ART FOR AUGUST PROJECT
I remember almost every time I have been called to do what I do. I remember sinking to my knees against a wall at LAX after a call that would send me around the world. I remember getting a call from Vogue (early Anna Wintour reign) the first morning I arrived in Santa Monica just as the breakfast room was starting to settle down from an earthquake. I remember every single time I got that vote of confidence knowing that confidence was all I had. Maybe some talent. Maybe some history. But at the moment I get a call for a new assignment I still have that feeling that it is all a big leap of faith.
When Demeatria Boccelli called me several weeks ago it was the same thing. @Demeatriastyle is not only one of the most stylish women in Pittsburgh, she is a top local fashion doyenne here in my hometown. Our last project was photographing young black girls for a documentary on the Adultification of young black girls for WQED. The pictures were about who these girls really are rather than how they are perceived to be out in the world. This call was to do portraits of a group of artists who were all given grants by the @AugustWilsonHouse to produce work inspired by August Wilson. We shot in this incredible room at the Energy Innovation Center which is an old high school in the Hill District that has been transformed into a super high tech energy learning center. We shot in a room with tons of windows and incredible views. Each artist came to the room with their work wrapped up. I photographed the unwrapping. I photographed each artist with their work. I photographed their hands. Then I photographed their faces. I often think that each stranger who enters my life gives an incredible gift, and the gift is them. On this assignment the gifts were unwrapped before my eyes. After taking pictures we were no longer strangers.
What happened next is the part that blew me away. Isabelle Strollo edited video interviews on each artist, animating the stills to go with Joe Seamans video. Students designed graphics with the portraits for the catalog and the show signage. Fantasy Zellars created the virtual museum - all the portraits are from the work I did that one afternoon at the Energy Innovation Center. Collectively we were all able to share what makes this group of artists so special and allows us to keep August Wilson’s legacy alive. That is what we do in Pittsburgh. We honor the greats that have come from this town by using their work as springboards for our own creativity. That way the soil always remains fertile.