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Martha Schwendener

[Ben Youseph Nathan, Esther Zeghdda]

(b London, Nov 21, 1869; d Brooklyn, NY, Nov 27, 1933).

American photographer. Born Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan to a German mother and an Algerian father, she immigrated to the United States in 1895. She worked as a milliner in New York before opening a photographic portrait studio in 1897. Her ‘gallery of illustrious Americans’ featured actresses, politicians, and fashionable socialites, including President Theodore Roosevelt, author Edith Wharton, artist William Merritt Chase, and actress Julia Marlowe. Ben-Yusuf also created Pictorialist-inspired artwork like The Odor of Pomegranates (1899; see fig.), an allegory informed by the myth of Persephone and the idea of the pomegranate as a tantalizing but odourless fruit. Ben-Yusuf was included in an exhibition organized by the Linked Ring, Brotherhood of the in London in 1896 and continued to exhibit in the group’s annual exhibitions until 1902. Her photographs were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1898 and at the Camera Club of New York in ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Nairobi, 1958).

Kenyan photographer, multimedia and performance artist, and teacher of Indian descent, active in the USA. DeSouza was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Raised in London from the age of 7, he called his background that of a ‘double colonial history’. DeSouza attended Goldsmiths College in London and the Bath Academy of Art, and although he has worked primarily in photography and as a writer on contemporary art, he has also branched out into performance art, digital painting, and textual and mixed media arts. He moved to the USA in 1992 and in 2012 became of Head of Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

The primary themes in deSouza’s work are those of colonial encounter, seen in Indigena/Assimilado (1998), a photographic series of migrant workers in Los Angeles; migration, as explored in Threshold (1996–8), his early photographic series of airports empty of people; exile, which he explored in ...

Article

Sarah Urist Green

revised by Julia Detchon

(b Santiago, Chile, Feb 5, 1956).

Chilean architect, public interventionist, installation artist, photographer, and filmmaker, active in the USA. He first studied architecture at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, then filmmaking at the Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano de Cultura, Santiago, concluding in 1981. Throughout his career, Jaar’s works have taken many forms in order to address global themes of injustice and illuminate structures of power. In over fifty projects he termed “public interventions,” Jaar conducted extensive research around the world to create site-specific works that reflect political and social realities near and far from his sites of exhibition. He created works—in gallery spaces and in public, often engaging spectator involvement—that present images critically and confront the social and political interests they serve.

Jaar’s first public intervention was Studies on Happiness (1979–1981), a three-year series of performances and exhibitions in which he asked the question, “Are you happy?” of people in the streets of Santiago. Inspired by ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Kaduna, Aug 15, 1967).

Nigerian multimedia artist, active in the USA. Tuggar studied in London before receiving her BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. She completed her MFA at Yale University. Tuggar’s work has been seen as central to the ‘Afro-Futurist’ style and theoretical impulse that gained currency in the mid-1990s as well as to a revitalized and globalized feminist discourse. Afro-futurism denotes the use of the historical past in conjunction with technological innovation to produce aesthetic explorations of the future, fantasy, and possibility for African cultures writ large.

Tuggar is best known for her digitally manipulated and printed collages of her own photographs with found images and text. Often she combined older, sometimes historical images with contemporary scenes and people, conflating past and present and thereby constructing the fantasy aspect of her work. In other instances disparate global spaces converge (Nigeria, the cultural ‘West’, the Middle East), setting up a contemporary investigation of colonialism and post-colonial global realities....

Article

Chika Okeke

(b Lagos, 1965).

Nigerian photographer, painter and installation artist , active in the USA. He attended Hunter College, City University of New York. In the 1980s he worked mainly as a painter but also collaborated with such New York artists as Carrie May Weems and Lyle Ashton Harris. In 1993 he developed his photographic work, dealing with issues of representation and urban life, particularly race, gender and sexual identity. His self-portraits, in which he wears women’s cosmetics, comment on assumptions about what constitutes gender identity, as in Woman in Egyptian Art (1996). They also reference the costume and make-up of Igbo ‘female’ masquerades, which are normally danced by men ( see Igbo §2 ). He also uses self-portraiture to criticize American culture. In his Cover Girl series (1994–9), for instance, he designed mock magazine covers for Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Condé Naste Traveller, making himself the cover girl. The ‘articles’ in these imaginary journals frequently address the West’s relation to Africa, for example, ‘Hysteria Over the Death of the Noble Savage’. Thus the ...

Article

Sarah Kate Gillespie

(b Trenton, NJ, 1820/21; d Monrovia, June 7, 1875).

American photographer, active also in Liberia. One of the few African American daguerreotypists whose career has been documented by modern scholars, Washington was born in Trenton, NJ, as the son of a former slave. He became interested in the abolitionist movement at an early age, and worked hard to achieve an education, first studying at the Oneida Institute and later at Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, NH. Washington attended Dartmouth College in 1843 and learned daguerreotyping during his freshman year as a way to help pay for his schooling. He left Dartmouth in 1844 and moved to Hartford, CT, where he opened one of the city’s first daguerreotype studios two years later. By the early 1850s Washington was one of the premiere daguerreotypists in Hartford, catering to a broad and fairly élite clientele. One of his best-known portraits from this period dates from 1846–7, and is the earliest surviving photograph of abolitionist John Brown (daguerreotype; Washington, DC, N. P. G.). Brown is pictured holding a flag, possibly for the ‘Subterranean Pass Way’ (Brown’s version of the underground railroad), in one hand; the other hand raised as if taking a pledge. Despite Washington’s success, he remained wary of race relations in the United States, unconvinced that emancipation would lead to improved circumstances for blacks living in the United States. Closing his studio in Hartford, Washington immigrated to Liberia with his wife and two children in ...