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Light Work awards 2008 photography grants

May 08, 2008

Jessica Heckman
(315) 443- 1300

Jessica Heckman

The 34th Annual Light Work Grants in Photography were recently awarded to three Central New York residents. The selected artists are Kathy Morris, Paul Pearce and Nancy Keefe Rhodes. For the past 34 years, Light Work has awarded grants to photographers, critics and photo historians who reside in Central New York. The Light Work Grants in Photography program is a part of Light Work's ongoing effort to provide support and encouragement to artists working in photography. The grants also aim to foster an understanding and appreciation for photographic arts in Central New York.

The Light Work Grant is a fellowship that includes a $2,000 cash award, an exhibition at Light Work and publication in "The Light Work Annual." Applicants were required to submit 10 examples of their work, along with a short application form. Three judges from outside the grant area then selected the recipients based on the merits of their work.

Kathy Morris' series "Spinal Diary" is, in her words, "a visual and written narrative about back pain, back surgery, healing and the vulnerabilities of being one of the 47 million Americans without health insurance." Her images examine the current health care crisis. Her autobiographical series exemplifies how artists translate and transcend physical challenges through creative expression. Morris has exhibited nationwide, and she has received numerous grants and awards. Her work is included in permanent collections nationwide. She previously received the Light Work Grant in 1986.

Paul Pearce's photographs question the concept of civilized societies and look at the conflict between morality and militarism. He is, in his own words, "fascinated by the packaging of ideas and beliefs." Pearce's work looks back at his time as a combat veteran and his reactions to the policies and actions of that time. Pearce is an adjunct professor in photography at the SUNY College at Oswego. His work has been exhibited nationwide. He previously received the Light Work Grant in 1981.

Nancy Keefe Rhodes won the 2008 Light Work Grant in Photography with a proposal for a photo-historian project in which she will prepare a selection of work by longtime local documentary photographer Marjory Wilkins for exhibition. Wilkins has been photographing Syracuse's African American community for more than 60 years, including the now-vanished neighborhood of the 15th Ward. Rhodes will work with both Wilkins and her son David, a photojournalist, to select and prepare the photographs for exhibition. She will also write an extended essay about the value and context of these historic images. Rhodes is a freelance arts journalist covering film, photography and visual arts. She has written for such publications as The Insider in Rochester and Syracuse's City Eagle.

The judges for the 2008 Light Work Grants competition were Dennis DeHart, Cristina Fraire and John Clark Mayden. DeHart's photographs and interdisciplinary projects are compelled by the connections, conflicts and intersections of the natural and cultural worlds. His work has been featured in numerous galleries internationally, published in a variety of books, and is featured in both private and public permanent collections.

Argentine photographer Fraire participated in Light Work's Artist-in-Residence program in 2008. Her images capture mountain shepherd communities that are isolated high in the Cordoba province -- communities that do not use electricity or telephones, don't have roads, and depend on sheep as their single economic resource. Fraire's work has been featured in both solo and group exhibitions internationally.

Mayden participated in Light Work's Artist-in-Residence program in 2008. He has worked in Baltimore's Law Department for 26 years. His work depicts the wide range of experiences found in inner-city life, from good times and joy to drugs, misery, social injustice and crime. Mayden's photographs have been exhibited nationwide and are featured in permanent collections at the Baltimore Museum of Art and Ohio Wesleyan University, among other organizations.

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