In solidarity with recent world and domestic issues, the Emily Davis Gallery’s new exhibit, “Bearing Witness: A Response to Current Events by Regional Photographers,” investigates the topics of social justice, pride, police brutality and a world pandemic impacting lives of essential workers and those at home.
“Bearing Witness” is available for viewing through Oct. 9 at the gallery, located in Folk Hall, 150 E. Exchange St., on the University of Akron campus. The exhibit presents photographic artwork from four regional artists, including Aja Joi Grant, Christopher Mason, Omid Tavakoli and Myers School of Art alum Autumn Bland. The exhibit will also debut works from the school of art collection by activist and photographer Danny Lyon.
Autumn Bland, a Myers School of Art alum, created the series “Portraits of a Pandemic” as a personal project to keep herself engaged during the lockdown. “Portraits of a Pandemic” focuses on the “duality of life this pandemic is creating among those with essential jobs and those staying at home.”
“Portraits of Pride,” a tangential project, is “designed to connect, empower, and uplift LGBTQ+ people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, religions, abilities and ethnicities.”
Aja Joi Grant highlights the human connection to the unknown and unseen, and the beauty of our own being. Grant states that her work focuses on those people with “multiple layers to their identity, and how they choose to honor that in times of stress and overstimulation. I wanted to highlight their peace as a means of resistance and rebellion.”
Christopher Mason sees his work as the product of always being prepared to capture what is unexpected. He dives into the duality of day and night, to that of male and female, or seeking to observe the power of persuasion that can be held over another when they possess something another desires. Mason says that, “When showing work to family and friends they always removed images that the ‘subject matter’ was blurred; as I kept looking at these images, I found them to be captivating and different and sometimes still beautiful images. The virtue of blurred people can resemble other people. Blurriness licenses mutations and metaphor.”
Omid Tavakoli “investigates the protest and civic unrest focused towards the police since the murder of George Floyd,” exploring how “the Black Lives Matter movement has brought a magnifying glass to the funding received by police throughout America and has led to a call to defund the police by redistributing those funds into the community through education, social work and outreach.”
Danny Lyon began photographing the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement where he worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Lyon captured the leaders of the movement, including Rep. John Lewis, Ruby Doris Smith, Ella Baker, James Forman and James Baldwin on film. Lyon photographed in the style of New Journalism, immersing himself within the circumstances that he captured. Lyon’s work shows us the beginnings of a movement and ongoing struggle that still has much work to do.
This exhibit is organized by the Emily Davis Gallery, and the show runs through Friday, Oct. 9. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery will have partial access on Tuesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. til close. For info, visit www.uakron.edu/art/galleries, call (330) 972-5950 or email [email protected].