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Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Art
 

10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, November 14



John Edmonds: Anonymous
Light Work Gallery

Light Work Gallery
316 Waverly Ave., Syracuse University, Syracuse

In his exhibition, Anonymous, John Edmonds combines two distinct series of portraits, both of which conceal the identities of their subjects. The first series comprises striking formal studies of individuals wearing hoods on the street, photographed from behind. We can quickly read this suite of images as a statement on the unjust death of Trayvon Martin and how individuals of color face issues of racism, safety, and injustice in systemic ways. "All the work that I make is from a very personal place," says Edmonds of his process. "It starts with me." Edmonds further embeds himself in this work by photographing his subjects wearing his own hoodies and jackets. With little visual clues to guide us, we may only learn from the artist that the obscured individuals in fact vary in race, gender, and age.

In contrast to the charged public space that Edmonds considers with these pictures, a second series of portraits celebrates blackness and beauty through private and sensual pictures of men wearing du-rags. Once again, Edmonds photographs his subjects from directly behind them. We can trace the du-rag's origin to the head-wraps worn by female slaves during the antebellum period, and later used to preserve hairstyles, but today both men and women wear du-rags as a symbol asserting cultural pride. A melancholy underlies these portraits, though a majestic and spiritual quality also comes forward, calling to mind totems and religious iconography. A softness and warmth emanates from the colors and folds of the cloth. Edmonds exhibits these portraits on a larger-than-life, monumental scale, implying both nobility and strength, while also subtly undermining the grandiosity by printing on delicate, flowing silk.


 

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