At this time, We the People must ask ourselves one question: who are we? Although it might seem like a simple question, the answer may not come so easily. When the founding fathers penned “We the People,” they may have meant themselves, the white men in power, but We the People of today incorporates a much wider set of individuals. When We lives to juxtapose with the Other, just as it has in our current climate, photography’s unique power to democratize becomes a necessity. In our previous show He, She, They, we explored the multifaceted ways gender, sexuality, and identity build ourselves and our surroundings. And so, expanding our notions of us, Rosegallery presents We, a selection of photographs, paintings, and prints which strive to show the encompassing sense of We through our idiosyncrasies and connections.
In the process of image making, a broadening sense of ourselves has expanded over time. To capture these changes, photography has served to document where we stand together and where we fail to meet.
During the 1940s, Dorothea Lange traveled throughout the United States, illuminating the image of the many Others left to the side. Not so long after Lange, Kodachrome captured the post-war America which prided itself on a sense of unity through the sought-after American Dream. The vibrant early-color Kodachrome photographs of Guy Stricherz’s collection unveils an intimate view into this period of american middle-class prosperity that many still admire with a deep sense of nostalgia.
Yet the bright nostalgia of these family photographs exists just as the divisiveness of segregation began to reveal itself — as caught in Charles Brittin’s protest photography of the 1960s. The effects of segregation has still not entirely diffused, and Eggleston’s black and white photographs from the American South during the 1960s to 1970s relay this fact, as if the black and white of his film echoes the segregation of his surroundings. The dichotomies inherent in these compositions illustrate the We versus Other mentality of those times, which unfortunately still garners a pulse today.
Yet the spaces in which we find ourselves between We and the Other can be most telling of who we truly are. Graciela Iturbide’s La Frontera captures moments at a place given heightened attention this year: the border between the United States and Mexico. When borders deepen, they engage with the mentality of We versus Them; so, when we share our broader spaces, we employ the inclusive sense of We. The way artists process their surroundings reveals how we share our spaces before reconfiguring them, and through our collected involvement in one place we collectively identify ourselves through a spatial unity. So, when we speak of “we,” we mean all. Artists featured include: Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Charles Brittin, Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston, Graciela Iturbide, Dorothea Lange, Wayne Lawrence and Guy Stricherz.