The Light Work Grant program is one of the oldest photography fellowship awards in the United States. Every spring Light Work awards three grants of $1000 to encourage and reward photographers, critics, and photo-historians residing within a fifty-mile radius of Syracuse. The twenty-seventh annual Light Work Grants were awarded in the spring of 2001 to three photographers.
Sylvia de Swaan (Utica), who was born in Romania and fled the Holocaust with her family, was awarded a grant to continue working on Memorabilia, a series of monuments and what de Swaan calls “memory places” photographed in Eastern and Central Europe. By juxtaposing images of her “memory places” with personal, factual, or ironic narratives, de Swaan says she “aims to provoke a complex set of responses [to the] issues of war and [the] memorialization of the past.” The series is comprised of twenty images that merge the past with the present, and convey sixty years of changes in Eastern Europe.
De Swaan is currently a visiting lecturer in photography at Hamilton College, Clinton, NY. She was the executive director of Sculpture Space, Utica, NY, from 1979 to 1995. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. She is a three-time Light Work Grant recipient and has participated twice in the Light Work Artist-in-Residence program.
Ron Jude (Ithaca) submitted the project Landscapes (for Antoine), which takes its title from the Jean-Paul Sartre 1938 existentialist novel La Nausée in which Sartre’s fictional character Antoine Roquentine seeks the meaning of existence and determines with disappointment only “I am. I am. I exist, I think, therefore I am…” Unlike Antoine, Jude does not seem to fear pure existence but finds an ally in it. By stripping his pastoral and roadside scenes of explanation or essence, Jude creates a subtle tension between beauty and banality. According to Sartre, existence precedes the essence of an inanimate object; the existence is hidden by the essence. The essence of the object is made up by the physical qualities and attributes or the simplified idea that is assigned by the viewer. Jude believes the lack or denial of explanation for this series is then the meaning of the work; it just simply is. All of the images in the series were taken in Central New York.
Jude is an assistant professor in the Cinema and Photography Department at the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. He has exhibited in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and London. His work has been published in The New Yorker, Blind Spot, Harper’s, and Double Take.
Kim Waale (Manlius) created Campfire Tale #1 in several formats: a film, a book, and an installation. Initially the piece was shot on 16mm black and white film; stills from the film were scanned and digitally manipulated to create the book and installation. The tale, Waale says, “is a loose reenactment of those kinds of stories I heard told around campfires when I was attending Girl Scout summer camp. I remember being terrified by those stories—the feeling of fear was authentic (and oddly desirable) even though I knew the stories weren’t true.” The series of dark images focuses on a forest floor littered with discarded clothing and a nude woman lying face down among the leaves, assumed dead. She is not; rolling over she reveals that a bear mask covers her face. The last image is of the bear mask, alone in the forest. Waale says the tactics she uses in the project are borrowed from horror movies with irony and parody added. A secondary theme of the piece is human interaction with nature. Because the installation is a replica of the film site, Waale then asks the viewer, “How necessary is a fabricated narrative in framing our encounters with nature?”
Waale is a professor of art and design at Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, NY. Her work has been exhibited throughout the Northeast, and she has received several grants. She is co-editor of A Due Voci: The Photography of Rita Hammond, which will be published by Syracuse University Press in the spring of 2003.
We congratulate the grant recipients and extend our thanks the grant selection panelists: artists Lori Nix of Brooklyn and Iosif Kiraly of Bucharest, Romania. Nix holds an M.F.A. in photography from Ohio State University. Kiraly is a lecturer of photography at the University of Arts in Bucharest.