December 13 – March 31, 2024
Opening Reception – December 16th, 4pm
“A friend once commented about my photographs in that I take the hibrow and the lobrow, put them in a blender and see what comes out. If the “American Dream” still exists at all, it presents itself as a fractured dissonance. This is what I seek. The late Chris Killip once told me that our idea of what Ireland looked like came from the brightly hand colored postcards we saw of it. As a youngster, I occupied myself with accordion postcards of a sprightly hand colored America and a Viewmaster. The Viewmaster was a device that enables the viewer to consider two versions of the same image creating a 3-D effect. Vestiges of my exposure to this type of imagery still manifest themselves in some of my work. A great part of my seventy-two years of flippancy and truancy were accompanied by a camera.
Crista Dix asked me to consider the archives of Arthur Griffin, choose eight images of his work and to then create a “call and response” with eight of my own. I am old enough to remember the downtown Boston he captured and recognize other places that Mr. Griffin committed to film. His photographs of Ted Williams are among the most revered in the iconography of sports. This project engaged me with history, photography and a sense of “then and now,’ all aspects of my work that I cherish.” – Bill Chapman
About Bill Chapman
“You’re an American. You know what to do.” -Dr. Ernest Withers
A simple phrase uttered by his mentor describes Bill Chapman’s photography more concisely than the extensive commentary produced over the years about the man and his work. At a very early age, Chapman’s interests in politics, civil rights, baseball and music were tied to a passion for photography. Over the years he has explored each topic — and much more — through both film and digital imagery.
Chapman has traveled throughout America to discover “the cruel radiance of what is,” as Walker Evans phrased it. His photographs have been described as “sardonic but good natured.” America has experienced a daunting number of peaks and valleys in the treatment of its citizenry and the way it represents itself within its own borders. Chapman set out to both befriend and embrace that America through his photographs.
Bill Chapman’s work has been exhibited at The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Gallery Kayafas, Harvard University, The Griffin Museum and many other locations. His images have been published in a wide variety of books, including Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston by Howard Bryant (Beacon Press, 2003), Negro League Baseball by Ernest C. Withers (Harry N. Abrams, 2005), Bluff City by Preston Lauterbach (W.W. Norton & Co., 2019) Rickwood Field: A Century in America’s Oldest Ballpark by Allen Barra (W.W. Norton & Co., 2010). Many publications have also featured Chapman’s images, including: The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Preservation Magazine, University of Budapest, Art New England and ESPN Magazine.