Tommaso Corvi-Mora presents a solo exhibition of American artist Myra Greene, her first outside the US. The exhibition includes work from 2002 to the present day, offering an overview of the artist’s output to date.
Most of Myra Greene’s work is either autobiographical or based on self–portraiture. The works from the earliest series in the exhibition, produced between 2002 and 2004, take the form of inkjet prints on watercolour paper. The prints are made from scans of Polaroid photographs of details of the artist’s body, altered with the use of household chemicals. Due to the unstable nature of the finished Polaroid, the inkjet prints capture a moment in the short life of the photograph, itself a frozen instant. The transient and fragile quality of the support resonates with the subject matter of the image: the artist framing her own body.
“Character Recognition”, the second series of photographs, produced in 2006-2007, consists of ambrotypes on black glass. Ambrotypes were popular between 1850 and 1860, pre-dating Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” (1863). The images in “Character Recognition”, first conceived in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005, are of close-ups of the artist’s face that mix this historic photographic process with a contemporary approach to image making and examine how we look at the photographed black body.
In “My White Friends” (2007-2012) the artist turned her gaze away from her own body and photographed her white friends. The main questions that these images ask are: “How do people think about whiteness in the context of a photograph? Do gesture and environment allude to a lived truth, a performance by the sitter, or a stereotype?”
In the most recent body of work, “Undertone”, the artist returned to the creation of ambrotypes, this time utilizing stained glass as support. The images are utterly transformed by the different colours of the glass itself, and vary according to the colour they are set against. This series touches upon themes central in other works as well: the shifting, unstable nature of photography and how our understanding of colour is completely dependent on its context, both literally and in terms of race.
Myra Greene uses a diverse artistic practice to explore representations of race. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City and The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C, among others. She has exhibited widely throughout the US including the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, and SculptureCenter in New York City. Myra Greene was born in New York City and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is an Associate Professor of Photography at Spelman College.Myra Greene, Untitled (Ref. #52) from Character Recognition, 2006-2007. Black glass ambrotypes 7.6 x 9.7 cm, 3 x 3 4/5 inches