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Meryl Meisler: The Best of Times, Worst of Times

Season 1, Ep. 29

Meryl Meisler: The Best of Times, Worst of Times

March 22 - July 23, 2021

Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery


In 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 Media

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Light Work

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3/25/2021

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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
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