(Re)Discovering Photographer Willie Middlebrook

The Monk Project - 005 Courtesy of Willie Middlebrook Via Dodge & Burn

Dodge & Burn: Diversity in Photography History

(Re)Discovering Photographer Willie Middlebrook

by Qiana Mestrich

March 25, 2013

” ‘Art is about communication… I need to tell, to show what I see, what I feel. I am intrigued and motivated by life experience, the human condition… My subjects—family and friends—and I have an understanding focused towards a single goal: to speak about our people, our communities. My drive, my direction, my strong social and aesthetic convictions in everything I do stems from my parents, who endowed me with strong feelings about the ideals and the integrity of being black.’ ”

– “Willie Middlebrook quote from the article, ‘Portraits of His People: A Tribute to Willie Middlebrook‘ by Paul Von Blum”

“In LA, Middlebrook was exposed to the Black Arts scene that gave birth to many artists like Outterbridge, David Hammons, sculptor Melvin Edwards and video artist Ulysses Jenkins. For more on LA’s Black Arts movement, check out the catalog for the Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 show recently on view at PS1 MOMA.”

” Middlebrook built his career as a documentary photographer making work about street life and the people (mostly African Americans) of downtown Los Angeles and Watts, CA. His transition to fine art photography began with what he called his ‘photographic paintings’ which involved spraying and brushing developer to reveal emotional portraits through drips then adding toner and bleach for extra effect, as seen in the image below. ”

Portraits of My People #319, 1990 Courtesy of Willie Middlebrook Via Dodge & Burn

Looking for God - Angel 2 by Willie Middlebrook From the C.O.L.A. Project Via Dodge & Burn

” Unfortunately Middlebrook passed away in 2012, but his work will of course live on. To get a deeper sense of the artist, read this 2012 interview with Willie Middlebrook where he talks about his transition from photojournalism to fine art, being an artist in the Black community and much more. ”

To read the complete article, please visit “(Re)Discovering Photographer Willie Middlebrook“.

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