Stephen DiRado: Up Island
Stephen DiRado is a rare artist who has created a rich legacy of excellence in photography. Each of his projects celebrate the human connection–our relationships to each other and to our planet–in an honest and poetic way, captured with large format consideration. Five years ago, he was awarded a well deserved Guggenheim Fellowship for that legacy. Stephen has spent the past 30 years making summer photographs on Martha’s Vineyard, and he has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to make a book of this work. These timeless black and white photographs reflect a practice that comes as natural as the summer sun, ingrained in his routine of returning to the same shores year after year.
Stephen DiRado (born 1957, lives and works In Worcester, MA) is a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design and has taught at Clark University for over three decades. He has produced several bodies of work depicting the lives of friends, families, neighbors and communities in the Worcester area (including ‘Bell Pond’ and ‘Mall’) and on Martha’s Vineyard (‘Beach People’). In 2012, DiRado was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in photography. A mini-retrospective of his work, entitled ‘A Photographer’s Embrace’ and curated by Kristina Durocher, opened at the University of New Hampshire Art Museum in October, 2017.
For some thirty years, I have photographed a community of artists, writers, friends, and seekers during summers on Martha’s Vineyard. While individual portraits form a central part of this body of work, community is likewise an important theme, set against a remote, singular island landscape. While rooted in a documentary ethos, my work contains elements of staging and artifice, for example, the use of studio-style equipment like flashes and reflectors in my beach portraits. Virtually all of my up-island photographs are made with an 8×10-inch, large format view camera.
The result, I hope, is a body of work that evokes summer, and the relationship of the individual to landscape, while also exploring the interpersonal dynamics and inner worlds of my subjects, most of whom I have known and photographed for many years.
The book project consists of about seventy images in its current form, and is edited by Tom Morrissey.
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