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Light Work Podcast

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The podcast from Light Work, a non-profit photography organization in Syracuse, New York — Support this podcast by treating yourself or a loved one to something at

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30 Episodes
Clifford Prince King is a self-taught queer Black photographer from Arizona. The images in this exhibition focus on King’s life in Los Angeles. In his work, King’s lifestyle and experiences are starting points to explore desire, intimacy, and day-to-day life with HIV. King’s images chronicle himself and others located in lamp-lit domestic settings. We see a brotherhood of men enacting moments of domestic bliss, nude bodies in the moments before or after a sexual encounter, and the side effects and routine of living with HIV. After King’s diagnosis, he focused anew on understanding the legacy of the AIDS crisis and the artists who responded to it. He took refuge in the words and images of those who once shared an experience like his own, and his work evokes that history while developing a language all his own. In talking about his practice, King returns time and again to the life-affirming aspects of his relationships. In We Used to Lay Together, King has compiled a body of work that explores affection in all its varieties―the simple parts of intimacy, often overlooked but—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Backed Vibes Clean" by Kevin MacLeod See for privacy and opt-out information.
Meryl Meisler: The Best of Times, Worst of TimesMarch 22 - July 23, 2021Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryIn Light Work’s early days, during the 1970s and 80s, many artists arrived for their month-long residency with no specific plans for using their time. With only a camera and a vague idea of exploring, they walked the streets of Syracuse, open to the synchronicity of what might happen. Incredible photographs ensued and the artists often called them gifts. Grateful to land in the right place at the right time, they discovered images on their contact sheets that startled and delighted them. But they also saw photography as more than random luck. It was both a collaboration and a conversation. They saw themselves as witnesses.Over the same decades, Meryl Meisler was photographing her life in and around New York City with the same sense of exploration and possibility as those pioneering Light Work AIRs. Retiring from decades as a public-school art teacher, Meisler began to unearth and rethink her own archive. Part time capsule of the 70s and 80s and part memoir, Best of Time, Worst of Times is an invitation to join her for a wild ride—disco nights, punk bars, strip clubs, Fire Island, family, friends and neighbors, and suburban Long Island. Her exuberant celebration of human connection is particularly poignant now, when we can take none of these gatherings for granted. Meisler clearly celebrates with her subjects. These are her people: she is not an outsider but a participant. She depicts our own shared humanity, humor, and joy.“I want to show you who I am,” she says now. “My identity as a woman, Jew, lesbian, middle- class teacher, Baby Boomer, New Yorker, liberal, American—and so much more—influences how I perceive and create art about the world around me. I’ve only just begun revealing my huge photography archive. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come!—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight See for privacy and opt-out information.
Aaron Turner: Black Alchemy, Backwards/ForwardsJanuary 25 – March 4, 2021Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryLight Work will exhibit more than 20 works by Arkansas–based photographer Aaron Turner in its first main gallery show of 2021. Aaron Turner: Black Alchemy, Backwards/Forwards will be on view in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery. In the solitude of the studio, the artist is never alone. Quite the contrary for Aaron Turner. Sidney Poitier, Martin Luther King, Marvin Gay, Frederick Douglas and others all move up and through the layers of cut paper and projections. The artist handles, arranges, touches both objects and beloved figures, seeking, listening, directing, and responding. Some of these juxtapositions seem random, fluid, almost falling through space, but this is precisely the process Turner invites us to witness.Aaron Turner’s Arkansas delta community and family taught him to know and understand African American history, honor its heroes, and respect his elders. The simple and profound gift of this upbringing has allowed him to pursue the role of Black artist and activist in our culture with unapologetic, single-minded intensity. Turner is in many ways acknowledging, standing on, and building from this foundation in his work. With deep affinity for the formal qualities of black-and-white photography, Aaron Turner uses his large format camera and the alchemical darkroom process to move back and forth between abstraction, still life, collage, and appropriated archival images to literally take apart and then reconstruct his photographic images. The color black itself has a presence in this work—infinite, elegant, unknowable. Turner is also a painter; his use of large swaths of black is both a metaphor for race and related to abstraction and its emphasis on process, materials, and color itself as subject.—Besides his studio practice, Aaron Turner is a teacher, curator, writer, founder of the Center for Photographers of Color (CPoC) at the University of Arkansas, and host of the CPoC podcast. Active in the photo and contemporary art community, he often uses these platforms to discuss his primary muses: other Black artists and activists. Bring a pen and notebook, because Turner is a name dropper in the best sense and you will want to look up these painters, sculptors, photographers, athletes, and activists whom he reveres, some hallowed and some obscure (for now). His generosity reminds us of artists like Deborah Willis, Carrie Mae Weems, and Zanele Muholi, who all—understanding art and power—have made it their business to bring a community of artists along with them through the doorway and into the spotlight. He too arrives en masse: perhaps his greatest tribute to his elders in the Arkansas—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight See for privacy and opt-out information.
Alinka Echeverría: HeroineOctober 26 – December 10, 2020Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryWith great pleasure, Light Work presents Heroine, a solo exhibition of work by Mexican-British multimedia artist and visual anthropologist Alinka Echeverría. Heroine is the culmination of the artist’s extensive research into the representation of women and femininity since the origins of the medium of photography. “With few exceptions, the place of women was before the lens, not behind it,” she acknowledges. As Echeverría immersed herself in the colonial archives of the Nicéphore Nièpce Museum in France, work she embarked on in 2015, the aesthetics of the fetishized and exoticized depiction of women both intrigued and appalled her. Directly referencing the “inventor of photography,” Nicéphore Niépce, Echeverría titles this work more broadly as Fieldnotes for Nicéphora (incorporating the “a” at the end to feminize the name that he had adopted for its meaning: victorious)—thereby explicitly reframing the legacy of this white, male pioneer of photography to a feminist and postcolonial perspective.We are mindful of installing the exhibition amidst an ongoing global pandemic, as we all work to reimagine how physical gallery spaces exist (or don’t) and perhaps expand how works on walls may take on new forms. With that in mind, Echeverría has opened up the ways in which she would normally exhibit photographic work in a gallery. She revisits past collage work innovatively, re-adapting stills from a video piece as large-scale photographic prints and pages from a photobook project, brought to life here as a continuous stream of images wrapping around three of the gallery walls.Echeverría reframes the photographs to examine how she can alter their purpose both through their context and materiality. “As a link between the past and the present, the photographic archive makes time resurface by way of stored visual forms,” Echeverría explains. “In my view, an active reframing allows them to acquire a certain contemporaneity with the new interpretations brought by our contemporary gazes as practitioners and viewers.” Echeverría’s works in Heroine are both visually arresting and profoundly thoughtful—urging viewers to investigate the complexities of the photographic object itself as well as the ways in which its creation, reproduction, and distribution has been problematic since the early 1800s.—Alinka Echeverría is a Mexican-British artist and visual anthropologist working in multiple media. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, 2004 (Erasmus exchange, Università di Bologna, 2003). After working on HIV prevention projects in rural East Africa, she completed a post-graduate degree in Photography from the International Center for Photography in New York in 2008. She has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at Arles’ Les Rencontres de la Photographie, The California Museum of Photography, Johannesburg Art Gallery, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and Preus Museum (Norway’s National Museum of Photography). She is the recipient of the 2020 MAST Foundation for Photography Grant and in recent years she has received the BMW Art & Culture Residency at the Nicéphore Niépce Museum, as well as FOAM Museum’s Talent award, and the HSBC Prize for Photography. The Lucie Awards voted her International Photographer of the Year and she was a finalist for the Musée de l’Elysée’s Prix Elysée for mid-career artists. Several public collections and institutions hold her work, including BMW Art & Culture France, FOAM Museum, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, LACMA, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée de l’Elysée, Musée Nicéphore Niépce, and the Swiss Foundation of Photography. In 2017 she was the presenter for a three-part series for BBC Four called The Art That Made Mexico.—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Adrift" and "Resonance" by Airtone See for privacy and opt-out information.
August 24 - October 15, 2020Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryOnline Artist Conversation: Friday, September 25, 5pmLight Work presents Queens-based artist Matthew Connors’ General Assembly. This exhibition comprises 650 portraits that span the first year of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in New York City. An expansive project that pairs individual black and white portraits within a tightly formatted grid, General Assembly borrows its title from the movement’s term for its horizontal decision-making process. Connors made these black-and-white portraits in the charged atmosphere of Zuccotti Park, elsewhere in New York City at direct actions and during more contemplative moments before and after working group meetings.We encourage you to visit Light Work exhibitions online and to check out our catalog of artist videos, including an interview with exhibiting artist Matthew Connors.When Connors first arrived at Zuccotti Park in September of 2011, he had no intention of making photographs. He first gravitated to the congregation of protesters who occupied Manhattan’s Financial District out of simple curiosity. But as he observed Occupy Wall Street’s “wellspring of generative social organization,” he wondered how photography could contribute to the historical moment before him. Disturbed by the way that passersby were photographing protesters at a distance, he immersed himself in the activity of the movement and sought to use his camera as a tool of engagement.The process of creating the portraits involved lengthy conversations with the participants about their motivations and involvement in the movement. Building on these newly formed relationships, he regularly returned to demonstrations to photograph and offer each person he photographed a print of their portrait. For Connors, this ongoing exchange of images and ideas contributed to the “relational fabric” that Occupy was cultivating. In many of these portraits, the person gazes directly into the camera at the artist—and us—a rare and brave moment of trust and connection. A native New Yorker, Connors had begun to feel that his home was becoming a “city of strangers” pulled apart by gentrification’s economic power and frequent disruption. By distributing political power and reaching decisions more equitably, Occupy Wall Street sought to reestablish that community.—Matthew Connors received a BA in English Literature from the University of Chicago and an MFA in Photography from Yale University. He has exhibited his work in galleries and museums worldwide, including DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York. His awards include the Alice Kimball English Travelling Fellowship from the Yale School of Art (2004), the MacDowell Colony Fellowship (2010), the Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship (2011), and the William Hicks Faculty Fellowship from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design (2012 and 2008). Since 2004 he has taught at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston, where he chairs the Photography Department. He lives and works in Boston, MA, and Brooklyn,—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight See for privacy and opt-out information.
March 23 – July 23, 2020Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, March 26, 6pmReception: Thursday, March 26, 5-7pmPacifico Silano’s The Eyelid Has Its Storms… borrows its title from a Frank O’Hara poem. O’Hara’s musings and observations about everyday queer life inspired Silano’s artistic practice. “The eyelid has its storms,” the poem begins. “There is the opaque fish-scale green of it after swimming in the sea and then suddenly wrenching violence, strangled lashed, and a barbed wire of sand falls onto the shore.” O’Hara’s deeply visual poem, like Silano’s work, evokes duality—in memory, in the present, and future, shimmering beauty and umbral violence often occur at once.Through the appropriation of photographs from vintage gay pornography magazines, Silano creates colorful collages that explore print culture and the histories of the LGBTQ+ community. His large-scale works evoke strength and sexuality while acknowledging the underlying repression and trauma that marginalized individuals experience. Born at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Silano lost his uncle due to complications from HIV. “After he died,” says Silano, “his memory was erased by my family due to the shame of his sexuality and the stigma of HIV/AIDS around that time period.” Silano set out to create art that reconciled that loss and erasure. Silano’s exhibition somberly contemplates such pain and photography’s role in the struggle for queer visibility, while celebrating enduring love, compassion, and community.In collaging, Silano decisively fragments, obscures, and layers images that he has rephotographed from these magazines. He reassembles and ultimately recontextualizes these images, removing the overtly explicit original content. “These new pictures-within-pictures are silent witnesses that allude to absence and presence,” says Silano. He sees them as stand-in memorials, both for the now-missing models as well as those who originally consumed their images. Silano meditates on the meaning of the images and tearsheets that he collects over time. What continually excites him is precisely the “slipperiness” of representation and meaning in photography as our culture shifts. “The lens that we read [images] through today gives them new context and meaning,” he observes. “In another 30 or 40 years, they might very well mean something completely different.”—Pacifico Silano is a lens-based artist born in Brooklyn. He has an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts. His group shows include the Bronx Museum, Museo Universitario del Chopo in Mexico City, Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, and Tacoma Art Museum. His solo shows include Baxter ST@CCNY, The Bronx Museum, Fragment Gallery in Moscow, Rubber-Factory, and Stellar Projects. Aperture, Artforum, and The New Yorker have reviewed his work. Silano’s awards include the Aaron Siskind Foundation’s Individual Photographer’s Fellowship, Finalist for the Aperture Foundation Portfolio Prize, and First Prize at Amsterdam’s Pride Photo Awards. His work is in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Silano participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Dawn Line Approaching" by Blue Dot SessionsMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
November 4 – December 12, 2019Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, November 14, 6pmReception: Thursday, November 14, 5-7pmWendy Red Star makes art that arises from her Native American cultural heritage and family history, as well as her expansive interest in photography, video, sound, sculpture, fiber arts, and performance. Red Star’s artistic practice involves ongoing research into historical archives and narratives, which she thoughtfully deconstructs to explore the intersections of Native American ideologies and colonialism’s unsettling effects on past and present.Red Star grew up on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana. Her exhibition title, Baaeétitchish (One Who Is Talented), references the Crow name she received while visiting home this past summer. It was the original name of her grand-uncle, Clive Francis Dust, Sr., known in the family for his creativity as a cultural keeper. Clearly, Red Star carries that same spirit as an artist. “By carving out space in the contemporary art world,” says Red Star, “I hope it will make it easier for the next generation of Native women artists to gain access to institutions and opportunities.” Red Star’s powerful exhibition at Light Work brings together four photography-based projects produced between 2006 and 2016.Through her work, Red Star says she seeks to complete the missing pieces of the puzzle of her people’s history—a history that colonialism has unfortunately interrupted. “The stories have been scattered,” she says. Important for her Crow community, this re-gathering also helps to tell a more accurate story of—Wendy Red Star holds a BFA from Montana State University, Bozeman, and an MFA in sculpture from University of California, Los Angeles. She has exhibited in the United States and abroad at sites that include Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Fondation Cartier pour l’ Art Contemporain, Hood Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Portland Art Museum, and St. Louis Art Museum. She has been a visiting lecturer at the Banff Centre, CalArts, Dartmouth College, Figge Art Museum, Flagler College, the I.D.E.A. Space in Colorado Springs, National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and Yale University. In 2017, Red Star received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and in 2018 she received a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. Red Star lives and works in Portland, OR.—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Crem Valle" by Blue Dot SessionsMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
August 26 – October 17, 2019Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryArtist Talk & Panel: Friday, October 11, 6pmReception: Friday, October 11, 5-7pmSince 2010, the Italian photographer Nicola Lo Calzo has traversed Atlantic coastal areas to research buried memories of the African Diaspora. His latest project, Bundles of Wood documents the rich local history of the Underground Railroad in Central New York.Lo Calzo was born in Torino, Italy, in 1979 and now lives and works in Paris, West Africa, and the Caribbean. For seven years he has engaged in a photographic project about the memories of the slave trade. This ambitious, still ongoing project includes documentation of the descendants of the African diaspora in America, Cuba, Haiti, Suriname, the Caribbean, and West Africa. In his artist’s statement, Lo Calzo asks,“How is it possible that the world organized the social, political, and moral consensus around the slave trade for four centuries, and how is it possible to erase this tragedy from the collective memory of Western countries and even from textbooks? Have the memories of slavery, discarded by history, survived to this day and, if so, in what forms and in what places? How do these memories, repressed by some and preserved by others, define our everyday relationships, our perception, and the place of everyone in society?”In September 2017, Lo Calzo participated in a month-long residency at Light Work, during which he researched and documented Central New York’s own rich history of the Underground Railroad. Bundles of Wood is the resulting photo essay, tracing a clandestine network active up to the American Civil War. In Lo Calzo’s photographs, echoes of slavery linger and reverberate across the centuries. Slaves and “conductors” on the Underground Railroad used the phrase “bundles of wood” as a secret code to communicate “incoming fugitives were expected.”—Nicola Lo Calzo has exhibited his photographs widely in museums, art centers, and festivals, most notably the Afriques Capitales in Lille, the Macaal in Marakesh, the Musee des Confluences in Lyon, the National Alinari Museum of Photography in Florence, and Tropen Museum in Amsterdam. Many public and private collections hold his work, such as the Alinari Archives in Florence, the National Library of France in Paris, and Pinacoteca Civica in Monza Tropen Museum in Amsterdam. Kehrer has published three of Lo Calzo’s books: Regla (2017), Obia (2015), and Inside Niger (2012). He is also a contributor to the international press, including Internazionale, Le Monde, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2018 Lo Calzo received the Cnap Grant and a nomination for the Prix Elysee 2019-2020.Nicola Lo Calzo: Bundles of Wood is funded in part by the Syracuse Symposium, an annual public events series, exploring the humanities through lectures, workshops, performances, exhibits, films, readings, and more. The year’s programming engages the meaning and impact of “Silence” from diverse perspectives and genres across a range of locations, locally and globally.—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Order of Entrance" by Blue Dot SessionsMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
March 18 – July 27, 2019Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Friday, March 22, 6pmReception: Friday, March 22, 5-7pmLight Work is pleased to present Robert Benjamin’s River Walking, a solo exhibition of photographs and poems spanning four decades. A self-taught photographer and poet, Benjamin’s work, often centered around his family, offers a simple and honest consideration of what it means to live and to love with intention. “I think you have to love your life, and you have to have the courage to find the world beautiful,” says Benjamin. Enchanted by color and the beauty of photography itself, Benjamin uncovers poetry in the everyday.Benjamin never wanted a career in photography. He simply felt that he needed to make pictures. According to Benjamin, one of the great joys of being a photographer is working with cameras. He appreciates the elegance of mechanical objects deeply—their feel, their smell, their sound. Cameras are “exquisite little machines”—like typewriters, he says. Benjamin has been writing poems on his Smith-Corona Clipper longer than he’s made photographs. His poems echo the sensitivity and humble directness of his photographs. More recently, Benjamin has begun pairing what he aptly calls “small photographs” with “small poems,” a selection of which are included in this exhibition.It’s often a mystery why a picture captivates us. A long-time friend, the widely-admired photographer Robert Adams, has written about Benjamin’s portrait of his son, Walker, in his recent book, Art Can Help. The photograph possesses everything that embodies Benjamin’s work—a convergence of time, poetry, color, love, and mystery. Adams writes, “In the distance, the rain is coming our way and the light is about to change. There is, just now, no place on earth exactly like this one.”—Robert Benjamin grew up in Northern Illinois around suburbs, cornfields, lakes, and the remaining prairies. After a brief encounter with college, he traveled—criss-crossing America, eventually to Paris, finally settling in New York City. There, he decided that photography was what he wanted to do. With the absence of any academic training or community he followed his own direction—creating a style and interest that continues to this day. His photos and poems grew intuitively, and draw on the experience of everyday life, far removed from the art world. In 2010, he agreed to a show of his work at the Denver Art Museum. In 2011, the museum and Radius Books published the book of this work, Notes from a Quiet Life. Benjamin continues to write and photograph. He and his family live in Colorado.—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "That feeling you give me." by bbatvMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
January 14 – March 1, 2019Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, January 31, 6pmReception: Thursday, January 31, 5-7pmLight Work is pleased to present American Type, a solo exhibition by artist Rodrigo—Rodrigo Valenzuela completed an art history degree at the University of Chile in 2004 and then worked in construction while making art over his first decade in the United States, receiving an MFA at the University of Washington in 2012. Using staged scenes and digital interventions, Valenzuela’s photography, video, and installation work are rooted in the contradictory traditions of documentary and fiction, often involving narratives on immigration and the working class. Valenzuela participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in August—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Upsurge" by Jonah DempsyMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
Keisha Scarville: Alma

Keisha Scarville: Alma


November 1 – December 13, 2018Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, November 1, 6pmReception: Thursday, November 1, 5-7pmKeisha Scarville’s primary theme is the relationship between transformation and the unknown. Grounded in photography, she works across media to explore place, absence, and subjectivity. After the death of her mother in 2015, Scarville deepened her use of photography as a way to explore how the loss of such an anchor point can affect one’s identity and sense of both absence and self in the world. Scarville’s new exhibition, titled Alma, presents a selection of photographs whose larger subject is transformation born of loss.She has worked on this project for more than three years and has approached it in several different ways that she describes as “chapters.” Initially the work was about body as medium and then, place-as-container, particularly Guyana, South America, Alma’s birthplace, and Crown Heights, Brooklyn, an enclave of Caribbean immigrants where Scarville grew up, which she continues to call home. Working with Alma’s richly patterned clothing and possessions, Scarville says she looks for ways to visually conjure her mother’s presence. “I am interested in how the absent body lives in the photograph and the materiality of absence. I am seeking invocation, something celebratory that rethinks absence as a threshold.”—Keisha Scarville has exhibited at Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, BRIC Arts Media House, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Lesley Heller Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Diasporan Arts, Rush Arts Gallery, and Studio Museum of Harlem. She has participated in artist residencies at Baxter Street CCNY, BRIC Workspace, Center for Photography at Woodstock, Light Work Artist-in-Residence Program, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Vermont Studio—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Time Passing" by David Hilowitz and "Difference" by Kai EngelMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
August 27 – October 18, 2018Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, September 20, 6pmReception: Thursday, September 20, 5-7pmLight Work is pleased to announce Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul: Selections from the Light Work Collection. The exhibition is guest-curated by For Freedoms, a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States, co-founded in 2016 by former Light Work artists-in-residence Eric Gottesman and Hank Willis Thomas. Since then, For Freedoms has produced exhibitions, town hall meetings, and public art to spur greater participation in civic life. On their motivations for starting For Freedoms, Gottesman states, “Our hope was to spark dialogue about our collective civic responsibility to push for freedom and justice today, as those before us pushed for freedom and justice in their time through peaceful protest and political participation.”Borrowing its title from the Charles Biasiny-Rivera piece of the same name, Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul features more than forty photographs from the Light Work Collection that explore topics of politics, social justice, identity, and visibility. These subjects have remained significant for Light Work and many of the artists we have supported over our forty-five year history. The list of artists includes: Laura Aguilar, George Awde, Karl Baden, Lois Barden and Harry Littell, Claire Beckett, Charles Biasing-Rivera, Samantha Box, Deborah Bright, Chan Chao, Renee Cox, Rose Marie Cromwell, Jen Davis, Jess Dugan, John Edmonds, Amy Elkins, Nereyda Garcia Ferraz, Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Antony Gleaton, Jim Goldberg, David Graham, Mahtab Hussain, Osamu James Nakagawa, Tommy Kha, Pipo Nguyen-Duy, Deana Lawson, Mary Mattingly, Jackie Nickerson, Shelley Niro, Suzanne Opton, Kristine Potter, Ernesto Pujol, Irina Rozovsky, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Kanako Sasaki, Pacifico Silano, Clarissa Sligh, Beuford Smith, Amy Stein, Mila Teshaieva, Brian Ulrich, Ted Wathen, Carrie Mae Weems, Carla Williams, Hank Willis Thomas, Pixy Yijun Liao.In addition to the selections of work on view at Light Work, we have collaborated with For Freedoms to display a series of billboards throughout the city of Syracuse created by internationally-renowned artists Zoe Buckman, Eric Gottesman, Carrie Mae Weems, Spider Martin, and Hank Willis Thomas. These billboards use photography and text to address social issues and our political climate. This exhibition and related programming coincides with The 50 State Initiative, an ambitious new phase of For Freedoms Fall 2018 programming, during the lead-up to the midterm elections. Building off of the existing artistic infrastructure in the United States, For Freedoms has developed a network of artists and institutional partners, including Light Work, who will produce nationwide public art installations, exhibitions, and local community dialogues in order to inject nuanced, artistic thinking into public discourse. Centered around the vital work of artists, these exhibitions, and related projects will model how arts institutions can become civic forums for—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Bald Eagle" and "American Crow" by Chad CrouchMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
March 20 – July 27, 2018Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, March 29, 6pmReception: Thursday, March 29, 5-7pmKarolina Karlic’s Rubberlands is an ongoing photographic survey that maps the social and ecological impacts of rubber manufacturing. Following the trajectory of the artist’s earlier work exploring the automobile industry in Michigan, Rubberlands proceeds from Midwest cities like Detroit and Akron, Ohio—once auto capitals of the world and now entry points for commodities through globalized networks. Connecting the company archives of Henry Ford, Goodyear, Goodrich, General Tire, and Firestone, Karlic traces the evolution of an industry that relies heavily on outsourcing of the Hevea brasiliensis (Amazonian rubber tree). Her photographic fieldwork in Brazil has taken her to manufacturing plants in Salvador and Itaparica, Michelin rubber plantations in the Atlantic forest, a fisherman’s village on the coastal rivers of Itubera in Bahia, and the vestiges of Fordlândia, Henry Ford’s planned community in the Amazon.Karlic reveals threatened landscapes, sites of reforestation, and working factories against the backdrop of their surrounding communities—scenes where living things are transformed into assets and removed from their lifeworlds to supply the demands of capital. By weaving together historical archives and contemporary renderings of environs that production has largely shaped, Karlic moves beyond capturing a static place and time, instead configuring a dynamic space for contemplating the inextricable social and personal bonds that surround labor and natural resources. Here, she invites the viewer into a new imaginary where historical consciousness is critical in reflecting on our relationship to—Karolina Karlic was born in Poland and immigrated to Detroit, Michigan in 1987. Karlic holds an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is an Assistant Professor in the Art Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she currently resides. Karlic’s work focuses in on industry, diaspora, environmental concerns, and the effects of social upheaval, and has led her to capture imagery all over the world, including the United States, her native Poland, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, French Polynesia, and Brazil. Karlic has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship as well as the Cultural Exchange International Fellowship of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Sacatar Foundation. Karlic participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in June—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Gears Spinning" by Podington BearMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
January 16 – March 2, 2018Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, February 1, 6pmReception: Thursday, February 1, 5-7pmLight Work is pleased to present Land of Epic Battles a solo exhibition of prints by Philadelphia-based artist Justyna Badach. Land of Epic Battles features Badach’s new series of large, hand-made dichromate prints, made using film stills from ISIS training videos. For a year she experimented with darkroom techniques before discovering a 19th-century process that would allow her to use gunpowder as a pigment. The resulting incendiary prints initially look like antiquated documentation of Middle Eastern sites and landscapes. The texture of the heavy-weight watercolor paper needed for this process adds a layer of abstraction more akin to the language of drawing and painting than photography. Rather than using images of carnage and gore, for which ISIS videos are infamous, Badach’s edit reveals a vast, enduring, and majestic landscape that dwarfs the players in the conflict and exposes the futility of war.Land of Epic Battles continues Badach’s ongoing interest in male culture and the machismo of Hollywood films and media. As a child, Badach emigrated from Poland and learned to speak English by watching American TV. Fascinated by the deeply coded American cinema, she later created Epic Film Stills, a project that explored how classic Westerns such as Wyatt Earp and Young Guns glorify the violence of American colonialism. In this series, Epic Film Stills, she focuses on the landscape, which echoes the romanticized version of Manifest Destiny and its violent ideology that she first recognized in American Westerns and which may, in turn, be the lens through which most Americans make sense of Middle Eastern terrorism. In describing this body of work Badach states:“My work examines the transmutation of history and repackaging of violence through appropriation and re-contextualization of images derived from films created for a male audience. Land of Epic Battles focuses on the hyper-masculine world of ISIS recruitment videos that have grown out of the social and cultural voids that mark this moment in time.”Besides armored vehicles, the black ISIS flag, artillery, and explosives, each ISIS cell includes a media-savvy creative, equipped with video camera, microphones, laptop, and Final Cut Pro, who carefully documents the destruction wrought by this cell and disseminates this material on encrypted websites and YouTube. Reality TV, DIY citizen-journalism, and video games (specifically Grand Theft Auto) have clearly inspired these works. ISIS videographers carefully edit the action with rousing music and linger in slow motion over point-blank gunshots, beheadings, and crucifixions. Voice-overs promise a life of respect, power, comradery, and victory for young men who have been brutally marginalized and stripped of—Justyna Badach’s family arrived as refugees in the United States in 1980. She currently resides in Philadelphia, where she is an artist, educator, and museum professional. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad and is in the permanent collections of Cranbrook Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Museet for Fotokunst Brandts, Odense, Denmark. Her artist book is in the Special Collection at the Rice University Library, Houston, TX, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA and Haverford College. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including; Queensland College of Art Griffith University in Brisbane, Art Wonderland Space in Copenhagen and the Temple of Hadrian in Rome to most notably in the US at the Corcoran Gallery, D.C., Portland Art Museum, James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA, and Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago among others. Badach participated in the residency program at Light Work in—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Sleepers" by Sergey CheremisinovMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
November 1 – December 14, 2017Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, November 30, 6pmReception: Thursday, November 30, 5-7pmIn his exhibition, Anonymous, John Edmonds combines two distinct series of portraits, both of which conceal the identities of their subjects. The first series comprises striking formal studies of individuals wearing hoods on the street, photographed from behind. We can quickly read this suite of images as a statement on the unjust death of Trayvon Martin and how individuals of color face issues of racism, safety, and injustice in systemic ways. “All the work that I make is from a very personal place,” says Edmonds of his process. “It starts with me.” Edmonds further embeds himself in this work by photographing his subjects wearing his own hoodies and jackets. With little visual clues to guide us, we may only learn from the artist that the obscured individuals in fact vary in race, gender, and age.In contrast to the charged public space that Edmonds considers with these pictures, a second series of portraits celebrates blackness and beauty through private and sensual pictures of men wearing du-rags. Once again, Edmonds photographs his subjects from directly behind them. We can trace the du-rag’s origin to the head-wraps worn by female slaves during the antebellum period, and later used to preserve hairstyles, but today both men and women wear du-rags as a symbol asserting cultural pride. A melancholy underlies these portraits, though a majestic and spiritual quality also comes forward, calling to mind totems and religious iconography. A softness and warmth emanates from the colors and folds of the cloth. Edmonds exhibits these portraits on a larger-than-life, monumental scale, implying both nobility and strength, while also subtly undermining the grandiosity by printing on delicate, flowing silk.Edmonds takes an intimate approach to portraiture as a means of exploring symbols of black culture and the body, and through his pictures he poses larger questions about viewership, desire, and power today. Through concealment, he leaves much to the viewer’s imagination, revealing both the complexity of images themselves and the significance of the preconceptions that we bring to them. “At the heart of all of my work,” says Edmonds, “I want to leave people with something that is more human—despite the facade—and to open up feeling and empathy.”—John Edmonds is an artist working in photography whose practice includes fabric, video, and text. He received his MFA in Photography from Yale University School of Art and his BFA in Photography at the Corcoran School of Arts and Design. Most recognized for his projects in which he focused on the performative gestures and self-fashioning of young black men on the streets of America, he has also made evocative portraits of lovers, close friends, and strangers. In addition to his residency here at Light Work, he has participated in residencies at the Center of Photography at Woodstock in Woodstock, New York, FABRICA: The United Colors of Benneton’s Research Center in Treviso, Italy, and The Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. Edmonds lives and works in Brooklyn, New—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Quasi-Stable State" by MonopoleMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
August 28 – October 19Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryEvent: Wednesday, September 13, 6-7:30pmReception: Wednesday, September 13, 5-6pmLight Work is pleased to present the work of photo-collage and video artist Suné Woods, To Sleep With Terra. This will be Woods’ first solo exhibition with Light Work since her residency here in 2016. The exhibition will be on view in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery at Light Work from August 28―October 19, 2017, with an opening reception with the artist on Wednesday, September 13, from 5-6pm.As part of the opening reception, we invite gallery patrons to a special presentation at 6pm. Infused with wordplay, found imagery, sound and moving images in multimedia form by Woods, award-winning poet Fred Moten, and Syracuse University Professor and musicologist James Gordon Williams. Titled You are mine. I see now, I’m a have to let you go, this collaboration was generously supported by Syracuse University’s Humanities Center and is part of the 2017-18 Syracuse Symposium: Belonging. Both events are free, open to the public, and offer refreshments.Urban Video Project (UVP) will feature Suné Woods’ video work, A Feeling Like Chaos, concurrently with When a Heart Scatter, Scatter, Scatter in the Everson’s Robineau Gallery and To Sleep with Terra at Light Work. Woods says that A Feeling Like Chaos “attempts to make sense of a continuum of disaster, toxicity, fear, and a political system that sanctions violence towards its citizens.” This installation will be on view on the Everson Museum’s north facade September 14―23 and October 5―28, 2017, from dusk until 11:00 p.m. Find more information at Angeles-based artist Suné Woods creates multi-channel video installations, photographs, sculpture, and collage. Her practice examines absences and vulnerabilities within cultural and social histories. She also uses microcosmal sites such as the family to understand the larger sociological phenomenon, imperialist mechanisms, and formations of knowledge. She is interested in how language is emotively expressed, guarded and translated through the absence and presence of the physical body.To Sleep With Terra includes photo-collage and works on paper that explore Wood’s ongoing interest in creating her own topographies, gleaned from science, travel, and geographic magazines and books of the past fifty years. The collage work explores the social phenomena that indoctrinate brutality and the ways in which propaganda and exploitation have employed photography.Woods has said of her artistic journey, “Collage seemed the best way for me to articulate all the complicated sensations that were arising for me while processing these streamed documentations of violence, ecology, and a desire to understand more deeply how seemingly disparate things relate when they are mashed up in a visual conversation.”—Suné Woods has participated in residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, and Light Work. Woods has received awards from the Visions from the New California Initiative, as well as The John Gutmann Fellowship Award, and The Baum Award for an Emerging American Photographer. She has exhibited her work at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Lowe Art Museum, Miami, and The San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. She received her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2010 and is currently Visiting Faculty at Vermont College of Fine Art.—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "A Simple Blur" by Blue Dot SessionsMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
March 20 – July 27, 2017Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Friday, April 14, 6pmReception: Friday, April 14, 5-7pmLight Work is pleased to announce Scale Without Measure, a solo exhibition by artist George Awde. Awde’s photographic work explores themes of contemporary masculinity, the male body, friendship, sexuality, and notions of physical and psychological strength, as seen through young men with whom he identifies. The men and boys whom Awde has photographed over the last ten years include migrants to Beirut from Syria. Many are now close friends, allowing for an intimate portrayal of their everyday life. His pictures explore the way that people interact with one another, and in them one senses a longing to belong.As the global refugee crisis escalates, and the early executive orders of a new and contentious president attempt to block refugees from entering the United States, the themes of artist George Awde’s work seem prescient. Raised by Lebanese immigrants in a suburb of Boston, and currently living in the Middle East, Awde’s experiences inform his perspective on the world, his place in it, and his practice as an artist and a teacher.Due to the current political turmoil, Awde has respectfully declined our invitation to attend his opening reception at Light Work to stand in solidarity with the individuals who are central to this work, and others vulnerable to these new policy changes. In lieu of a gallery talk, we will video chat with him during the reception on Friday, April 14 at—George Awde is a visual artist currently based in Doha, Qatar. He is the co-founder/co-director of marra.tein in Beirut, Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, and recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including those from the Aaron Siskind Foundation and a US Fulbright Scholar Grant. He earned an MFA in Photography from Yale University, and a BFA in Painting from the Massachusetts College of Art. Awde participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in July—Special thanks to Marcia Dupratmarciaduprat.comSpecial thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot Sessionssessions.blueMusic: "Winter in Beirut" by Happiness in Aeroplanes See for privacy and opt-out information.
January 17 – March 3, 2017Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, February 2, 6pmReception: Thursday, February 2, 5-7pmThe Gray Line is a series of portraits that artist Kristine Potter made at West Point Military Academy, which has trained a large number of high-ranking Army officers and eventual U.S. politicians. Raised in a military family, Potter notes that “a very particular kind of patriarchy and folklore associated with military heroism” pervaded her childhood years. In this series of photographs, made between 2005 and 2010 at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Potter attempts to disrupt the binary language that conflict seems to publicly heighten. “I’m not interested in voicing opinions of whether war is right or wrong. It exists. My voice has always focused on the human drama. These are people and they get used in the political sphere. But in the end, they’re not symbols, they’re humans with complex feelings and lives, and I find that compelling.”—Born in Dallas, Texas, Kristine earned both a BFA in Photography and a BA in Art History at the University of Georgia in 2000. From 2000 to 2003, Potter lived and worked as a professional printer in Paris, France. In 2005 she earned her MFA in Photography from Yale University. Potter has exhibited work in Paris, New York City, Miami, Atlanta and Raleigh, NC. Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York City represents her, with a book, Manifest,—Special thanks to Marcia Dupratmarciaduprat.comSpecial thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Stories about the world that once was" by Chris ZabriskieMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
November 1 – December 16, 2016Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryGallery Talk: Thursday, November 10, 6pmReception: Thursday, November 10, 5-7pmStanley Wolukau-Wanambwa’s One Wall a Web is an exhibition that gathers together work from two discrete photographic series that he made in the United States: Our Present Invention (2012–2014) and All My Gone Life (2014–2016). Both the series and the exhibition draw their titles from the poetry of Muriel Rukeyser.One Wall a Web not only explores the mutability of archival images, but the ongoing presence of history in the present day. According to Wolukau-Wanambwa, the exhibition attempts to address “the normalcy of fear, separateness and violence in a moment suffused by them, but also in a culture riven by the habitually limited prescriptions of images.” The exhibition comprises two distinct strands of photographs: the first, a series of appropriated archival 4 × 5 inch negatives; the second, a series of original—Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa is a photographer, writer, and editor of The Great Leap Sideways. He has contributed essays to catalogues and monographs by Vanessa Winship, George Georgiou, and Paul Graham, written for Aperture magazine, and is a faculty member in the photography department at Purchase College, SUNY. Wolukau-Wanambwa participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in May—Special thanks to Marcia Dupratmarciaduprat.comSpecial thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: Brethren Arise by Chris ZabriskieMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
August 29 – October 22, 2016Kathleen O. Ellis GalleryLecture: Friday, October 7, 6pmReception: Friday, October 7, 6-8pmFor his exhibition A Place That Looks Like Home, artist Todd Gray re-frames and re-contextualizes images from his personal archive that spans over forty years of his career as a photographer, sculptor and performance artist. Gray describes himself as an artist and activist who primarily focuses on issues of race, class, gender and colonialism.His unique process of combining and layering a variety of images and fragments of images allows him the opportunity to create his own history and “my own position in the diaspora.” Working with photographs of pop culture, documentary photographs of Ghana (where he keeps a studio), portraits of Michael Jackson, gang members from South Los Angeles and photo documentation from the Hubble telescope, Gray asserts what he refers to as his own polymorphous identity that defies definition. Inspired by the work of cultural theorist Stuart Hall, Gray invites the viewer to participate in an “ever-unfinished conversation about identity and history."—Todd Gray lives and works in Los Angeles and Ghana. He received both his BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. He is Professor Emeritus, School of Art, California State University, Long Beach. Gray works in multiple mediums including photo-based work, sculpture and performance. Past solo and group exhibitions include: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Studio Museum, Harlem, NY; USC Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Luckman Gallery, Cal State University, Los Angeles; California African American Museum, Los Angeles; Tucson Museum of Art; Detroit Museum of Art; Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, among others. Performance works have been presented at The Roy & Edna Disney Cal/Arts Theater; (REDCAT), Los Angeles; Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, and the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles. His work is included in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the University of Connecticut and the Studio Museum, Harlem, NY. Gray is a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident Fellow. He is represented by Meliksetian | Briggs Gallery in Los Angeles, California. Gray participated in Light Work's Artist-in-Residence program in July—Special thanks to Marcia Dupratmarciaduprat.comSpecial thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: CAMP by Vir NocturnaMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot See for privacy and opt-out information.
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