Chicago photographer, Dawoud Bey, exhibits a collection of his early photographs, “Harlem, USA” at the Art Institute of Chicago. This is the first mounting of this series of work that Mr. Bey created in the late 1970s since its premiere exhibition at the Studio Museum, an American contemporary art museum in Harlem, in 1979.
by Jennifer Madison
Published May 8, 2012
“Once the epicenter of a thriving black American culture, by the late 1970s, Harlem had lost a third of its population as residents sought safer streets.
Those that remained, prideful, and loyal to the community they called home – barbers, patricians, church-going ladies in ribboned hats and knitted shawls – were among those lensed by photographer Dawoud Bey.”
“He [Mr. Bey] told WBEZ.org: ‘I began to make photographs that had more to do with what I was hearing and experiencing in Harlem, and what the people I was photographing in Harlem were offering me rather than some preconceived notion about how I could put a positive visual spin on the black experience. It became more complex than that.'”
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Dawoud Bey was born in Jamaica, Queens in 1953. He changed his birth name, David Edward Smikle, to Dawoud Bey in the early 1970s. He studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1977 – 1978, graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in photography from Empire State College in 1990, and received his Masters of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) from Yale University School of Art in 1993. Currently, he lives in Chicago, Illinois, teaching at Columbia College Chicago.
Wednesday, May 2 through Sunday, September 9, 2012
Gallery 189 in the Art Institute of Chicago
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