Five Questions for Michelle Grabner
Series: The Birmingham Project
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art's 1969 exhibition "Harlem on My Mind," a Queens-raised 16-year-old with Harlem roots was inspired to become an artist. By 1979, Dawoud Bey, who also attributes photographers like Richard Avedon, Walker Evans, and Irving Penn as influences, had produced his first one-man show, "Harlem, USA," that documented diverse residents of the neighborhood in small black-and-white prints. Although different from his later large-scale, color work in the studio, these early prints showed Bey's sensitive approach and ability to communicate an unbridled presence in his subjects. In 2007, Bey created school portrait-style photographs of high school students across the country, followed a series depicting unacquainted members of the same community side-by-side, such as a Buddhist monk and a doctoral student, who he approached in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood.
American, b. 1953, New York, New York