Mark Steinmetz’s Melissa, Athens, Georgia

Mark Steinmetz
Melissa, Athens, Georgia
13 7/8 x 10 15/16, silver gelatin print, framed
Signed on verso

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Iconic and transfixing black and white work of Mark Steinmetz freezes the complexities of youth. Steinmetz mixes painterly poses like Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World with the striking ability to make light and illumination an equal subject.


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The photographs from Mark Steinmetz' South East series were made between 1994 and 2001. About half were taken in Athens where the artist lives, documenting chance encounters with fellow southerners. Steinmetz describes his subjects in black and white with a 6 x 9 medium format camera that lushly accentuates detail. The series gives us a sense of life lived at the margins but it is not hopeless. Steinmetz once again relies on chance in presenting these images, ultimately leaving interpretation up to his viewers.

Mark Steinmetz (b. 1961) is an Athens, Georgia-based photographer whose work captures black-and-white images of Southern Americana as seen in urban, rural and suburban landscapes. Surprisingly, Mark Steinmetz did not originate in the South. In fact, he attended high school in Iowa and received his MFA from Yale University in 1986. It wasn’t until 1999 that he left shooting freelance in Chicago and moved south for a teaching job at the University of Tennessee.

Mark Steinmetz’ monographs include South Central (2007), South East (2008), Greater Atlanta (2009) and Summertime (2012). He has also been published in Aperture, Blind Spot and DoubleTake magazines. In 1994, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1998 he participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program. Mark Steinmetz has taught at a number of institutions, including Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College, Emory University and Yale. His photos can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.