Photographer Mia Collis captures the story of Boxgirls, a program that teaches boxing and life skill to young girls growing up in the Kariobangi slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Continue reading
Christopher Gielen is not an architect and he can’t speak to the future of land development, but he hopes his photographs will serve as a tool for those who can make a difference. Continue reading
Here at Art Beat, we don’t want to shy away from difficult conversations and sensitive topics when they are depicted in art. Such was the case when we posted the story “Photographer examines what being white looks like.” It elicited many reactions and raised lots of questions about depictions of race and definitions of diversity. Continue reading
In 2007, photographer Myra Green had just finished “Character Recognition,” a collection of images of her face printed through a historical photographic process called ambrotype on black glass. The project sparked a conversation with one of her friends about race. Continue reading
What does an 1886 oil painting share with an abstract mobile made of sheet metal and wire in 1950? They both belong to “Made in the USA,” an exhibit at Washington, D.C.’s Phillips Collection that chronicles how American artists evolved from romantic depictions in the 19th century to dealing with urbanization and its discontents in the 20th, to abstract expressionism following World War II. Continue reading
The question “what is cool?” remains a topic of debate, a generational point of contention. But for Frank Goodyear and Joel Dinerstein, it’s the question “who is cool?” that takes center stage in the “American Cool” exhibit they curated for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Continue reading
“Hunger Through My Lens” gives digital cameras to food stamp recipients and asks them to chronicle what it’s like to be hungry in America. So far, 15 women –who come from all walks of life– have participated. Over the months, they’ve formed a “sisterhood” of sorts, supporting and encouraging one another. One woman is a former paralegal who suffers from autism. One is a family practice physician. A third woman is HIV-positive and has struggled with chronic homelessness. A fourth just got off government assistance and is now an executive director of a local non-profit organization. Continue reading
In his project, “Where Children Sleep,” photographer James Mollison explores how the sleeping spaces of children around the world reveal much about their lives. Sadly, the notion that we’re all born equal is not the case, he says.
He pairs each of the children — photographed on a plain background — with interior shots of their bedrooms. “Each kid was picked in a way to kind of tell a story about the way different children were living,” Mollison says. “There were some surprises.”
Mollison, whose work has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, the New Yorker, Le Monde and elsewhere, spoke to us by phone from a hotel in Kenya about some of the subjects in his book: Tzvika, an Israeli boy; Douha, a Palestinian girl; gun-toting Joey from Kentucky; strawberry-loving Kaya from Japan; and Indira, a young Nepalese quarry worker.
“There’s an incredible privilege being allowed to go into people’s houses,” Mollison says. “And I learned how incredibly privileged I am to be able to fly into a situation and see how these people live and to be able to leave it again.”
There will always be inequality, he adds. “That’s never not going to exist. It’s just how much that inequality is acceptable.”
“Brion Gysin: Dream Machine,” the first U.S. retrospective of the artist’s work, is currently on view at the New Museum in New York City.
The photographs in Richard Misrach’s “Destroy This Memory” series showing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are like the disaster in one way: They came about unexpectedly.
Misrach is an artist known for lush, large-scale color photographs created with an 8×10 large format camera — a behemoth compared to its modern digital cousins. The photos in “Destroy This Memory,” however, were shot with a consumer-quality, four mega-pixel pocket camera, a device Misrach originally intended to use for “note-taking.”
The artist spent three months documenting the devastation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but it wasn’t until he returned to California and reviewed his digital images that he was struck by their power.
“[The smaller camera] allowed me to do things I could not do with the bigger camera,” he said, “and one of them was the sort of artless… raw communication that does parallel that actual writing on the walls.”
“Destroy This Memory” comprises 69 color prints showing graffiti messages Katrina victims and rescue workers scrawled on homes, cars and public buildings as a means of communication and expression in the post-disaster Gulf Coast region.
Below: Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Photo by Thomas R. DuBrock
Misrach donated his work to five museums across the United States — including the New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the National Gallery in Washington D.C., the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art — to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The series is currently on show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and opens Saturday at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The series has also been made into a book, published by Aperture.
Despite the unexpected impact of the images from his pocket camera, Misrach initially resolved to put the photographs aside and release them 20 years after the disaster, in 2025, so they could be pondered in posterity. (Misrach’s coverage of the 1991 Oakland, Ca., fires will be released in 2011.)
“I did not want to exploit this tragedy,” said Misrach.
“People were really suffering, and it was in the current historical moment and I didn’t feel comfortable putting the work out. But I also thought about, actually, early Civil War photographs. And I thought, ‘Gosh, those war photos at the time must have been very, very strange’ — to have people going to photograph battlefields and dead people and so on. And yet today, we value those photographs. I mean, they are just some of the most precious historical artifacts we could have in American history.”
A midnight epiphany, compounded by the artist’s sense that people needed to see what had happened, drove the artist to release the images earlier than anticipated.
“One night I woke up and the whole project just came together,” said Misrach. “I thought it should be the people’s words, their voices, with as little a footprint as I could have.”