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July 12th, 2013

Camilo Jose Vergara Is First Photographer to Win National Medal of Humanities

© Univ. of Chicago Press/photo by Camilo Jose Vergara

© Univ. of Chicago Press/photo by Camilo Jose Vergara

Sociologist, writer and documentary photographer Camilo José Vergara is the first photographer to win a National Medal of Humanities. On July 10, President Obama awarded 24 National Medals of Arts & Humanities for 2012– Vergara included for his “stark visual representation of American cities” over the past four decades.

The National Medal of Humanities recognizes those who have contributed to the field of American humanities. As President Obama explained at the awards ceremony, the works of the medal recipients “nourish the mind and soul” and challenge us to examine ourselves and our world.

After graduating from Notre Dame and Columbia in sociology, Chilean-born Vergara set out to capture America’s urban communities and ghettoes from New York City to Detroit to East Los Angeles. To capture the effects of time on inner cities, Vergara serially photographs places from the same spot. He even uses the same camera and lens to paint more accurately how urban places have changed over the years.

These time-lapse and other photographs cover America’s poorer neighborhoods like the South Bronx, Newark and Detroit. Vergara writes in a Time LightBox article that he “see[s] photography as a medium that spurs continuous inquiry and thus leads to greater understanding of the spirit of a place.”

His first book, The New American Ghetto (1995), explores the despairing transformations of diverse metropolises. His latest book, Harlem: the Unmaking of a Ghetto (October 31, 2013) is a 43-year culmination of photographing the neighborhood during racial desegregation/integration, ghettoization and ongoing gentrification.

His work has been shown at institutions such as the National Building Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, New York and Chicago Historical Societies and J. Paul Getty Museum. In 2002, Vergara won a MacArthur fellowship.

June 27th, 2013

Obituary: Fine-Art Photographer Sarah Charlesworth, 66

© Sarah Charlesworth

“Carnival Ball, 2011″ from “Available Light.” © Sarah Charlesworth/courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.

 

Sarah Charlesworth, a fine-art photographer, teacher and member of The Pictures Generation, died on June 26 in Falls Village, Connecticut, of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 66 years old.

Charlesworth was born in East Orange, New Jersey, and graduated from Barnard College in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts in art history. She cofounded the nonprofit art magazine BOMB in 1981, and her work was featured on the cover of its launch issue. She began teaching art and photography in 1983, and has regularly instructed classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Rhode Island School of Design and New York University. Recently, she was appointed a lecturer at Princeton University.

The Baldwin Gallery in Aspen, Colorado, along with the Susan Inglett Gallery in New York City and the Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles, represented Charlesworth in the United States; the Galerie Tanit represented her in Munich. In her current solo show, “Available Light,” which opened at the Baldwin Gallery on June 21, Charlesworth used the sunlight from her studio window and objects, like a crystal ball, a bowl and prisms, to add an element of mystery and illusion to her conceptual, still-life photographs.

Kiki Jai Raj, an associate from the Baldwin Gallery, wrote in an e-mail: “[Charlesworth’s] work, has always embodied, for me, a formal elegance that for all its austerity illuminated the spiritual edge of the great beauty and purity of the scientific properties of light and form in our universe.”

In an Arts & Culture article published in 1999, the Boston Herald noted that Charlesworth’s images “challenge the mind and seduce the eye at the same time.” Her work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions at many notable institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of Arts.

Charlesworth is survived by Lucy Poe and Nick Poe, her two children with filmmaker Amos Poe.