Southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois may not be the first states that spring to mind when discussing America’s endemic racism, but in a surreal and haunting series of images, photographer Wendel White captures the lingering remnants of a segregated past in the northern regions that bordered the southern slave states. Schools for the Colored, a body of work that developed from White’s ongoing project Small Towns, Black Lives, documents the buildings and landscapes of the segregated U.S. educational system in the decades before the civil rights movement. In his stark black-and-white imagery of both longstanding structures and crumbling and long-since-demolished buildings, White obscures the details of the surroundings: street scenes, trees, and other elements near the schools vanish into a hazy mantle of white. In cases where the structures no longer stand, White inserts silhouettes of the schoolhouses that formerly occupied the sites. White’s obscuring of the surroundings in these works was inspired by sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois’ memory of attending school as a youth, recounted in his 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk: “I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil.”
Schools for the Colored is one of two exhibitions hosted by Photo-eye Bookstore (376 Garcia St.) in conjunction with Review Santa Fe, the annual festival and conference on photography sponsored by Center — a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of the photographic arts and to the professional development of photographers — scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2, to Sunday, Nov. 6.
White is a recipient of Center’s Project Launch Juror’s Choice award, along with Álvaro Laiz for his series The Hunter, and Laura Morton for her project Wild West Tech. The Project Launch Grant — awarded for outstanding documentary projects or fine art series, and one of Center’s most prestigious awards, — went to Russian photographer Elena Anosova for Section, an intimate look at the lives of incarcerated women in Russia. Anosova’s work is on exhibit in a Project Grant Winners Exhibition at Photo-eye’s main gallery (541 S. Guadalupe St.). The exhibit is a two-person show that includes photographs from Megan E. Doherty’s black-and-white series Back of the Yards. Doherty is the winner of Center’s major Project Development Grant, awarded to fund in-progress fine art, documentary, or photojournalistic projects.
Center, founded in 1994, has traditionally scheduled Review Santa Fe in June, until the photo festival was moved to November this year. According to Center’s executive director Laura Pressley, the move is intended to ease the travel, accommodation, and other expenses of the participants. “They’re investing a lot in coming out here, putting together their portfolios and creating marketing materials,” Pressley said. The timing gives Center an opportunity to advance the festival as a destination during the off-season, when it isn’t competing with the local markets, festivals, and art fairs that dominate the summer months. “We wanted to be able to highlight this international photo festival and get more locals, more Santa Feans, to participate, to come attend the events and the workshops,” she said. “It also offers Santa Fe another opportunity for tourism, to get more people staying in the hotel rooms and purchasing art in the off-season. Lastly, it was better for us administratively in that it created space so we were able to initiate expansion of a collaborative program called PhotoSummer.” A joint effort by Center, 516 Arts in Albuquerque, and the University of New Mexico Art Museum, PhotoSummer highlights and promotes New Mexico photographic exhibitions and events throughout the season.
Review Santa Fe is a major juried portfolio review that brings the best in international photography to the city. On Nov. 2, the photo festival beginswith workshops designed to help prepare photographers for the review process. The portfolio reviews begin in earnest on Friday, Nov. 4. For 2016, Center enlisted more than 40 reviewers, professionals in their fields, to advise emerging and mid-career photographers — a list that includes Christie Davis, the program director for Contemporary Art and Public Programs at the Lannan Foundation; Mary Anne Redding, curator of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone, North Carolina; and UNM Art Museum director Arif Khan. The list of participating photographers, which numbers one hundred, includes Louisville-based Laura Skinner, whose Experimental series is based on grade-school science experiments; Amsterdam-based photographer Jordi Huisman, who documented the backs of buildings in cities across Europe for his Rear Window project; Melbourne-based Nicola Dracoulis, who is showing the portrait series Represent: African Australia, an emerging generation; and Boston-based Emily Sheffer, who is showing The Old World, a series of enigmatic and intimate domestic images. The photo presentations are free to the public from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 4 All one hundred photographers show their projects during the event, which takes place in the Farmers Market Pavilion (1607 Paseo de Peralta).
Center honors American documentary photographer Susan Meiselas — who made a name for herself covering human rights issues in Latin America in the 1970s — at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at a dinner and reception that includes a presentation by Meiselas. Reservations are required to attend the dinner; individual tickets ($150) can be purchased through Center’s website. A $75 festival pass ($55 for students) includes access to the opening reception at the Hotel Santa Fe (7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3), as well as artist talks, VIP portfolio viewings, and other events. The full schedule, dinner tickets, and the festival pass are available at www.visitcenter.org. All events take place at The Hotel Santa Fe, unless otherwise noted. ◀