ACP Week: Mary Stanley’s Ones to Watch Exhibition
Today is Day Two of Atlanta Celebrates Photography Week. I am highlighting the annual group exhibition, Ones to Watch, that is curated by Atlanta-based independent curator Mary Stanley. Every ACP, Stanley selects a group of Atlanta locals and national artists that represent up-and-coming photographers that are bringing a fresh voice and perspective to the contemporary photographic landscape. This year is no different, focusing on the personal and narrative as we continue to emerge from the pandemic.
Stand out work by Jasmine Clarke populates the right corner of the space. Four luminous prints with an internal glow and a deep sense of intimacy. There is something magical about her sense of composing narrative that is diaristic but doesn’t forget to feel universal. The images are rooted in the everyday, a curtain, a bed, a window, filtered through her keen, almost surreal eye.
In the center of the exhibition, Kristen Joy Emack’s portraits arrive somewhere between family photographs and mythic painting in their compositions and thin gold frames, elevating the love between family and the representation of young black girls.
I got a chance to speak with newcomer Pierre Solomon about his abstract portraits during the opening. Inspired by the fragmentation of Francis Bacon paintings, his work fragments and overlays portraits of his loved ones to comment on the complex nature of relationships and the different dimensions of the self. The photographs become about the relationship–and distance–between photographer and subject.
Pulling viewers to the other side of the exhibition are the seductive colors and light of Peyton Fulford’s work. From rural Georgia, a place LGBTQ+ folks aren’t often visible, Fulford’s portraits demand to be looked at and to be seen.
Read more about Mary Stanley’s thoughts on her One’s to Watch and her work with Atlanta Celebrates Photography below.
Mary Stanley is an independent curator, private art consultant, and artist representative. Art has been a personal passion of Mary’s for many years, and became her second career in 1997. She started her own art business, Mary Stanley Studio in 2004. Young Collectors Club, started in 2006, provides an educational and social networking opportunity for over 200 young professionals interested in learning about and collecting contemporary art. Mary serves on the Board of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Board of Visitors at Lamar Dodd School of Art at University of Georgia, Board President for Atlanta Celebrates Photography and the Idea Capital Steering Committee.
Exhibition Press Statement
“The 2021 Atlanta Celebrates Photography Ones To Watch selection by independent curator Mary Stanley features ten emerging and established photographers who are using portraiture to highlight the importance of human connection. They explore personal narratives, dispel myths, and investigate new techniques for uncovering honest depictions of their world and their people. These artists make strong statements about identity and intimacy and raise questions about social norms and family values. They take great care to know their subject(s) and to represent them with empathy. They challenge the viewer to want to know more.
Nydia Blas, Shawn Campbell, Jasmine Clarke, Kristen Joy Emack, Anthony Francis, Peyton Fulford, R.J. Kern, Andrew Lyman, Pierre Solomon, and Gabriella Wyke have each garnered impressive recognition for their work, but more importantly they are assertive and industrious. They continue to dive deep to bring to light that which has meaning and beauty, creating images that will endure and inform.”
What We Know: ACP 2021 Ones to Watch
In-person Exhibition: October 1 – November 6, 2021
MINT, 680 Murphy Ave SW, Atlanta, GA, 30310
See the full list of ACP events on the ACP Festival Guide
Ashley Kauschinger: The title of this year’s Ones to Watch exhibition is “What We Know”. What are your thoughts behind this title, how does it tie the selected artists together?
Mary Stanley: During the pandemic we have all experienced isolation and been distanced from typical human interactions. Many artists have been limited to photographing their immediate family, themselves, their close colleagues. Some have ambitiously tried to delve more deeply into long term projects and others have experimented with new techniques and presentation. In all of this, “what we know” is that intimacy and human connection fuel the spirit and are critical to our return to normal. The artists selected for this exhibition are working aggressively in this space to create work that connects us and makes us feel more human. Their portraiture transports us, confirms our priorities, and makes us feel, when we have become numb to so many things.
AK: What are a few of your favorite included works? What strikes you about them?
MS: I am obsessed with Jasmine Clarke’s images Watermelon Swimsuit and Palm Curtain. I love her subtle use of lighting and texture. I also love the intensity of Anthony Francis’ portrait of Kaldric and the way that Anthony describes his interactions with his subjects in the studio. He is masterful in his ability to get the most from them during a shoot.
And hey, Shawn Campbell safety orange cowboy construction is meticulously crafted, clever and just the most unexpected experience ever. So many of these portraits are just “in your face” gorgeous.
AK: What is your process for selecting the artists included?
MS: I spend a great deal of energy surfing the internet, consulting with other artists and curators, doing studio visits, and usually traveling to art fairs and portfolio reviews. This year my process has been a bit different due to the pandemic, but the “net” is still widely cast. I am interested in working with artists who are discerning, meticulous and have an intense curiosity and work ethic.
AK: What do you hope to add to the contemporary conversation on photography through your selections of “Ones to Watch”?
MS: Many of the OTW artists are young and doing work that is edgy and experimental. Bringing them together to share ideas and to support each other in developing their practice has been pivotal for some of the younger artists. Over 115 photographers have been honored as ACP Ones To Watch since the program began in 2010. Each of them have definitely been able to expand their network and grow their collector base through this exposure.
AK: You are also the President of the Atlanta Celebrates Photography board. What is your general mission and motivation for bringing photography to the forefront of the Atlanta art community through this festival?
MS: Atlanta has a vibrant contemporary art community. We are a youthful city that is growing by leaps and bounds. It is our mission for Atlanta to be known as the creative hub of the photographic arts and to support the talented artists who can make that happen. We hope to enrich our community with high quality art experiences, engaging public art, and opportunities for creative self-expression that appeal to diverse audiences and expand appreciation and participation in the visual arts. Photography can be the most inclusive and powerful tool for building community and enhancing the cultural landscape, and it is our priority to realize that goal. We are kicking off our 23rd annual city-wide photography festival and we hope to continue to expand our reach to involve everyone who uses a camera.
AK: Besides “Ones to Watch”, What ACP event do you think are a MUST SEE this year?
MS: The L5P Halloween Photo Walk featuring amazingly spooky and fabulous photographs (competition winners) in storefronts throughout the Little Five Points neighborhood for the entire month of October.
Ashley Kauschinger is an artist, educator, and curator. She received her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and her MFA from Texas Woman’s University. Her photographs have been exhibited and published internationally. Her work is in the collections of Vanderbilt University and the Sir Elton John Collection. Ashley has also been a frequent guest contributor on Lenscratch, an invited curator at The Light Factory, and was the founding editor of the online photography magazine Light Leaked. Ashley has previously taught photography at the University of South Carolina and Maine Media Workshops + College. She currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA.
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