This month LATITUDE welcomes Lida Suchy as our February Artist-in-Residence for 2018!
Lida Suchy chronicles communities through portraiture. She is a first generation American, born into a refugee family and often draws on this background as inspiration for her creative work. She earned a BA in cultural anthropology from SUNY Albany, an MA from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication and an MFA from the Yale University School of Art. Lida taught photography at Rochester Institute of Technology and Hartwick College, as well as master workshops in the USA, Italy and Ukraine. She currently teaches at Onondaga Community College and mentors students both at home and abroad.
In 2016, Suchy was named a Guggenheim Fellow and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow. Other awards include a Fulbright Scholarship, a Light Work Residency and Light Work grants, a NYSCA Grant, ArtsLink Grant and International Research and Exchanges Fellowship. Lida has exhibited in galleries in the USA and Europe. Her work is included in public collections at the Brooklyn Museum, Bibliothèque Nationale Paris, Eastman Photography Museum, Franko Museum Ukraine and SF MoMA.
Q & A
You’re one of LATITUDE's only residents that has worked on a project for over 20 years. What has motivated you to continue to photograph the same place and people for so long?
I photograph communities largely through portraiture. I’ve done this for more than 25 years. I’ve worked intermittently, since 1992, on the series: Portrait of a Village. With this project, I enjoy returning to the same community over time. Photography is so good at capturing clear descriptions of a particular instant. It can be striking to look at these instances over time. But frankly, what keeps me coming back is a strong connection with the people.
You mentioned that you take these images with an 8x10 large format camera. Have you also photographed these moments in different photographic formats? Why or why not? Are there other ways that you’ve recorded this series?
I used a small rangefinder camera as a sketchbook for notes and studies, and more recently, a mirrorless digital camera.
What has kept you working in black and white versus other photographic processes?
For consistency in the work – as time changed, other variables remained the same. This strategy is true for the major body of work; however, there are offshoots that are experiments with format or color. One thing among many that I would like to do during the Latitude residency, is to see how the experimental color pictures may fit into the larger B/W body of work in book format.
Have you felt like you’ve completed this series? Why or why not?
I have completed most of the picture making. Next up, I would like to prepare a mock-up for the book, Portrait of a Village.
What will you be working on during your residency here at LATITUDE?
Well, I’ve already mentioned a couple things above, and I’ll also be making some exhibition prints for a small show coming up in Syracuse. I would like more people outside of my immediate region to see the work, which I think is important. It would be wonderful if Latitude could help to facilitate this.
Are there any great stories or memories from your time shooting this series that you’d like to share with our community?
Looking through the pages of a family album of a friend in the village, unexpectedly, I came across photographs I made for Portrait of a Village mixed together with snapshots and ancient family portraits. Seeing these all together was a revelation.
Are there any current movies, books, magazines, or podcasts that you recommend for people to check out about art and/or photography?
Literature is the medium most related to photography. Both literature and photography make for “thick descriptions.” My recent list includes works by non-fiction prose writer Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Noble prize in literature; and the novels: The Museum of Abandoned Secrets, by Oksana Zabuzhko; Year of the Comet, by Sergei Lebedev; Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward; and though I have yet to finish, George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. Together with my two teenage sons, I recently viewed the movie Saturday Church. All of these are interesting and thought provoking.
Lastly, because you’re coming from Syracuse, New York, what would you suggest for people to do if they visited the area? Have any favorite places?
The Everson Museum (contemporary art & provocative ceramics); ArtRage Gallery (political art); and naturally… Light Work!
For more information about the Lida’s photographic practice and project Portrait of a Village please see: lidasuchy.com