The local art museum is running an exhibit of portraits of High School kids by the artist Dawoud Bey. While I had heard of the artist and this particular set of work before, I had not paid much attention to him. While I was at the museum earlier this month, I grabbed the chance to take in the exhibit.
I really didn't expect much from the exhibit. I tend not to like portraits of younger people, there is usually not a lot of personality there yet, at least in western society. Usually, the worse things they worry about is the latest celebrity craze, or who is dating who, not really paying much attention to the world as a whole. At least that's my perception of teenagers.
I was pleasantly surprised. The photographs were not the typical upbeat mass produced portraits you usually see, but serious work. Doing a little reading about the work, I found out he spent 45 minutes with each student, enough time to get to know the person and engage them. I'm not sure how many portraits he took in total, but the ones shown are masterfully done. In addition, each work has a short missive written by the student before the portraits were taken. It turns out that, at least some of the teenagers, were not as shallow as I thought. There is an accompanying book as well, which I may pick up.
I plan to go back again before the exhibit closes to see it one more time. I tend to like seeing an exhibit twice, the second time after I've thought about it. I was also a mite rushed the first time and I would like to spend some more time with it.
Currently showing at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and ending March 20th.