Family Portraits (NSFW)

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Although she is not related to them by blood—in fact, they are nearly all strangers—the pictures are remarkably intimate. Deana Lawson composes almost every element, often sketching scenes out on paper before working with the camera. Reflecting Western and African portraiture conventions, the works examine “the body’s ability to channel personal and social histories, drawing on the various formal and informal languages of the medium and its archival capabilities,” the artist says. The result is an alphabet of body compositions demonstrating humans’ seemingly limitless variety. The size of these photographs ensures that although they are intimate, they are also confrontational; viewers are invited into the world they depict, but strictly as spectators.

Deana Lawson’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; MOMA PS1, New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago. Her photographs have been published in The New Yorker and Time Magazine. Recently, Lawson
was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, expanding her locations of work to include Jamaica, Haiti, and West Africa. Deana Lawson is currently a Lecturer in Photography at Princeton University. Lawson received an M.F.A. from RISD in 2004.

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“A selfie is a smaller branch of self-portraiture—quick and less considered. A self-portrait considers the interiority of the artist; it’s a moment for self-reflection, to pause and to look at yourself.”
Deana Lawson

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