Dawoud Bey’s “The Emory Project” Opens Feb. 1st

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"Dawoud Bey’s Portraits of Emory to Be Unveiled February 1 Opening Reception: Tuesday, February 1, 5-8 p.m., Visual Arts Gallery, Emory University ATLANTA—Dawoud Bey: The Emory Project opens Tuesday, February 1 at Emory’s Visual Arts Gallery, with internationally renowned photographer Dawoud Bey in attendance. The exhibit unveils 20 of Bey’s double portraits, part of a photographic series that reveals a glimpse into individual lives and reflects Emory’s cultural diversity. Commissioned by Emory’s Visual Arts Department and the Transforming Community Project (TCP), the project brought Bey to the Emory campus for four weeks last spring. During that time, he created 36 double portraits, each pairing photos and personal statements of two Emory community members from different stations throughout the university. Bey’s work has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Portrait Gallery in London, and is perhaps best known for “Class Pictures,” portraits of high school students that defy stereotypes of American teenagers. This exhibition, on display at the Visual Arts Gallery last year, inspired conversations with Bey about the Emory community becoming his next subject—an intriguing proposition for Bey. “This commission allowed me to raise and grapple with a new set of issues in my own work,” Bey recalls. “Adults have a higher degree of self-consciousness than the teenagers I’ve photographed. It was hard for some people to think about themselves beyond their Emory role, or deviate from the script they think others should hear, but once they relaxed and got to an honest place, the project took on its most interesting dimensions.” A creative challenge for the project was selecting a limited number of campus representatives from the vast demographics of Emory’s university and healthcare systems. Bey was clear that he wanted the portrait pairings to include a significant number of people who were not typically seen in the university’s public profile, and that he wanted to bring people together who might not normally interact. As the final portraits reveal, Bey was equal to these challenges, creating contemplative portraits that render some aspect of their subjects’ inner lives visible, if only for a moment. Taken it is totality, The Emory Project is a probing and revealing glimpse of a community that is as diverse as it is cohesive. In addition to the portrait exhibit, the opening reception will feature documentary footage that illuminates the creative process of the project and highlights the participants’ experiences. The February 1 reception is from 5-8 p.m. at the Emory Visual Arts Gallery, 700 Peavine Creek Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322. Gallery hours are Mon.-Fri., 12-5 p.m.; Sat., 12-4 p.m; and by appointment (contact Mary Catherine Johnson mcjohn7@emory.edu; 404-712-4397). The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public. The 20 portraits will be on view at the Visual Arts Gallery through March 5, before going to a permanent location on campus. All 36 portraits and statements are at www.transform.emory.edu/dawoudbey/

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