THE LEAGUE OF PEACE AND POWER
New Photographs by Rebecca Soderholm
23 October 2014 - 6 November 2014
On view at Drew University from 24 March 2015 - 24 April 2015
511 Gallery is pleased to present a preview of Rebecca Soderholm’s new series of color photographs, The League of Peace and Power, taken during the past three years, of people, many of them young children, who live in the upstate towns of New York State (with one exception), the area in which the artist was raised. For the most part these scenes occur in tiny villages, with names we’ve never heard before: Hadley, Fort Plain, Canajoharie, their populations ranging from 750 to 3,664. Ogdensburg, an actual city, lies just across from Canada, and with a population of 11,000 seems to tower over the other places in Soderholm’s story.
Soderholm’s perceptive and penetrating exploration of these upstaters’ lives, reveals a shared uniformity. Though their towns are separated from each other by miles, railroad tracks, rivers, and highways, and are thus to a degree hugely marginalized, Soderholm’s subjects are shown to have an amazing sameness of situations and experiences, and yet an almost universalized longing for peace and the absence of danger. The League of Peace and Power captures scenes of both.
Two young boys shirtless and sitting on a rock on a hot summer day are, we sense, smoking secretly, but they do not even look the photographer’s way; a young mother reading a bedtime story to her child in their trailer home, with the door wide open, but without evidence of their being aware of anything beyond the storybook and each other; and a young woman in bare feet standing on an Igloo cooler hanging onto the post of a newly laid doorway and steps, clearly the aftermath of the flood that rocked the Mohawk Valley two years ago and destroyed homes and public buildings…. These are images of differing peoples, perhaps even from differing backgrounds, but living with similar dangers and powers that are beyond their control.
Rebecca Soderholm is – to an extent that we feel is palpable – both in these scenes but also an outside observer of them. As a photographer, she makes known to her subjects her intention and her equipment, and yet they do not seem to notice that she is there.
One photograph in the series that would appear to stand out from the others is Couple, Naples, Italy, which Soderholm shot while a Carol and Sol Lewitt resident artist in Praiano. In this beach scene, a child of about ten, topless and still with “baby fat” holding a cup of water or soda, stares intensely at a couple kissing and locked in an embrace. Completely absorbed by what she is watching, she seems neither dismayed nor simply curious. She looks studious, in control, and despite her vulnerable age, quite powerful.
Rebecca Soderholm is an emerging artist whose work has begun to receive major attention and acclaim. In the past year, she has seen two of her photographs bought into the permanent collection of Yale University Art Gallery. In 2013, the artist was commissioned to create a large installation at Syracuse University’s Warehouse Gallery, curated by Anja Chavez. This past summer saw Soderholm as a Meredith S. Moody Residency artist at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs and working and exhibiting in a residency at the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts in Ithaca, New York. The artist teaches at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where she will have a solo exhibition of The League of Peace and Power in March, 2015. This preview at 511 Gallery is a private viewing of that work.
For more information please contact 511 Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.255.2885