Sikkema Jenkins & Co. presents a solo exhibition of new photographs by Deana Lawson, the artist’s first with the gallery.
Deana Lawson’s photographic portraits are the product of a prolonged and singular journey. The images document studied and methodically staged interactions that blur the desires and intentions of the photographer and the individual in front of her camera. Lawson’s intentions are situated in an “I AM space” –insisting that her subjects’ identities supersede material limitations and interface with higher planes of value systems.
The large-scale photographs presented here are the result of travels to South Carolina, Swaziland, Jamaica, and Soweto, South Africa; as well as around the artist’s own Brooklyn neighborhood. Presented together, they represent a fragmented account of the African diaspora and African-American identities, which Lawson sees as an acknowledgement of divine lineage and destiny.
In this exhibition, Lawson also continues her use of appropriated imagery. Found photographs – often timeworn snapshots of family and friends – are re-presented in the gallery space, assuming new significance. In Nation (2018), Lawson uses an entirely different kind of appropriated image: a photo of George Washington’s dentures is tucked into the corner of the gold-leaf frame.
Born in Rochester, New York in 1979, Deana Lawson received a BFA from Penn State in 2001 and a MFA in Photography from RISD in 2004. Her work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2017) and Art Institute Chicago (2015), and was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Her forthcoming solo exhibition, Forum 80: Deana Lawson, will be on view at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh from March 15 through July 15.
Deana Lawson’s first monograph, with an essay by Zadie Smith and an interview by Arthur Jafa, will be published by Aperture in September 2018.
Lawson currently teaches photography at Princeton University and lives in Brooklyn.