Artists On The Light Work Experience: Suzanne Opton

In honor of our 40th Anniversary, Light Work asked previous Artists-in-Residence for their thoughts on their Light Work experience. We started with a small group, a few of the artists selected for our current exhibition 40 Artists / 40 Years: Selections from the Light Work Collection. Each week, these statements will bring you a new perspective on Syracuse, Light Work, and the active space we create for our visiting artists.

The second piece of this multi-part blog installment features photographic artist, and previous Artist-In-Residence, Suzanne Opton.

How did your residency experience at Light Work influence your work? What progress did you make while here?

When I came to Light Work I was in the middle of making my “Soldier” photographs at nearby Fort Drum. I hadn’t decided how to present the images and I was a complete Photoshop novice. [Master Printer] John Mannion patiently walked me through the process and helped me define and produce the color palette I was looking for.

How did your residency experience at Light Work influence your career? What came next?

The Contact Sheet put me on the map. I had many requests and opportunities as a result of the extensive Light Work mailing list. Thereafter I exhibited the work in New York, Germany, Switzerland, etc. Despite the political nature of the images, they were widely collected by museums and private collectors.

Light Work presented the first of the Soldier billboards in Syracuse and thereafter, in partnership with Susan Reynolds and with NYFA fiscal sponsorship, I presented billboards in eight American cities. When the billboards were censored by CBS Outdoor at the Republican convention, the story was prominent in the NY Times and picked up in media around the world.

Suzanne Opton’s work has been exhibited internationally, and is featured in the permanent collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris; the Musée de’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. She has received grants from the Vermont Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Orion, The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and Fortune.

Opton teaches at the International Center of Photography and the Cooper Union. She participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in September 2005.

Find a a signed monograph by Suzanne Opton for sale in the Light Work Shop.

Stay tuned for next week’s feature, with Jim Stone.

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