Henkel’s photo of a comb, with both physical reality and a sense of illusion playing a role. The comb stands on one end, appearing to find its balance and perhaps even move on. Henkel’s lens and composition skills have transformed the object.

Similarly, a photo of two toothbrushes places them standing up and in close proximity to each other. The head of each toothbrush touches its counterpart, suggesting visual implications. From one perspective, this looks like two figures embracing. From another, there’s a touch of irony in this view of one toothbrush massaging another toothbrush instead of teeth.

A third photo shows an artificial arm standing on its own. The hand’s fingers are thrust into a surface, inviting viewers to ask questions. Where did the arm come from? Why was it discarded?

installation image courtesy of Julie K. Herman Photography

Elsewhere, the exhibit documents Henkel’s multiple approaches to the objects he photographs. For “Brick #2,” he stacks bricks which, in the presence of light, cast a long, jagged shadow. That piece is a companion to “Bricks #5,” a work also encompassing bricks and a shadow.

And Henkel plays with ceramic objects that are damaged and not fully restored. A pitcher’s handle is strapped to one side, but much of one side is missing. Chips from the battered object reside nearby. We view the object as it currently exists, not as it once was. A second photo, “Two-Handed Vase,” operates in the same context; an additional handle is strapped on.

“Shallow Bowl,” one of the best pieces in the exhibit, offers another example of Henkel’s creativity. We don’t see the bowl’s exterior at all. Instead, the camera’s perspective seems to come from within the bowl, extending up through a surface opening. We get a glimpse of a forest scene outside.

The exhibition also references Henkel’s intense interest in books. He’s clearly comfortable working with them, and that translates into interesting, incisive images.

In one instance, he depicts a tall, frayed book cover with a much smaller book strapped to it. A second work portrays a book cover combined with an illustration of a medieval ship. In a third piece, a book’s innards are wrapped around a largely intact volume.

“English Poet,” meanwhile, consists of pages cut up and collaged. Viewers see a partial view of a man’s face, a similar view of a second face, and a caption: “English poet, novelist and critic.”

Mentioning those works offers only preliminary discussion of Henkel’s facility for interpreting cast-off books. Among other things, these are different from other objects photographed by the artist.

Books contain text and offer narratives and ideas in formats as different as novels, biography, and poetry. That challenges viewers to compare and contrast books and objects such as bricks and ceramics.

installation image courtesy of Julie K. Herman Photography

That challenge, of course, comes by implication. At the very least, Henkel’s photos, taken as a group, reference the meaning of objects in our lives. When do they have emotional import? When do they have little or no impact?

Those questions aren’t part of a seminar. Henkel is a talented visual artist who’s able to work with varied materials and to keep improvising successfully. “James Henkel: Object Lessons” nicely communicates his skills and points to themes in his work. It offers a fine overview of a veteran photographer’s work.

Henkel, it should be noted, has taken part in many exhibitions over the years. Indeed, he’s shown his work at Cavallo Point Gallery in San Francisco, Flanders Art Gallery in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota, among other venues in the United States. In addition, his images have appeared in galleries in Iran, Russia and China.

His solo exhibit is on display in Light Work’s Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery. A second show, devoted to work created by winners of the 2021 Light Work grants, is on view in the Hallway Gallery. It features artworks by Carla Liesching, Paul Pearce and Jessica Magallanes Martinez.

The Light Work exhibit closes December 9, 2021

RELATED PROGRAMS

All programs are free and open to the public. For parking information, visit parking.syr.edu

Thursday, November 4, 5-7 p.m. — Gallery Reception

Thursday, November 4, 6 p.m. — Gallery talk with exhibiting artist James Henkel

Light Work Launches 2022 Subscription Program

Great Cause. Great Art. Light Work’s mission is to provide direct support to artists working in photography and related media through residencies, publications, exhibitions, and a community-access lab facility. Our Fine Print Program, which features striking limited-edition, signed prints, is an accessible way to expand your art collection while championing our mission of offering opportunities to emerging, under-recognized, and historically excluded artists.


2022 Benefactors Offer

Abelardo Morell
Atong Atem
Sharon Harper
Meryl Meisler
Odette England, Dairy Character
Contact Sheet (5 editions annually)

Benefactors Offer: Contributors of $1,500 will receive Abelardo Morell’s image from the Master Print Edition, all three prints in our Fine Print Program Atong AtemSharon Harper, and Meryl Meisler, and a signed copy of Dairy Character by Odette England. In total, a $2,005 value! By participating you will save on the cost of the prints and book, and receive a one-year subscription to Contact Sheet.

Individual prints may also be purchased in the Light Work Shop



2022 Master Print Edition
Abelardo Morell

Camera Obscura – Late Afternoon View of the East Side of Midtown Manhattan, 2014
Archival inkjet print, 11 x 14.125″ on 13 x 17″ paper
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Purchase in the Light Work shop

Abelardo Morell’s images reveal the extraordinary in the familiar. Morell writes, “The pictures I made around the house when I first became a father have influenced much of the work that I do today―from looking at a book with the curiosity of a child to turning ordinary rooms into giant cameras. ”The image Camera Obscura – Late Afternoon View of the East Side of Midtown Manhattan, 2014 is one example of his prolific series, Camera Obscura. “Over time, this project has taken me from my living room to all sorts of interiors around the world. One of the satisfactions I get from making this imagery comes from my seeing the weird and yet natural marriage of the inside and outside.”



2022 Fine Print Program
Atong Atem

Fruit of the Earth, 2016
Archival inkjet print, 15 x 10” on 17 x 13” paper
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Purchase in the Light Work shop

Atong Atem is a South Sudanese artist and writer from Bor now living in Narrm (unceded Aboriginal land outside Melbourne, Australia). Atem’s photos explore the experiences of young immigrants, and how they knit together the different cultures that surround them. She focuses on migrant narratives, postcolonial practices in the diaspora, the relationship between public and private spaces, and identity through portraiture. Her distinctive artistic practice combines both photography and hand painting, incorporating bold color and pattern inspired by her South Sudanese background. Atem recently exhibited at Brisbane Powerhouse Museum, where she won the inaugural MELT Portrait Prize. Atem participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in June 2018.



Sharon Harper

One Month, Weather Permitting, 2009 Night Sky Over Banff, Alberta, September 12 – October 10, 2017
12 September 13 September
Archival inkjet print, 11 x 14″
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Purchase in the Light Work shop

Sharon Harper’s work explores technology and perception. She uses photography and video experimentally to create poetic connections between ourselves and the environment. Permanent collections that hold Harper’s work include the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, Denver Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art/New York City, Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, The New York Public Library, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, the Meredith S. Moody Residency Fellowship and the Elizabeth Ames Residency Fellowship at Yaddo, and the Sam and Dusty Boynton Residency Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center. 



Meryl Meisler

Reclining in tree by Goddard Riverside Community Center NY, NY, June 1978
Archival inkjet print, 8 x 8″ on 11 x 14″ paper
Edition of 50, signed and numbered by the artist

Purchase in the Light Work shop

Meryl Meisler was born 1951 in the Bronx and grew up on Long Island, NY. Meisler frequented and photographed the legendary New York City discos. A 1978 CETA Artist Grant supported her portfolio on Jewish identity. Upon retiring from 31 years as a New York City public school art teacher, she began releasing previously unseen work, including her books, A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick (Bizarre, 2014), Purgatory & Paradise: SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City (Bizarre, 2015) and New York PARADISE LOST: Bushwick Era Disco (forthcoming 2021). Meisler has received support from Artists Space, CETA, China Institute, Japan Society, LMCC, Leonian Foundation, Light Work, NYFA, Puffin Foundation, VCCA, and Yaddo. She has exhibited at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Museum, Dia Art Foundation, MASS MoCA, New Museum, New York Historical Society, and Whitney Museum. Collections that hold her work include AT&T, American Jewish Congress, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Brooklyn Historical Society, Columbia University, Emory University, Islip Art Museum, Library of Congress, Pfizer, and Reuters. Meisler lives in New York City and Woodstock, NY. ClampArt represents her work.



2021 Book Collectors Offer
Dairy Character (SIGNED)
Odette England

Odette England, Dairy Character
Saint Lucy 2021
188 Pages 
First Edition | Signed by the artist

Purchase Book in the Light Work shop

Dairy Character is a loose chronicle of England’s experience growing up on a rural dairy farm in southern Australia. Combining recent photographs, family snapshots, archival images, and autobiographical short stories, England examines the male-dominated farming community where she was raised and the gender-based repression that rural women and girls experience. Her images and texts evoke a girl introduced to reproductive labor at an early age. A girl who wanted a pink room. A girl fenced in by interconnecting forms of vulnerability. A girl who had a cow named after her. Odette England is the recipient of the 2021 Light Work Photobook Award.



Contact Sheet Subscription
5 Printed Issues Per Year


2022 Subscriptions include issues 210-214. Product image for illustration purposes only
.

Contact Sheet is where lovers of photography, from museum professionals to avid amateurs to collectors, turn to see the latest work by important emerging and mid-career artists from around the world. Contact Sheet is designed and printed in the tradition of fine art photography monographs and is completely commercial free. Many important photographers have been included in the early stages of their careers, including Cindy Sherman, Andres Serrano, Carrie Mae Weems, Suzanne Opton, Hank Willis Thomas, Lisa M. Robinson, and more.

A one-year subscription to Contact Sheet includes five issues. Four of the issues are single-artist catalogues featuring work that is exhibited in our main gallery. The fifth issue is The Light Work Annual, which features imagery by artists invited to participate in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program. The Light Work Annual is our biggest issue of the year, both in number of pages and the exposure it gives to our emerging artists.




Jeffrey Hoone retires after leading Light Work for 41 years

Over the past year there had been several significant leadership changes at Light Work. In January 2021 director Shane Lavalette left to start Assembly, a commercial venture, that supports artists through exhibitions, commissions, and publications. At that time, lab manager Dan Boardman was promoted to acting director, and after a national search, he was hired as Director in July 2021. When that transition was complete, executive director Jeffrey Hoone retired after 41 years in a leadership position at Light Work.

Boardman brings a wealth of experience and expertise to Light Work. An accomplished working artist, he was a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow in 2013, and has exhibited his work widely, including at The Bakalar & Paine Galleries (Boston), Harvard University, and The Mills Gallery at The Boston Center for the Arts. Boardman was a Light Work artist-in-residence and also Light Work’s lab manager for several years. He and his wife, Coco, also a photographer, live outside Syracuse with their young son, Henry.

“Dan is the perfect pick to lead Light Work into the future,” says Jeff Hoone. “He understands the organization from an artists’ perspective and how to run a hands-on operation. His entrepreneurial instincts are excellent. He grasps the big picture goals of supporting emerging and underrecognized artists. I had the pleasure to mentor Dan as he stepped into this job―Light Work is fortunate to have such a competent, committed, and compassionate leader. I look forward to seeing how he builds on Light Work’s strong foundation.”

“Jeff Hoone’s impact on the field of photography is significant and far-reaching,” says Boardman. “His accomplishments measure beyond the scope of this statement, and will endure for decades to come.”

Jeffrey Hoone became assistant director of Light Work in 1980 and over the next two years worked with both founding co-directors, Phil Block and Tom Bryan, during a period of reorganization. Bryan left to become a full-time sheep farmer and Block moved to the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City. In 1982, Hoone became director and Light Work’s only full-time employee.

Jeffrey Hoone pictured with a photograph of Light Work co-founders Phil Block and Tom Bryan

Over the next four years, Hoone and his work-study students expanded the artist-in-residence program to nearly 12 artists a year, making it Light Work’s signature program and defining the core mission to support artists in making new work. Emerging artists such as Dawoud Bey, Bill Burke, James Casebere, Barbara Ess, Melissa Shook, and Joel Sternfeld participated in these early years.

“My Light Work residency was the first I had ever done,” says Dawoud Bey. “The impact of that one month was considerable, leading to my inclusion in a major museum exhibition through the publication of my work in Contact Sheet. Light Work has provided immeasurable and constant support to those of us working in photography for decades now and Jeff Hoone has achieved a singular thing in building that organization.”

There are pivotal events for many organizations that help propel them forward. For Light Work it was being introduced to Robert B. Menschel. In the mid-80s, Hoone invited Mr. Menschel to meet in person and learn more about Light Work. Menschel was an alumnus and trustee of Syracuse University, a successful financier, and a photography collector. From that pivotal meeting came Menschel’s promise of a grant from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation so that Light Work could hire an assistant director. Menschel’s continued annual support has anchored Light Work’s financial success and stability.

There would never have been a Light Work without Jeff’s commitment and dedication,” says Menschel now. “His leadership created and sustained the longest-running photography publication. He will be sorely missed.

Under Hoone’s leadership Light Work completed a major $3.5 million renovation if its facility in 2001 and renamed the complex the Robert B. Menschel Media Center in gratitude for his generosity. Menschel also convinced noted architect Richard Meier to contribute design elements to the Center and was instrumental in artist and SU alum Sol LeWitt’s donation of a wall drawing for the building’s entrance. Hoone worked closely with Syracuse architect and SU alum Mike Wolniak to create an award-winning and highly functional creative space for artists.

In 2012, several years after completing the renovation of the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, Hoone personally established an endowment for the new main Gallery in the facility and named it after his mother Kathleen O. Ellis. The Ellis Gallery remains Light Work’s premiere Gallery and every exhibition is accompanied by an issue of Contact Sheet.

Kathleen O. Ellis seated front row at Light Work during reception and artist talk with 2018 exhibiting artist Keisha Scarville.

During his time in a leadership position at Light Work Hoone has kept the needs of artists front and center in Light Work’s priorities. Like many alternative arts organizations, Light Work began from an activist position to address inequities in how established institutions served artists as well as other larger social concerns of equity and inclusion. A priority during Hoone’s tenure has been Light Work’s commitment to diverse approaches to the medium and to welcome artists from all backgrounds, beliefs, and sexual orientations.

Hoone also expanded Light Work’s Contact Sheet from a small broadsheet to the full-color publication that today goes to more than 2,000 subscribers, institutions, artists, and art professionals in every state and 41 other countries. Contact Sheet receives support from Light Work’s subscription and fine print program and an enviable roster of support from national foundations, government agencies, and Syracuse University.

Since the 1970s, Light Work has asked visiting artists to contribute work made during their residency. . After many years these contributions had grown into an impressive collection and Hoone directed a decades-long process of cataloguing and storing the collection in order to meet industry standards. Over these decades, Light Work pioneered the creation of a searchable public image database that now holds more than 4,000 photographs and objects in the collection on the Light Work website. Light Work supported many artists early in their careers who have gone on to become important contributors to contemporary art. These include Andres Serrano, Fazal Sheikh, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and James Welling, among many others.

Under Hoone’s leadership Light Work has been honored for its excellence and received top grants for many years from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and several national foundations. He also helped to establish four endowment funds at Light Work totaling close to three-million dollars. These funds will provide stability for the organization as it moves into the future, and is a luxury that few small artist-run organizations can claim.

Hoone always had an eye on the big picture and when Nancy Cantor became chancellor of Syracuse University in 2004 Hoone worked with her to form the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC) and became its first executive director. CMAC brought together the art centers and museums on campus and in the local community in collaboration to expand public awareness, understanding, appreciation, and involvement in the visual and electronic arts. At that time, Hoone became executive director of Light Work and Hannah Frieser joined the staff as director to handle day-to-day operations.

As CMAC’s executive director, Hoone created the University’s first official art museum by combining the University Art Collection with the Lowe Art Gallery to form the SUArt Galleries. Last year the trustees approved renaming SUArt as the Syracuse University Art Museum and museum accreditation is underway. Hoone led the search committee that hired Vanja Malloy as the new director and chief curator of the Museum.

Jeffrey Hoone on his 65th birthday in 2020. Photo by Carrie Mae Weems

Hoone had a great vision for the potential of the arts and turned a fledgling video program at the Connective Corridor into the Urban Video Project (UVP), an internationally acclaimed electronic public art project. Anneka Herre directs the UVP, which projects videos on the Everson Museum’s north façade. He also helped create a permanent home at the Cantor Warehouse for the Photography and Literacy (PAL) project started by the late Stephen Mahan, which teaches literacy skills to school children through photography. Located downtown, the Cantor Warehouse also currently houses CMAC’s Point of Contact Gallery along with other community art spaces.

Light Work is now preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023 and Hoone anticipates spending time working with the Light Work staff on developing programs, events, and publications to celebrate that occasion. After 20 years on the board, Hoone also now serves as president of the foundation, Joy of Giving Something (JGS), which provides support to Light Work, UVP, the PAL project, and other photography organizations across the country to support emerging and under-recognized artists.

A working artist for much of his life, Hoone has exhibited his work extensively, served on peer review panels for the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and received a photography fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Hoone lives in Syracuse with his wife of 26 years, Carrie Mae Weems, who came to Light Work as a visiting artist in 1988. He will continue to work with her on the organization of her studio and as a board member of her non-profit organization, Social Studies 101.

In the end, Light Work’s most tremendous impact is on the artists,” says associate director Mary Lee Hodgens. “They always tell us what a pivotal time this was. We were just at the Armory show in New York City and several former AIRs came up to us. One had tears in their eyes and said, ’I was ready to give up when my residency came through.’

Header image credit: Colin Davy, courtesy of The Daily Orange

Announcing 2022 Light Work Artists-in-Residence

With great excitement, Light Work announces the following 2022 Artists-in-Residence: Mónica Alcázar-Duarte (United Kingdom), Nando Alvarez-Perez (Buffalo, New York), Simon Benjamin (Brooklyn, New York), Gary Burnley (Ridgefield, Connecticut), William Camargo (Chicago, Illinois), Jasmine Clarke (Brooklyn, New York), Paula Damasceno (Greensboro, North Carolina), Mercedes Dorame (Burbank, California), Dylan Hausthor (Peaks Island, Maine), Musuk Nolte (Lima, Peru), Elle Perez (Brooklyn, New York), Nona Faustine Simmons (Brooklyn, New York), and Claire A. Warden (Phoenix, Arizona). 

Each year, Light Work supports emerging, under-represented, and previously excluded artists working in photography and related media with support totaling more than $60,000. In addition to receiving an unrestricted stipend of $5,000, each artist has access to our technical and professional resources and facilities.

“It’s my great pleasure to congratulate the 2022 Light Work Artist-in-Residence recipients,” said Light Work director Dan Boardman. “I know I speak for the entire staff when I say we are thrilled to have artists working in our space throughout 2022. This year’s cohort exemplifies the wide range of approaches making up contemporary photographic practice, and we are looking forward to providing space and time to each of these practitioners.”

This year, Light Work has two exciting collaborations with distinguished organizations in support of three of our artists. Autograph in London, UK, has sponsored the residency of Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, the latest in a partnership that dates from 1996. Additionally, the Darryl Chappell Foundation has sponsored the residencies of Jasmine Clarke and Gary Burnley. The first year of Light Work’s partnership with the Darryl Chappell Foundation advances our shared mission to foster an appreciation of the fine arts among members of the African Diaspora through grants and to deepen an appreciation of the fine arts in the larger community. 

Light Work’s highly competitive residency program dates from 1976 and now receives nearly 1,000 submissions annually. Following an international call for submissions, we select twelve to fifteen artists and invite them to come to Syracuse for one month to pursue creative projects. To date, more than 500 artists have participated in the Light Work Artist-in-Residence Program and many have gone on to achieve international acclaim. The artists who receive this distinction embody Light Work’s mission of providing direct artist support to emerging, under-represented, and previously excluded artists working in photography and digital imaging.

We are pleased to announce the 2022 Light Work Artists-in-Residence!

Mónica Alcázar-Duarte (United Kingdom)

Nando Alvarez-Perez (Buffalo, New York)

Simon Benjamin (Brooklyn, New York)

Gary Burnely (Ridgefield, Connecticut)

William Camargo (Chicago, Illinois)

Jasmine Clarke (Brooklyn, New York)

Paula Damasceno (Greensboro, North Carolina)

Mercedes Dorame (Burbank, California)

Dylan Hausthor (Peaks Island, Maine)

Musuk Nolte (Lima, Peru)

Elle Perez (Brooklyn, New York)

Nona Faustine Simmons (Brooklyn, New York)

Claire A. Warden (Phoenix, Arizona)

See past Artists-in-Residence at www.lightwork.org/air
Applications are now open for 2023. Apply at lightwork.slideroom.com