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Converging Margins

curated by Leah Oates

November 8, 2008 – January 11, 2009

Historically, artists have lived to some degree or another on the margins of society – seen as neither working class nor upper class.

Because of such a fluid identity, artists are able to interact with people and communities from a diverse range of backgrounds. They are often drawn to life on the margins as it represents a distancing from the norm and allows for more freedom of thought and action. By choosing not to belong to any one sector of society and by remaining ‘unclassifiable’ artists can break through existing barriers between often disparate sectors of society.

Converging Margins highlights 11 photographers whose work shows us what it is to be human and how mutable identity is even in a time in which people are becoming more attached to concepts of race, beauty, class, religion, and ethnicity. The photographers featured in Converging Margins have established and maintained long-term relationships with their subjects, and through the act of photographing, they become a fixture of these communities and transcend any perceived barriers by making their art.

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Paul D’Amato happened upon the Mexican neighborhood of Pilson in Chicago in 1988.  Feeling drawn to the energy of the poor and “rough” neighborhood, D’Amato spent the next 15 years returning to photograph the people of Pilson. He began by photographing the notorious gang, “La Raza”, whose trust gained him access to the community at large, inviting D’Amato to weddings, quinceneras and dinner.  He photographed as a member of this community, from the inside looking out.

Juliana Beasleyhas been photographing in the Rockaways region of Queens, New York for several years. Her images are imbued with the mystery and melancholy her subjects exude.  Over the years Beasley has become friends with many of the people she photographs and has come to consider the Rockaways a place full of magic and wonder. Her portraits reveal the raw human energy of challenged people living life fully on the edge of mainstream society.

Artists often move away from the towns or small cities in which they grew up in only to return seeking a sense of connection to family, friends, and places left behind.Richard Gary, Rachael Dunville and Deana Lawson have each returned to photograph people and places from their past in order to capture the essence of the moments and relations that shaped them. They view their hometowns with a removed perspective but with the genuine desire to connect and reexamine the moments and people from an earlier chapter of their life.

Lauren Greenfield’s multi-media project, Thin documents women who are fighting their obsession with making their own bodies painfully and dangerously thin. Not only have these women marginalized and become psychologically detached from their own bodies, but they show the human mind’s ability to marginalize us from ourselves and others. Through her process of filming, interviewing, and photographing her subjects, Greenfield allows us to witness their struggle, understand its complexity, and see the fragility of the human body under self-imposed stress.

The series The Girl of My Dreams began when Stacy Renee Morrison accidentally found a trunk of keepsakes once owned by Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander, a woman born 133 years before Morrison’s own birth. Compelled by the mysterious trunk, Morrison began to research Ostrander’s genealogy.  Shortly thereafter, Ostrander began appearing in Morrison’s dreams. Through her photography, Morrison created a place where the two women could converge. With Morrison serving as Ostrander’s surrogate in the images she effectively connects the living and the dead and brings a long-forgotten woman to life.

Each year, Miles Ladin photographs the fashion shows at Bryant Park during NYC’s Fashion Week as well as the after parties that are attended by the ‘rich and famous’. Ladin has been photographing these events for several years and as a result of his familiar presence, he has become part of this culture. With the intimacy of an insider, Ladin’s images allow us to peak into such exclusive private gatherings and consider the spectacle of public identity.

Lucas Foglia’s photographic portrait of a neighborhood garden in Providence, Rhode Island reveals such endeavors as a place for people who live within a larger community but come from different backgrounds to gather, work side by side, and transcend cultural and societal boundaries. Foglia’s images additionally celebrate the community garden as a meditative space where locals are able to participate in a collective enterprise and create beauty.

Ed Templeton began skateboarding at age thirteen in California. Through skate culture Templeton found a forum to discuss racism and homophobia and in turn has come to serve a pioneering role in making skateboarding a leading cultural force. Skateboarding, now a worldwide culture (and industry) attracts people from all sectors and margins of society. Ed Templeton’s photographs and site-specific installations echo the feeling of a living scrapbook and suggesting skaters as a nomadic collective family.

Stephen Schuster has said that “Nobody knows the city like the graffiti writer”.  His documentation of graffiti writers and their environments reveals their vision of the city and its discarded spaces as the experience of subject and photographer collide in this show.

Collectively, the artists in Converging Margins cross real and perceived boundaries through the process of photographing to show us that life is extraordinary in every way, in every place.

— Leah Oates, Curator, Station Independent Projects

 

Leah Oates is an independent curator and artist who has organized over 30 exhibitions and projects over the past 10 years at venues such as Nurture Art Gallery, Artists’ Space, OIA Gallery, Chashama Gallery, Peer Gallery, and The Kaufmann Arcade Gallery all in NYC. In 1999, Oates served as the in-house curator for Chicago’s Peace Museum where she organized historical exhibitions about the peace movement in the US as well as readings and lectures. Oates currently writes for NY Arts Magazine and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Juliana Beasley 

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Paul D’Amato

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Rachael Dunville

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Lucas Foglia

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Richard Gary

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Lauren Greenfield

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Miles Ladin

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Deana Lawson 

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Stacy Renee Morrison

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Stephen Schuster

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Ed Templeton

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