Featuring work by Charles Harbutt, Joan Liftin, Jeff Jacobson, Naho Kubota, Suzanne Opton, Rebecca Norris Webb, Sylvia Plachy, Alex Webb, and Lucille Fornasieri Gold.
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
—Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem of the same name, Song of Myself presents a vision of our collective existence and the connections between life and death, war and peace, knowledge and ignorance, joy and pain, belief and disbelief. Given the first verse of the poem, artists Charles Harbutt, Joan Liftin, Jeff Jacobson, Naho Kubota, Suzanne Opton, Rebecca Norris Webb, Sylvia Plachy, Alex Webb, and Lucille Fornisieri Gold selected their own works in visual response. Both individually and as a collective, Song of Myself allows us to see our value in this world and to consider the impact of action and inaction as a means to greater consciousness.
About the artists:
Charles Harbutt is a photographer and professor at Parsons School of Design. His pictures have been widely collected and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Corcoran Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, La Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. He is the author of Progreso (Archive Pictures), Travelog (MIT Press), and Cuba Libre 1959 (Trolley Press). For the first twenty years of his photographic life, Harbutt was a photojournalist, working mostly through Magnum Photos (of which he was twice president) for magazines in Europe, Japan, and the United States. Since 1980, he has pursued more personal interests—the boundaries of journalism into the realm of the everyday as well as the exceptional. He is represented by the Laurence Miller Gallery. The photographs exhibited in Song of Myself are from his book Progreso (Archive Pictures).
Joan Liftin was the chief photographer and editor for UNICEF, the director and editor of the Magnum Photos Library, a founding member of Archive Pictures, and the director of the documentary program at the International Center of Photography. Her work is in the collections of Tucson’s Center for Creative Photography, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Akron Art Museum, and Savannah’s Telfair Museum. Liftin is the author of Drive-ins (Trolley Press) and Local Heroes (Norton).
Jeff Jacobson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1946. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1968, and from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, in 1971. While practicing as an ACLU lawyer in the American South in the early 70s, Jacobson became interested in photographing Southern jails and rural areas. After completing a workshop at Apeiron with Charles Harbutt in 1974, Jacobson quit his law practice to devote his energy to photography. Jacobson joined Magnum Photos in 1978, and in 1981 left to start Archive Pictures. He is the author of My Fellow Americans (University of New Mexico Press) and has photographed for The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Time, Geo, Stern, and Life. His work has been exhibited at or is in the collections of museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The International Center of Photography, The Walker Arts Center, and The Armand Hammer Museum. Jacobson now lives in Mt. Tremper, a Catskills hamlet about two hours north of New York. The photographs exhibited in Song of Myself are from his book Melting Point (Nazraeli Print).
Naho Kubota received her BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts. She also studied sculpture at Alfred University and has exhibited in the Hamzone Gallery in Connecticut and in New York City at the Ise Cultural Foundation, the SVA West Side Gallery, and the About Glamour Gallery. Kubota has been published in Working Class magazine, Someone’s Garden magazine, Cool, and CMYK Magazine.
Suzanne Opton’s photographs have been widely exhibited in the United States and abroad. Her work is in the collections of the Austin Museum of Art, La Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Portland Art Museum, and the Musée de l'Eysée, Lausanne. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Fledgling Fund. Opton’s recent series, Soldier, was first presented in Syracuse and Buffalo, where the images appeared outside the gallery as billboards, bus shelter ads, and banners. The Soldier photographs will be presented as a solo exhibition at the Musée de l'Eysée, in Lausanne in September 2007. She lives in New York and teaches at the International Center of Photography.
Rebecca Norris Webb was born in Rushville, Indiana, and at 16 she moved to Hot Springs, South Dakota. Originally a poet and a journalist, she began photographing in 1988. Webb had her first solo exhibition in New York City at Ricco Maresca Gallery in 2006, the same year her first book, The Glass Between Us (Channel Photographics), was published. Her series, which uses text and images to explore the complicated relationship between people and animals in cities, has also been included in several group exhibitions, including, Why Look at Animals? at the George Eastman House. Her project was awarded sponsorship by the Blue Earth Alliance. Currently, she's working on a series of photographs in the American West called, My Dakota. The photographs exhibited in Song of Myself are from her book The Glass Between US (Channel Photographics), courtesy Ricco Maresca Gallery.
Sylvia Plachy was born in Budapest and now lives in New York City. Her photographs and photo essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Time, Fortune, Art Forum, Granta, Grand Street, People, New York Magazine, and the Village Voice. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and the recipient of a Lucie Award. She has had one-person shows in the Whitney Museum of American Art, Philip Morris, the Queens Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and in galleries in New York, Budapest, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Manchester, Arles, Madrid, Perpignan, and Pingyau. She is the author of Signs and Relics (Monacelli) and Red Light (powerHouse Books. Her book, Unguided Tour (Aperture), won the Infinity award for best publication in 1990. Self Portrait With Cows Going Home (Aperture), a personal history of Eastern Europe with photographs, won the Golden Light Award for best book. And her latest, Goings On About Town (Aperture), photographs taken for The New Yorker, is scheduled for a fall release.
Alex Webb, a member of Magnum Photos since 1976, has published several books, including Hot Light/Half Made Worlds, Under a Grudging Sun, and Crossings: Photographs from the U.S. Mexican Border, and Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names. He has worked for major publications including National Geographic, Life, The New York Times Magazine, GEO, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Hasselblad Foundation Grant, and the Leica Medal of Excellence. Webb’s work is shown by Hasted Hunt in New York City and has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and Europe in museums such as the International Center of Photography, the High Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.
Lucille Fornisieri Gold received her first camera at 39, just after the birth of her third child. She then studied under Ken Heyman and Gary Winogrand. She is a street photographer fascinated by the American vernacular and the innocent folk culture born of the bits and pieces that immigrants have brought to these shores. America does not have a classical background, she says. It is a conglomerate of diverse cultures and customs from different times and many different places. “When these cultures come together they mix and mutate, forming a national taste, a transnational tang. I document this ever-evolving ethos and the richness of its interactions.”