Light Work gallery celebrates 40 years

Sep 20, 2013

For forty years, the nonprofit photography gallery Light Work has been bringing photographers from around the world to Syracuse through its residency program. A new exhibition at Syracuse University celebrates that anniversary by showcasing one photographer from each year.  

The first artist-in-residence at Light Work, was Charles Gatewood who photographed the New York State Fair when he was in Syracuse. His black and white portrait of the human pincushion at a sideshow is part of the exhibition “40 Artists - 40 Years.”

Shane Lavalette, the director of Light Work, explains how the program has worked over the years.

"The residency is basically we invite artists to come to Syracuse for one month. We give them a generous stipend and apartment to live in and then they use our lab and facility to make work," said Lavalette.

And they often will donate one of their pieces to the Light Work collection. Lavalette says this exhibition is a culmination of that history.

"The residency program can help launch artists’ careers in a lot of ways," he said

Like Cindy Sherman who came in 1981. Her self-portrait next to a window says she's "waiting for the snow, wish you were here." Sherman went on to win a half a million dollar MacArthur Fellowship later in her career.

Lavalette says the exhibition has a wide variety of styles.

“It's a real mix of different types of photography, different approaches -- artists with diverse backgrounds working with different subject matter. If you don't know a lot of photography it’s an opportunity to explore and spend time with the work," he said.

Light Work also runs a lab facility open to the public that includes a wet darkroom, digital printing, workshops and classes.

The exhibition runs until October 25.