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Light Work Podcast

Today's Artists. On Photography.

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 www.lightwork.org/shop
Latest Episode3/25/2021

Meryl Meisler: The Best of Times, Worst of Times

Season 1, Ep. 29
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!merylmeisler.com—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.org
3/25/2021

Meryl Meisler: The Best of Times, Worst of Times

Season 1, Ep. 29
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!merylmeisler.com—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.org
3/25/2021

Aaron Turner: Black Alchemy, Backwards/Forwards

Season 1, Ep. 28
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 delta.aaronturner.studio—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.org
11/18/2020

Alinka Echeverría: Heroine

Season 1, Ep. 27
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
8/29/2020

Matthew Connors: General Assembly

Season 1, Ep. 26
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, NY.matthewconnors.com—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.org
3/23/2020

Pacifico Silano: The Eyelid Has Its Storms…

Season 1, Ep. 25
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 2016.pacificosilano.com—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Dawn Line Approaching" by Blue Dot SessionsMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot Sessionssessions.blue
3/23/2020

Wendy Red Star: Baaeétitchish (One Who Is Talented)

Season 1, Ep. 24
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 America.lg.ht/WendyRedStar—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 Sessionssessions.blue
3/23/2020

Nicola Lo Calzo: Bundles of Wood

Season 1, Ep. 23
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 Sessionssessions.blue