Spotlight – 2017
The American Photography Archives Group (APAG) is 501(c)(3) non-profit that is a resource organization for individuals who own or manage a privately held photography archive. Collectively, the group has dealt with everything from archival supplies and copyright infringement to working with photo dealers. Mary Engel will accept the award for APAG. APAG began when founder and president, Mary Engel, assumed responsibility for the archive of her mother, photographer and filmmaker Ruth Orkin. It was a difficult task, with much to learn about intellectual property rights, conservation and preservation, promotion, and the world of photography galleries and dealers. Mary has gained a wealth of knowledge and know-how, and when her father, photojournalist and filmmaker Morris Engel, passed away in 2005, she inherited his archive as well. Over the years, Mary reached out to others who were in a similar situation and became an informal consultant. As her network of fledgling archive managers grew, so did the demands on her time. She realized that everyone could benefit from each other’s experience, so she started organizing meetings. At first the group was small enough to meet over dinner in a restaurant. Soon, however, more people joined, and a larger, quieter meeting space was needed. Mary arranged for the group to meet at ICP, and the organization has became more structured, holding meetings three or four times a year.
The New England Beacon – 2017
Paul Messier is a photograph conservator working at Yale and in private practice in Boston. He is the founder and Pritzker Director of the Lens Media Lab at Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. Established in 2015, the focus of the LML is the creation, dissemination, and interpretation of large datasets derived from museum and reference collections of artist materials. Notable among these is the LML’s collection of historic photographic papers which is the largest of its kind in the world and was assembled by Paul over the course of decades. Paul’s Boston-based private conservation practice was founded in 1994. The practice serves collectors, galleries, auctions houses as well as public institutions included leading museums, libraries, and archives worldwide. This practice has served as a training platform for numerous pre- and post-graduate interns all of whom have filled photograph conservation positions within prestigious cultural intuitions, including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives. Paul has published widely, holds two patents covering innovative techniques for the characterization of cultural materials, served elected terms to the Board of Directors of the American Institute for Conservation, and recently completed a multiyear Mellon-funded initiative to establish a department of photograph conservation at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Melissa Banta is Projects Curator at the Weissman Preservation Center, Harvard Library, where she works to preserve, exhibit, and publish photograph collections throughout Harvard’s museums, libraries, and archives. Ms. Banta was formerly Director of the Photographic Archives at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard. She also serves as consulting curator at Baker Library, Harvard Business School and at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Her exhibitions and publications include From Site to Sight: Anthropology, Photography, and the Power of Imagery; A Timely Encounter: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Japan; The Invention of Photography and Its Impact on Learning; A Curious and Ingenious Art: Reflections on Daguerreotypes at Harvard; and At the Intersection of Science and Art: Edwin H. Land and the Polaroid Collection, The Formative Years.
Lifetime – 2017
Elizabeth Avedon is an independent curator and writer, photography book and exhibition designer. She is a sought after consultant for photographers; editing, sequencing, and advising towards their exhibition, book, and portfolio projects. She is the former Director of Photo-Eye Gallery, Santa Fe; Creative Director for The Gere Foundation; and received numerous awards and recognition for her exhibition design and publishing projects, including the fashion retrospective book and exhibition, “Avedon: 1949–1979” for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, among others; and “Richard Avedon: In the American West” for the Amon Carter Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago; and exhibition designs for the Estate of Diane Arbus, the Menil Collection,Texas and the Leica Gallery, New York. In conjunction with Random House, she co-published the series “Elizabeth Alvedon Editions/Vintage Contemporary Artists”, working with distinguished art critics such as Donald Kuspit and Peter Schjeldahl, and contemporary artists Francesco Clemente, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg and others.
Sean Perry is a fine-art photographer based in Austin, Texas and New York City. His photographs and books center on architecture, space and light – the ambiance felt within built and temporary environments. Perry currently serves as Associate Professor of Photography at Austin Community College where he founded a mentoring program and lecture series titled, The Picture Review.
A Culture of Legacy Award – 2017
Beuford Smith was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. A self-taught photographer, he began freelancing in the late 1970s. His clients include Black Star, AT&T, Emory University, Merrill Lynch, Avon, and GE. Smith is the founder of Cesaire Photo Agency and a founder and chief photo editor of the Black Photographers Annual (1973-1981). He has taught photography at Cooper Union, Hunter College, and the Brooklyn Museum. Smith served as staff photographer for Emmanuel Baptist Church from 1995-2007. Smith is a former President (1997-2003) and member (1965-2005)and now president emeritus of Kamoinge, Inc. Smith spearheaded the group’s effort to achieve 501(c)3 status and facilitated collecting photos for Kamoinge’s book, The Sweet Breath of Life edited by Frank Stewart. Smith served on the curatorial committee for the Committed to the Image exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 2001. He served on NYFA’s photography panel in 2002. He is also a former Advisory Board member of En Foco, Inc. (2005-2012). Smith received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in 1990 and 2000, a LightWork Artist-in Residence Fellowship in 1999 and an Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship in 1998 among other awards. Smith has collected over 360 photographs in the past 30 years and he is organizing his archives and editing his photographs for a book. Keith DeLellis Gallery represents a selection of Beuford Smith’s photographs.
From a professional base in photography and arts writing, an academic foundation in fine art, the history of photography, American Studies and the perspective of a citizen of the United States, the work of Bill Gaskins explores questions about photography and the portrait in the 21st century. A critical entry point for the viewer is his fascination with the myths of photography and American culture and representations of African American people. His approach to photography as both producer and critical spectator has garnered attention through commissions, artist residencies, grants, public lectures, solo and group exhibitions, exhibition catalogs and books.
As a professor of art, Bill Gaskins has taught at The Ohio State University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Missouri, the College of Art, Media & Technology and the College of Art and Design Theory and History at Parsons School of Design, and the graduate program in Media Studies in The New School for Public Engagement. Presently he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art with a faculty appointment in the American Studies Program at Cornell University.