Documentary photographs are information, but are they anonymous? The legacy of the Farm Security Administration photographers from the 1930s and '40s allows us the luxury of recognizing a photographer by their body of work. The vision of photographers/social documentaries Dorothea Lange or Jack Delano is perceptible over time, and as straightforward or similar as their subjects might be the particular strength of the photographer is a signature of their achievement.
Lydia Ann Douglas loves photography and is equally as passionate about her heritage as an African American. Her substantial objective 'to comprehensively document the history and contributions of African people in all areas of society' is her means to share and discover knowledge. As Artist-in-Residence at Light Work this past January, Douglas printed a portfolio of work from Jamaica: The People, a documentary about the everyday lives of people in that tiny, but geographically significant Caribbean island.
On foot during her three-week stay Douglas looked everywhere and captured the pace of a people in the markets, in their Sunday clothes, patiently waiting for friends, for a bus, or a job. The quick beat of the ocean and traffic, and the ancient tempo of honoring the moment with hospitality echo the rhythm she captures in her photographs. Her own involvement in the African traditions of music and dance influences the choices that Douglas makes to represent a culture. Douglas uses her photography to pass along information in a language expressed by the strong simple patterns of gesture and bloodlines. Our reward for her identification with her past and the struggle to define a future is a fresh perspective and surfacing of ancient truths.
Lydia Ann Douglas lives and works in Ansonia, CT.
Gina Murtagh (c)1989