Election 2020 : What Matters | Curated by Billy Howard

 

Curator’s Statement

I have used words and images in most of my personal projects and while many photographers feel images should be able to stand alone, I have been compelled by projects where the image collaborates with the words (and vice-versa) to enhance and empower a message. In curating Election 2020: What Matters for South X Southeast Photomagazine I wasn’t looking for the strongest photographs or the strongest statements but for entries where the words and images worked together to elevate the message.

The selections for this first of four issues on the subject include Kris Moore’s two illustrative photo series use visual metaphors to address complex issues. In House Divided she targets a psychological breakdown in our movement away from empirical-based knowledge to an embrace of conspiracy  theories and intolerance, and in Fly Away, Breath targets the human impact on our natural resources, in particular on the lives of animals being displaced by our constant encroachment into their natural habitats.

Allan Mestel, in his project Yearning to Breathe Free presents a counter-narrative to rhetoric dehumanizing immigrants by documenting the people seeking asylum as they wait in limbo in a migrant camp across the Texas border in Mexico. His portraits belie the notion that these people are “rapists, murderers and criminals.” If anything, he illustrates a shared humanity. The children’s faces, in particular, shine with a hopefulness that is universal in children, linking us all on a chain of shared life, and responsibility to “the least among us.”

Austen Risolvato’s The American Way is a visual rebuttal to the attempts to limit, through the courts, a woman’s dominion over her own body. Reclaiming the flag, Risolvato’s work confronts politicians—predominantly male—who target only one gender with laws based not on science and medicine, but on conflating the flag with the Bible to foist their personal morality on the rights of women. It is a satirical middle finger to those who would claim patriotism as their sole province.

Finally, Margo Miller’s work Seafood Sourcing: Coastal Georgia approaches the idea of unity and community coming through locally sourced food, connecting us to each other through a closer relationship to what sustains us. Building relationships between the providers and consumers of the food we eat ‘encourages mutual respect, and maybe even camaraderie’. Not a bad goal in a world facing ever greater divisions.

The work in this issue ranges from documentary, to illustration, to conceptual, each finding a path through the use of words and images to make an impactful statement on the issues the artists found important. Photography is the fastest growing art form in the world and has become a universal language, telling the stories of our lives through social media platforms and empowering individuals to communicate globally, an amazing power that, if used positively, can help foster understanding across boundaries. These four photographers are each on a path to build that understanding, through truth, lyricism, and satire they have found a way to speak, using not only words, but images to elevate their message. -Billy Howard

 

Billy Howard is a documentary photographer and writer. He is on the board of directors for Atlanta Celebrates Photography, was a 2011-2012 Rosalyn Carter Fellow in Mental Health Journalism, a National Endowment for the Arts/Southern Arts Federation Fellow, and received an honorary doctor of literature degree from St Andrews University in North Carolina.

His work has been exhibited with the Smithsonian; Vogue Italia; on a five-city tour of Japan; and has been featured in documentaries for Frontline and HBO. He has been interviewed on Good Morning America and CBS This Morning and his images were projected at the opening ceremonies for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games during a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Howard is an award winning writer and has authored and co-authored four history books documenting significant anniversaries for independent schools in the United States and Switzerland.

His photographs are in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the High Museum of Art, the Carter Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MOCA GA,  and other museums and non-profit collections. Howard produced the first full-length documentary book on the AIDS pandemic: Epitaphs for the Living: Words and Images in the Time of AIDS. His photographs, negatives, and ephemera from this work are archived in Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Book Library.

Editors Note: If you would like to submit for this continuing series, Election 2020 : What Matters, please click here. Thank you!

 


 House Divided | Kris Moore

Separate but Equal ©Kris Moore

 

A home represents our psychological foundations and as such symbolizes a family portrait. In older and modest neighborhoods like mine, faded paint and untamed vines give us a glimpse of an emotional history from generations of families who have lived there. Gardens represent hope. Flowers and shrubs create a buffer from street noise and prying eyes. A leaky roof or cracked foundation is cause for woe, but we do our best to keep up. We dream our dreams. We conjure magic in our spare time.

Some of us believed things were going well, or at least not too badly. We were committed to fix what was broken, improve what was not, while aspiring to the virtues of civility and tolerance. But the kettle was boiling too close to the edge of the stove. Little by little, much of the country was rejecting the enlightenment values of empirical-based knowledge, reason, and a constitutional government based on laws and the separation of church and state. Growing numbers of ill-informed citizens instead are turning to baseless conspiracy theories that feed fear and outrage against an imagined oppressor.

I began this series when Trump was elected president and offer it in the spirit of political satire, meant to amuse and provoke. Intolerance on both sides of the political spectrum threaten our union. Continued attacks on truth and a mounting refusal to honor the rule of law will end our democratic way of life. As Trump and his minions spread misinformation, they refuse to hold themselves accountable for breaking not only norms but our laws.

I photograph older middleclass homes then digitally or physically alter them to suggest social divisions. The series begins with simple illustrations of mild unease, then disintegrates into a complex vision of dystopia. Newspaper clippings have been added to reinforce the political statement and act as time capsule. The captions spontaneously occur to me and appear within the image or on a brass plate affixed to the frame. -Kris Moore

 

 

Kris Hodson Moore

www.krishodsonmoore.com

www.instagram.com/hodsonmoore

www.instagram.com/housedividedphotos

Kris Moore’s work addresses current events, social engagement, and protecting the natural world.

Moore began her career in 1971 as a self-taught artist. Her formal fine art studies began in 1975 at Indiana University. She pursued her practice in New York City working as a portrait artist, photojournalist, and fine art photographer. Her work expanded to include commercial video production, copy writing, and video editing in New Mexico as the owner of High Fire Productions.

She co-produces Open Show San Diego for the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. She co-founded the photographers’ group, Snowcreek Collaborative in 2016 and founded Strong Strong Women, an artists critique, in 2018.

 

Public Art Installation:

North Park Garage Exterior Panel Design; San Diego, California, 2019-2029

Selected Exhibitions:

Tularosa House Gallery; Womxn by Womxn group exhibition, San Diego 2020

The Frame Maker Gallery; Strong Strong Women group exhibition, San Diego CA, 2019

Davis Orton Gallery; 5th Annual Exhibition, 2019, juror: Paula Tognarelli

The Photographer’s Eye Collective; Woman/Self, two-person exhibition, Escondido, CA, 2019

Art of Change; California rotating exhibition, Climate Science Alliance, 2018 – present

In the In-Between; online magazine, Now You Don’t: Photography and Extinction, 2018 juror: Stephanie Amon

Center for Fine Art Photography; Ft. Collins, Colorado, Center Forward, 2018, jurors Hamidah Glasgow and Kris Graves

Los Angeles Center for Photography; Expanding Boundaries, 2018, juror scott b. davis

Photoplace Gallery; Middlebury, Vermont, Myths, Legends, and Dreams, 2018, juror Amy Holmes-George

Center for Fine Art Photography; Photography as Response, 2017, Directors Honorable Mention, juror Christy Havrenek,

La Jolla Athenaeum; La Jolla, California, Juried Exhibitions, 2015, 2017


 

Fly Away, Breath. | Kris Moore

Fly Away, Breath. ©Kris Moore

 

Humans do not belong in the icy waters off Southern California. This is not our place. It belongs to the fish and crustaceans. To dolphins, turtles, sharks, seals, and awe-inspiring whales. It belongs to the shorebirds and migrating flocks of ducks. This is not our place. We cannot survive in these waters. But neither can they if we don’t clean up after ourselves.

Where land meets ocean, the impact of humans is clear. Beaches are littered with human trash: plastic straws, balloons, bottle caps, cigarette butts. Plastic bags are useful in the grocery store, but are deadly to fish, birds and turtles when they are swallowed or wrapped around gills.

Fly Away, Breath. began as a spoof on the suffocation hazards I’d been warned about since childhood, a commentary on depression, and a preference for anonymity, but I live near the ocean where plastic waste overwhelms some of our beaches, so over time this series has become a statement about the biohazards of plastic that affect not only sea creatures but humans as well. It has become a visual commentary on the ravages of plastic and plastic production ranging from environmental disasters to psychological despair. Plastic is infinitely useful, but I feel guilt for using it. -Kris Moore

 

Kris Hodson Moore

www.krishodsonmoore.com

www.instagram.com/hodsonmoore

www.instagram.com/housedividedphotos

Kris Moore’s work addresses current events, social engagement, and protecting the natural world.

Moore began her career in 1971 as a self-taught artist. Her formal fine art studies began in 1975 at Indiana University. She pursued her practice in New York City working as a portrait artist, photojournalist, and fine art photographer. Her work expanded to include commercial video production, copy writing, and video editing in New Mexico as the owner of High Fire Productions.

She co-produces Open Show San Diego for the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. She co-founded the photographers’ group, Snowcreek Collaborative in 2016 and founded Strong Strong Women, an artists critique, in 2018.

 

Public Art Installation:

North Park Garage Exterior Panel Design; San Diego, California, 2019-2029

Selected Exhibitions:

Tularosa House Gallery; Womxn by Womxn group exhibition, San Diego 2020

The Frame Maker Gallery; Strong Strong Women group exhibition, San Diego CA, 2019

Davis Orton Gallery; 5th Annual Exhibition, 2019, juror: Paula Tognarelli

The Photographer’s Eye Collective; Woman/Self, two-person exhibition, Escondido, CA, 2019

Art of Change; California rotating exhibition, Climate Science Alliance, 2018 – present

In the In-Between; online magazine, Now You Don’t: Photography and Extinction, 2018 juror: Stephanie Amon

Center for Fine Art Photography; Ft. Collins, Colorado, Center Forward, 2018, jurors Hamidah Glasgow and Kris Graves

Los Angeles Center for Photography; Expanding Boundaries, 2018, juror scott b. davis

Photoplace Gallery; Middlebury, Vermont, Myths, Legends, and Dreams, 2018, juror Amy Holmes-George

Center for Fine Art Photography; Photography as Response, 2017, Directors Honorable Mention, juror Christy Havrenek,

La Jolla Athenaeum; La Jolla, California, Juried Exhibitions, 2015, 2017


Yearning to Breathe Free | Allan Mestel

Yearning to Breathe Free ©Allan Mestel

The candidacy of Donald Trump, from its inception, placed immigration at the forefront of its messaging. The very first speech he gave in June 2016 after imperiously descending the golden escalator at Trump Tower characterized Mexicans as criminals, rapists and murderers.

Since then his administration has waged a determined war on the value of diversity and inclusion espoused in the oft-quoted words of Emma Lazarus’s 1883 poem The New Colossus.

One of the fronts of this battle has been the concept of asylum. In 1948, Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thought to be the foundation of the international human rights movement, guaranteed persons the right to seek asylum from persecution in their home countries. Current US policy denies asylum seekers on the southern border the right to remain on US soil to adjudicate their claims, but instead forces them back to Mexico to wait out the process in the most primitive and arduous conditions. The official narrative behind these Migrant Protection Protocols (or ‘Remain in Mexico’ as it is commonly known) is that these asylum seekers are primarily adult criminals and undesirables with fraudulent claims whose goal is to disappear into the country once released. In February 2020 I spent five days in a migrant camp in Matamoros Mexico, just across the border from Brownsville Texas, photographing these lives in limbo. What I saw, from my perspective as an immigrant myself from Canada, was a clear counter-narrative to the official position. These images illustrate the resilience and courage with which these people, primarily ordinary families, face the challenge of living in the most extraordinary circumstances. Despite living in tents and temporary shelters with minimal access to clean water and other basic necessities, the camp is a happy place. The resident population has pulled together as a community and help one another make the best of life in the worst of circumstances. These Images are a testament to the notion that immigrants, those who suffer hardship and persecution in order for a chance live under the umbrella of freedom and justice, may possibly value it more than those of us born to it. -Allan Mestel

Allan Mestel has spent 30 years as an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, both in his native Canada, and in the United States. He grew up with photography in his blood with cinematographer father. By the time he was 10 years old he had a darkroom set up in his grandmother’s commandeered hall closet and by the age of 17 was working full time in the film production business.

He has been the recipient of both national and international awards for his photography and his work as a director of TV commercials, films and music videos. His photographs have been exhibited nationwide, from New York to California, and oversees including an exhibit in the British parliament buildings.

In 1992 he was the recipient of the Gold Bessie, awarded for the best TV commercial in Canada.

Since 2015 Allan has owned and operated Allan Mestel Photography, a commercial and portrait photography business in Bradenton, Florida where he lives with his wife and two small children. Outside of his photography business, Allan volunteers hundreds of hours to work for social justice groups of all kinds and in 2017 he co-founded a 501(c)(3) non-profit that assists in providing  re-housing services to the homeless in southwest Florida.


The American Way | Austen Risolvato

This project means so much to me. I call it The American Way. As an American living abroad but grew up in Atlanta and has always been very politically charged and active I struggle with the ever increasing spiral our country is in. I flew the 5,000 miles home in October of 2016 to vote alongside my mother for our first female President of the United States on the very first day of early voting in Atlanta. We voted at 7am in a cool Atlanta Autumn morning with tears of joy running down our cheeks. Finally we would see ourselves reflected in the highest office in the land, we’d have a woman in office who knew what it felt like to have her body policed through legislation largely imposed upon us by men. That didn’t happen, instead the less qualified man got the gig. We face an America that passes laws based on hatred, bigotry, and misogyny. Even more than we have in the last five decades. I wanted to shoot a woman against a flag with physical signs of body policing on her. I wanted the colours to be rich and bold, almost joyful, as a fresh faced 29 year old woman lay across the stars and stripes – but when you looked closer I wanted you to see how grave it is to be a woman in America. To have laws change what you can and cannot do with your own body. Or to have “religious liberties” determine how you mourn a miscarriage or abortion. This has only worsened since the last general election. So-called heartbeat bills seem to be in front of most state legislatures everywhere we look. So I took on a few issues: Title X (since most of the government funding that goes into Planned Parenthood is for anything but abortion – like free mammograms), Roe v Wade, the Hyde Amendment and Hobby Lobby, Partial Bans (particularly the ones that are so short most women don’t know they’re pregnant, and those that require proof that the pregnancy is a health risk to the mother), the Global Gag Rule (stopping healthcare providers around the globe from giving young women who’ve been assaulted the option of abortion), the absurd arcane dress code in the House of Representatives, and laws that require burial and/or jail women post abortion.

 

Austen Risolvato is an American professional photographer and videographer from Atlanta, GA. She has called many places home including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Paris, while currently being based in London, England. Her experience in photography is as broad as her client list; from portraiture, event, wedding, fine art, and travel to editorial. She also studied under, assisted and archived for David LaChapelle in his Los Angeles studio. Among others her clients have included Disney Interactive, Lucasfilm, YouTube, The Clinton Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Lush Cosmetics. She approaches every client differently choosing to focus on what will make the photos best reflect who her clients are how they’d like their experience reflected in the images she creates.

email: austenrisolvato@gmail.com

Phone: 424-281-7225

http://austenrisolvatophotography.squarespace.com/


Seafood Sourcing: Coastal Georgia | Margot Miller

 

Seafood Sourcing: Coastal Georgia ©Margot Miller

 

As we look towards a year of political turmoil that has the potential to change our nation in ways unimaginable, I hope that we can prioritize unity and community. Improvements in technology and communication have created a world fairly independent of local reliance. This globalization has furthered the sense of polarization so familiar in today’s America. In a country so disjointed, fostering support at a local level could ignite a spark with the intention of shifting our cultural patterns as a nation. By reconnecting people to local providers, a trust can be brought back to local communities. These relationships begin to encourage mutual respect, and maybe even camaraderie.

A lack of interest in locally caught and grown food stems from a lack of understanding of our neighbors. In times past, local production was key to survival and the majority of the world was familiar with the processes of producing food. As urban and suburban areas have popped up and grown, generations have come to adulthood without a basic understanding of where their food is derived from. The ability to buy food from all over the world at a supermarket has greatly overshadowed the benefits of a locally sourced diet. Eating locally has direct impacts on public health, local economies, and the environment. More than that, local food has the ability to bring people together.

Savannah is known for a rich culinary culture, but the local docks which were flooded with boats twenty years ago might have just one today. Despite advances in technology, much of the work requires intense labor. John Pelli of University of Georgia’s Marine Extension program described shellfishing as “young man’s work that none of the young men want to do.” John picked and sold clams and oysters for years, leasing private land near Skidaway Island to cultivate the beds. His lease became more expensive than the bounty would cover, and he was forced to find another way to stay on the water. Through Marine Extension, John is working on experiments that will help pass legislation for oyster aquaculture in the state. While Georgia was once a huge player in oyster production, the market has shifted from canned oysters to oysters on the half shell, and Georgia’s naturally oysters grow in clumps rather than individually. This clumping does not affect taste, but in order to be served on the halfshell, oysters must be grown individually. Oyster aquaculture, which has been approved in every other coastal state, could prevent restaurants, grocery stores, and residents from purchasing oysters out of state. John and the Marine Extension team hope that this innovative technology will help to spark the food industry to source locally for improved food quality while also creating a system for food production much closer to home.

It cannot get much closer to home than the Sunbury Crab Company, a restaurant just steps from the front door of the owner’s home. The restaurant came intuitively to Mr. Maley, a crabber, who was simply frustrated that nobody was cooking blue crabs in coastal Georgia. Despite a good deal of harvesting, most of the blue crabs caught here are shipped to Maryland for higher profit. Bernie and Elaine Maley and their two sons have created a business where each family member plays a role in getting the crabs, oysters and fish from the sea to the plate. The Meeks family uses the same model in their Savannah based seafood market. The need for a family model is not simply convenience, but instead a collective understanding of values and a preestablished relationship. Because dependency is already established within a family, the model is readily adopted and quickly trusted by local consumers.

Adopting this model of dependency on a community scale could reintroduce relationships into communities providing a sense of trust and respect between people currently divided.

 

Margot Mulvey Miller is the product of a small farm community in rural New York State. Being raised in a family restaurant provided her an early appreciation for quality local food. With two decades of her mother’s Friday Fish Fry next to a variety of local farmers, Margot’s passion for agricultural communities has shaped the way she interacts with the world. As she left New York to study photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Margot was met with students who had little interest in the source of their food, but were quick to villainize all farmers. This misrepresentation of a world so familiar has led to a four year pursuit of visual truth telling. Margot uses the photographic medium to bring accurate representations of communities into public view.

Follow Nancy McCrary:
Nancy is the Publisher and Founding Editor of South x Southeast photomagazine. She is also the Director of South x Southeast photoworkshops, and Shopkeeper for SxSEshop.com, the online store for original photographic works of art. She resides on her farm in Georgia with 4 hounds and a one-eyed cat where she shoots only pictures.

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