Established in 1975, Light Work Grants in Photography recognize the work of three Central New York photographers every year. It is one of the longest running photography fellowships in the United States and provides direct support, opportunity, and visibility to regional artists working in photography. Recipients receive $2,000, a group exhibition in the Light Work Hallway Gallery, and publication in Contact Sheet: The Light Work Annual. The 2014 grant cycle was juried by Natasha Egan, executive director, Museum of Contemporary Photography; Taj Forer, co-founder, Daylight Books; and Paul Moakley, deputy photo editor, Time. For more information about Light Work Grants, visit lightwork.org/grants.
The 40th annual Light Work Grants in Photography recipients are Trevor Clement, Sebastian Collett, and Dan Wetmore. This year’s winners use photography as a tool to examine sites, characters, and narratives that define their lived experiences. These artists present three distinct approaches seeking to expand the blurry boundaries of perceived historical and emotional realities.
Trevor Clement’s Inverted Mountain includes an installation of objects and images, a handmade edition of a 400-page artist book, and an original hourlong avant-garde soundtrack. Clement’s work blends languages of hard-core punk / noise music, Dante’s Purgatorio, and sci-fi cinema to weave a meshed network of images, objects, and sound for a dystopian present-future. Inverted Mountain suggests a queer coming of age in tenderness and rage, an outsider finding identity and place in the chaos of a speculative city and society. In Clement’s words, the project is “a journey towards, and then through, an anonymous city: a location with a dual identity as both place and process.”
Trevor Clement is a visual artist, musician, and performance artist based in Syracuse, NY. His work has been shown at Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY; Spark Contemporary Art Space, Syracuse; and NoFound Photo Fair in Paris. Clement has performed in multiple hardcore-punk / noise groups across the United States. Recent work includes the production of ’zines and artist books, music, and maintainingBADLANDS, an all-ages, DIY art and music space in Syracuse.
The photographs from Sebastian Collett’s Vanishing Point revisit residual memories and desires from growing up gay in a small, college town in Ohio. On occasion of his twenty-year high school reunion, Collett returned to his hometown to find himself through still-familiar streets and archetypes of his youth. Collett describes himself as scouting for stand-ins for “those I had wanted, wanted to be, or was afraid to become.” Through his process of image making, Collett navigates the poetics of longing, becoming, and vanishing — lingering in the eternal process of finding oneself through time, place, and the gaze of other people.
Sebastian Collett is a photographer working in the United States and Berlin. He studied with Stephen Shore and Larry Fink at Bard College and earned his MFA from Hartford Art School. Collett is the recent recipient of a Source-Cord Prize and residencies at the Hambidge Center in Georgia and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. His work has been featured in Vice, Source Photographic Review, Fraction Magazine, Phases Magazine, and Darwin Magazine. Selected exhibitions include Aperture Gallery, New York, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Kominek Gallery, Berlin, Germany; Duke University, Durham, NC; and Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA. His work is in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Light Work.
Dan Wetmore’s Jubilee Kitchen seeks language through the postindustrial mill towns of the Northeastern United States. He first experienced these landscapes as a child through the back seat window of his parents’ car: “I was taken by the furnaces and mills that lined parts of the rivers, often defunct, staggering in scale. In time, I would explore these sites intimately.” Jubilee Kitchen tenderly captures this postindustrial landscape: rich with color, character, and idiosyncrasy. Through his images, Wetmore pays careful attention to the quiet dialogue of nature, beauty, and endurance persisting through the bleak economic conditions that now define much of Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts. A passion for postindustrial landscape — informed by his personal history in Pittsburgh — frames much of Wetmore’s art practice.
Dan Wetmore is a photographer living and making art in Pittsburgh. He received his BFA from Syracuse University in 2013. Wetmore is completing two book projects, Jubilee Kitchen and Golden Dawn. He’s proud of his long brown hair and driving and maintaining a Volvo 740 station wagon.
Clement, Collett, and Wetmore each establish particular, divergent, and specific vernaculars of their worlds as they see them. This year’s Light Work Grants in Photography exhibition illustrates how photography frames and defines our lived experiences: delicately held in the present, suspended between captured pasts and imagined futures.
Jessica Posner is an artist, performer, arts educator, and worker. She teaches in the Department of Transmedia at Syracuse University and is the communications coordinator at Light Work. jessicaposner.com