art talks:  Jessica Lynne, Lola Flash, Ming Smith, Ayana Jackson, and Sherry Bronfman

March 9, 2018 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Critic and co-founder of ARTS.BLACK Jessica Lynne moderates a discussion with photographers Lola Flash, Ming Smith, Ayana Jackson, and collector-philanthropist Sherry Bronfman on social justice, constructing identity, and contemporary portraiture followed by an exhibition viewing of Lola Flash: 1986-Present.

art talks.

Jessica Lynne, Lola Flash, Ming Smith, and Ayana Jackson

Friday, March 9th @ 6:30pm


Jessica Lynne is co-founder and editor of ARTS.BLACK, a journal of art criticism from Black perspectives. She received her B.A. in Africana Studies from NYU and has been awarded residencies and fellowships from Art21 and The Cue Foundation, Callaloo, and The Center for Book Arts. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Aperture, Art in America, The Brooklyn Rail, and Kinfolk. She is a Winter 2018 Columnist-in-Residence at Open Space and currently serves as the Manager of Development and Communication at Recess. She is co-editor, alongside Sharon Louden, of a forthcoming book about the art world that will be published by Intellect Ltd. and The University of Chicago Press.

Lola Flash uses photogrpahy to challenge sterotypes and offer new ways of seeing that often transcend and interrogate gender, sexual, and racial norms.  Her work is currently featured at Pen + Brush in an exhibition that spans more than three decades of the artist’s career, beginning in 1986 with works from her “Cross-Color” series, which relate to the AIDS crisis in New York City, and moving through her ongoing and critically lauded “[sur]passing,” “surmise,” “SALT” and “LEGENDS” series.

Finding new ways to utilize the medium and the processes of photography to capture her vision in service of larger social issues is the foundation of who Lola Flash is as an artist. In her early works she employed cross-color processing in the darkroom to reversed the colors captured in the found world. This technical choice became a powerful statement for Flash: as a queer black woman, artist and advocate, Flash did not see herself represented or reflected back at her through contemporary advertising, visual culture or the art historical canon. The act of employing cross-color photography gives the artist the ability to reverse colors in her world.  With her portraits, each taken with a 4x5 film camera, Flash acts as a documentarian, capturing and recording the personal identity of those who are often deemed invisible.

Flash received her bachelor’s degree from Maryland Institute and her Masters from London College of Printing, in the UK. In 2008, she participated in Light Work’s esteemed Artist-in-Residence program. Most recently, Flash was awarded an Art Matters grant, which allowed her to further pursue two projects in Brazil and London. Flash’s work is part of important public and private collections around the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Ming Smith is known for her informal, in-action portraits of black cultural figures, from Alvin Ailey to Nina Simone and a wide range of jazz musicians. Ming’s career emerged formally with the publication of the Black Photographer’s Annual in 1973. She was an early member of the Kamoinge Workshop, an association of several generations of black photographers. Ming has traveled extensively, showing her viewers a cosmopolitan world filled with famous landmarks and extraordinary landscapes. People continue to be her most treasured subjects. This is most apparent in her series depicting African American life.

Ming’s early style was to shoot fast and produce complicated and elaborate images in the developing and post-printing processes, so that many of her pictures carry double dates. She experimented with hand-tinting in “My Father’s Tears, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico” (1977/1979). Ming continues to expand the role of photography with her exploration of image and paint in the more recent, large-scale Transcendence series. Ming’s place in photography’s 175-year history was recognized by her inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art’s groundbreaking exhibition Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography in 2010.

Ming Smith's photography is held in collections in the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum & Center for African American History and Culture, Washington, DC and the AT&T Corporation.

Ayana V Jackson’s work seeks to crystallize the experience of contemporary Africa and African diasporic societies.  She combines honed technical skills with richly laced historical allusions to create hauntingly candid portraits that depict varying constructions of African and African-American identities.  She does this through several photographic approaches ranging from reportage and portraiture to performance and studio based pracIce.

Based between Johannesburg, New York and Paris, Jackson has exhibited her work in associaIon with Gallery MOMO (Johannesburg, RSA), Galerie Baudoin Lebon, (Paris, FR), Primo Marella Gallery (Milan), Galerie Sho Contemporary (Tokyo, Japan), and the  San Francisco Mexican Museum (USA). She has received grants from the Marguerite Casey FoundaIon as well as the French InsItute, the latter supporIng her parIcipaIon in the 2009 Bamako African Photography Biennial.  Public art exhibiIons include, The Space Between Us in associaIon with Ifa Gallery (Berlin/ Stuttgart) and Round 32 of Project Rowhouses in Houston's 3rd ward (USA).

Her photography has been featured in publicaIons including the exhibiIon catalogue for Poverty Pornography & Archival Impulse produced as a collaboraIve effort between her Paris and Johannesburg galleries (2013), the exhibiIon catalogue for her series African by Legacy, Mexican by Birth (produced in collaboration with writer/filmmaker Marco Villalobos in 2006), as well as academic journals n.paradoxa, "Souls: A CriIcal Journal of Black PoliIcs, Culture, and Society" (Columbia University), and art reviews such as Art South Africa, Art + AucIon, Camera Austria, Afrique in Visu, Proximo Futuro/Next Future (Gulbenkian FoundaIon) and Dutch based ZAM magazine.

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