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Buffalo State photo exhibition tackles race, identity, sense of place


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Artist Jared Thorne likes to find the identity of a place through his camera lens. Throughout his career, he’s captured the essence of race relations in Cape Town, South Africa; housing projects in New York City and San Francisco; the desperation of residents across Ohio who have seen their jobs dry up.

Thorne, who is an assistant professor in the Ohio State University Art Department, shared many of these photographs with the Buffalo State community on November 6 in his talk “Every Day Contains All of History” in Upton Hall.

Thorne’s lecture kicks off the photography exhibition In Place of Self that opened November 7 in the Czurles-Nelson Gallery. His work joins that of professional artists Patrice Aphrodite Helmar, S. Billie Mandle, and Aaron Turner that Yola Monakhov Stockton, assistant professor of photography, is curating. It runs through November 29 and is free and open to the public 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The artists’ work unfolds across a range of geographies, including night-time Juneau, Alaska; the familial landscape of the Arkansas delta; outside Planned Parenthood clinics; in a Baltimore museum of African American history; and at a refugee center in Buffalo, where migrants await safe passage to Canada.

“I think all artwork is political; mine is more overtly political,” said Thorne who keeps race and oppression of all sorts in mind when creating his primarily black and white photographs that are nuanced, yet emotional. “There always should be a sense of outrage.”

Monakhov Stockton said she chose these particular artists for this exhibit to highlight the diversity of experiences represented in contemporary photography and to explore how documentary practice and storytelling has expanded across a range of personal and filmic approaches.

“The artists work in studio and darkroom settings, through time-based media and serial investigation,” she said. “Their practices explore poetry and migration, blackness as metaphor, the relationship between African and African American identities, abstraction and observation, queerness and race, family and community, and the poetics of seeing,” Monakhov Stockton said.

Thorne, who holds a master’s of fine arts degree from Columbia University and formerly worked for CNN making documentaries, said he feels most alive when taking photographs.

“The best thing art can do is make us ask questions,” he said.

For more information on the exhibition, visit czurlesnelsongallery.buffalostate.edu/.

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