Black Future Month // 2-17-11 // Ian Davis, Photographer
Posted on February 17, 2011
So, here’s the honesty. I started this #blackfuture thing on a whim. I thought it’d be a good idea, hoped 3-4 folks would come on a regular basis, and we’d have a private little party of 5 on my under-grown blog. But people seem to like it, and smart people I love and respect visit daily. That ups the pressure considerably. Stake is high, as they say. Every night I spend time pondering who is fresh enough to present to you, reader. I don’t want to destroy your trust in me. I pray that you are moved and inspired. I value who you are and what you do, and want your daily peek at this blog to compel you to keep on moving. So, I stress a little, crossing middle finger over index hoping I don’t eff this up.
Today, though, I’m confident that I’ve got heat. So far, I’ve only written up one photographer, and that is a darned shame. So, in addition to being confident I’m also proud to feature the work of Oakland born photographer, Ian Davis.
Usually I read the featured artist’s bio, paraphrase and add my own stank to it, but it turns out, in addition to being a phenomenal musician (Check for Bracy and I.D. on beats and rhymes) and breathtaking photographer, Ian’s a skilled writer. Here’s what he wrote about himself:
I am a photographer based out of the Bay Area. A product of a broken home. Raised by my father, a musician and studio engineer, I developed a love for music at an early age. By high school I began producing music, following in his foot steps. During this time a black & white photography class sparked my interest. I entered the class with my father’s Pentax K1000 camera and a 50mm lens. I had no sense of technique or knowledge in the art, I just wanted to shoot anything I could. I had no intentions of wanting to be the “next” anybody, only to shoot sparked my interest. After a long hiatus, I found myself back to into the photo world ready to rediscover my love for it. Since then, some would say I’m an expert. Some might say I’m a “pro”. Some might say I’m overrated. But none of that matters to me. I believe in staying humble and not believing the hype. Photography for me is more than just art. It has given me the opportunity to create memories for myself and others. For that, I feel I have no choice other than to be grateful for its existence.
Here’s another bit of honesty. I find it hard to get to know Ian. We share a close circle of friends, but he’s quiet and I’m guarded. So we spend a lot of time nodding at each other. The first time I saw one of his photos I gasped aloud. I felt I finally understood a piece of him. I find Ian’s work to be fiery, thoughtful, humble, forceful without being over imposing, and honest. My mom hates being in photos because she says they steal the soul. But I know many of the subjects of his photos, and Ian manages to capture the truest bits of their beings, without any thievery. Their souls are expanded by virtue of his lens. And mine is by virtue of my sight. I know yours will be too. I suggest you view in full screen mode, if your boss isn’t peeking over your shoulder.
Now that you’ve seen Ian’s work, I’d like to present another photographer that paved the way for folks like Mr. Davis. Most of the folks I present in this part of the blog are ancestors, but in the interest of continuity, I want to share the work of a living legend, and bring more certified, guaranteed heat. Carrie Mae Weems is a photographer, video artist and cultural critic. Holland Cotter, of the New York Times write “Weems has long been one of our most effective visual and verbal rhetoricians. When she tackles complex subjects in complex ways, the results are…deeply stirring.” Perhaps best known for her work in black and white and portraiture, her art has been exhibited in museums from The Whitney, to MoMA to the Smithsonian Institute. My favorite of her work is from her Kitchen Table Series, in which she is both artist and subject.
In the interest of full disclosure, since honesty seems to be the hallmark of this post’s creed, Carrie Mae is a close friend of our family. She lived in Oakland up until the time I was 6 or 7 and was one of the first fine artists I knew that made a living solely on her creativity. She helped to craft a blueprint for success for visual artists of color, using photography and silhouette to navigate the often exclusionary high art world. I celebrate her as a trailblazer that made history and a practitioner that will make the future. Check her website here.
Thickwit celebrates the #blackfuture of photography with Ian Davis and Carrie Mae Weems.