Visitors to Light Work’s website can now explore thousands of photographic works and objects from our permanent Collection in a new online database that expands access to work by former Light Work artists, students, researchers, and online visitors. Optimized for speed, image quality, and overall user experience, this new website will enable visitors to learn more about the Light Work Collection and the history of the organization.
Already an early-adopter of digital technology in the 1980s, Light Work made the Collection fully accessible online in the early 1990s. The new site has been in preparation for over two years, builds on the information available in the previous format, and introduces new search features. This project was made possible with support from David Broda at Syracuse University’s Photo and Imaging Center, The Gifford Foundation, Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS), The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), The Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, and Light Work staff, led by Jeffrey Hoone, Shane Lavalette, Mary Lee Hodgens, and Victor Rivera.
The funding and support is a testament to the archive’s importance and the quality of the work done to make it more accessible to the public. The material in the Light Work Collection has significant research value, and thanks to the redesign of the online platform, these resources will be more widely available to educators, artists, critics, curators, and the arts community. The new participatory approach allows both the online visiting public and internal staff members to locate a desired image, object, or information in the archive more efficiently and accurately.
“The Collection is one of our greatest assets—people, I think, will be thrilled by it. It’s not only beautiful looking, but it’s an incredible resource for artists, curators, educators, and students of photography,” says Mary Lee Hodgens, Light Work’s Associate Director. “They will have the whole Collection at their fingertips.”
The Collection documents Light Work’s history of support for artists and their creative process. In 1979, early participants in our Artist-in-Residence Program began informally donating photographs to Light Work, which accumulated into a small collection. Light Work soon began to invite each artist to contribute work while in Syracuse to establish a permanent collection. The Collection now primarily comprises work made by artists who have participated in the residency and exhibitions as well as Light Work Grant recipients. The Collection represents Light Work’s 45-year legacy of supporting emerging and under-represented artists and boasts an extensive, diverse archive that maps the trends and developments in contemporary photography. Light Work’s Collection database currently contains more than 4,000 items, all of it original work, including color and black-and-white photographic prints, alternative processes, collages, installation pieces, artist books, portfolios, and publications. Exceptional in scope, the Collection covers all genres from documentary to abstract to experimental to conceptual work.
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 represented by top gallerists. The Collection has grown over the past four decades due to the generosity of former artists-in-residence and individual donors. The Collection includes many works of major importance from artists such as Dawoud Bey, Zanele Muholi, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems, William Wegman, and James Welling.
Explore the richness and diversity of works across the photographic medium. Have questions or need additional support, our collection management staff can provide useful background information and offer guidance in selecting images that best supplement class curriculum or research topics.