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What Makes a Family?

An exhibition explores how black photographers portray their communities and kin.

01_John-Edmonds-American-Gods-2017

John Edmonds, American Gods, 2017. Courtesy the artist

02_LaToya-Ruby-Frazier-Momme-2008

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Momme, 2008. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York

03_Deana-Lawson

Deana Lawson, Mohawk Correctional Facility: Jazmin & Family, 2013 Courtesy the Columbus Museum of Art

04_Weems-Family-Pictures

Carrie Mae Weems, from the series Family Pictures and Stories, 1981–82. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

05_Lyle-Ashton-_CROP

Lyle Ashton Harris, Mother and Sons II, 1994. Courtesy the artist and Salon 94, New York

06_Ming-Smith-Auntie-Esther-1993

Ming Smith, Auntie Esther, Pittsburgh, ca. 1993, from the series August Wilson. Courtesy the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery, New York

When Roy DeCarava set out in mid-twentieth century Harlem to undertake what would become the landmark photobook The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955), he employed photography as “a creative expression to meditate on everyday life and family,” says Drew Sawyer, head of exhibitions and curator of photography at the Columbus Museum of Art. The artists featured in the exhibition Family Pictures–LaToya Ruby Frazier, Deana Lawson, Carrie Mae Weems, John Edmonds, and Gordon Parks among them–work in a similar vein, pushing against traditional notions of documentary photography in radical and intimate depictions of domestic life.

Family Pictures is on view at the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio through May 20, 2018

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