There is an almost impossible range of detail absorbed throughout the rich shadows in Frank Stewart's photographs. Stewart's knack for illuminating what lies in the shadows is a practiced technical accomplishment and a sensitive metaphorical device that informs his work with a passionate and intellectual sense of purpose, signalling a respect and tribute to the influence of Roy DeCarava.
Stewart continued to hit those same chords of recognition while making photographs at the New York State Fair this past August as a visiting artist at Light Work. In the photograph to the right a young Native American freezes our attention with his penetrating gaze as the silhouette of an out of focus dancer holds down the negative space of the picture frame. On the following page a troupe of young performers desperately await their turn in the spotlight coached by an unseen but overbearing presence of expectant parents. In the last photograph reproduced here Stewart catches a more sophisticated but no less electric moment of final primping by a group of Gospel singers.
In all of these photographs some kind of transformation is anxiously anticipated, something important is about to happen, as Stewart waits, an attentive notary to the stridency of these expressive magnetic scenarios.
Stewart is the latest in a long line of photographers who have made photographs at the State Fair during their residencies at Light Work. Seen through a different set of eyes every year, the Fair continue to echo the diversity of a state of mind that is remarkably Central to New York.
Frank Stewart lives and works in New York City.
Jeffrey Hoone (c)1990