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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 Episode8/29/2020

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
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
3/23/2020

Robert Benjamin: River Walking

Season 1, Ep. 22
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.”lg.ht/RiverWalking—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 Sessionssessions.blue
3/23/2020

Keisha Scarville: Alma

Season 1, Ep. 20
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.”lg.ht/ScarvilleAlma—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 Center.keishascarville.com—Special thanks to Daylight Blue Mediadaylightblue.comLight Worklightwork.orgMusic: "Time Passing" by David Hilowitz and "Difference" by Kai EngelMusic: "Vela Vela" by Blue Dot Sessionssessions.blue