Dr. Deborah Willis, Dr. Kenneth Montague, Sarah Aranha

On October 19 and 20, Aperture’s annual fundraising gala celebrated the range of its publishing program and the field of photography with three honorees: artists Sara Cwynar and Graciela Iturbide, and esteemed collector Dr. Kenneth Montague. Aperture’s executive director, Sarah Meister, observes, “Since 1952, Aperture has attended to ‘professional and amateur, pictorialist and documentarian, journalist and scholar’ (in the words of its founders). Our choice not to have a theme this year honors the democratic breadth of this legacy, bringing forward individuals who mirror the diversity of photography. We thank each of our honorees for the inspiration they bring to our lives and for their trust in Aperture.”

The two-day celebration began with an intimate in-person gathering on October 19 at Selina in Manhattan, which featured an unforgettable musical performance by Queen Esther. The evening also included cocktails from Yola Mezcal and Ghia and hors d’oeuvres, auction artworks installed in collaboration with Artsy, oysters from Oysters XO, a unique photobooth by The Self Portrait Project, and more.

Selina also featured a special installation of prints from the Magnum Square Print Sale in partnership with Aperture, which runs through October 24, 2021. Sarah Meister suggested the theme for this year’s iteration, On the Horizon, and the list of participating artists reflects her curatorial vision: Tina Barney, Mitch Epstein, Luigi Ghirri, Naima Green, Sabine Hornig, Susan Meiselas, Richard Misrach, David Benjamin Sherry, Laurie Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas, Aperture trustees Lyle Ashton Harris and Joel Meyerowitz, and so many more.

The event at Selina was followed by a virtual celebration on October 20, featuring tribute speeches by Farah Al Qasimi, Julie Crooks, Lucy Gallun, Kristen Gresh, Melissa Harris, Pablo Ortíz Monasterio, Legacy Russell, Trevor Schoonmaker, and Jamel Shabazz. The cohosts for this year’s gala were Julie Bédard, Kate Cordsen, Lyle Ashton Harris, Cathy Kaplan, and Lisa Rosenblum.

About the 2021 Honorees

Sara Cwynar’s research-driven and visually complex photographs investigate color and consumer culture. Her images constitute the hallmark of contemporary post­–Pictures Generation work—in which photography is pursued in relation to film, sculpture, digital culture, and the cultural and technological history of image-making. 

Recognized today as one of the greatest living photographers in Latin America, Graciela Iturbide envisions the rich cultural heritage and diversity of life in Mexico, particularly its Indigenous traditions. Known for her lyrical black-and-white photographs, Iturbide has transformed everyday life into poetic and powerful art for more than fifty years.

Dr. Kenneth Montague started the Wedge Collection in 1997 to acquire and exhibit art that engages multifaceted ideas of Black life through the lenses of community, identity, and power. Dr. Montague’s 2021 book, As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic, presents the works of Black artists from Canada, the Caribbean, Great Britain, and the United States, as well as throughout the African continent—serving as a testament to the support provided to artists by collecting and amplifying their work. 

For nearly seventy years, Aperture has championed photography as an essential art addressing urgent issues and questions in culture and society. The gala provides critical sustaining support for Aperture’s publications, educational initiatives, exhibitions, and public programming. If you haven’t already, please consider giving a 100% tax-deductible gift today.