Panel discussion with Samantha Belden, Sarah Hiatt, and guest artist David Kasnic: Friday, August 4 at 7 pm at gallery
Curator Rebecca Memoli describes The Feeling Is Mutual as an exhibition that “examines the concept of family values through the work of four emerging portrait photographers”: Samantha Belden, Nydia Blas, Blane Bussey, and Sarah Hiatt. Few concepts carry the personal and political weight of “family values.” To heft this weight, Memoli selects works that range from audacious to judicious, from tender to insolent.
The label “emerging portrait photographers” is useful as far as conventional categories go. It uses media, subject, and stage in career as factors to compute a common denominator for these four artists. The subjects of these portraits also can be labeled—grandmother, mother, sister, lover, niece, nephew. Like the artists, each of their subjects exceeds labels and singular relationships. The portraits are at once frank and nuanced. They leave us wondering, what’s going on outside the frame?
The exhibition’s catalog features an essay by Audrey Jane Black. She growls at the coercive power of family, photography, family photographs, and family values. She claims difference as a family value—and as a human value and a human right: “I spoke to you and you spoke back, we were two twilights, parentheses around the waking world, in concert but never the same.”
Whether we can feel or know what another person is feeling has confounded humans through the ages. The portraits in The Feeling Is Mutual suggest empathy arises in the wordless, in-between space of the imagination.