On view through January 11.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1949, Frank Stewart’s first remembrance of taking snapshots was as a fourteen-year old with his mother at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Since then the scope of his work has focused on documenting African American culture and its marginalization, which reflects his upbringing in the segregated, mid-century American south.
As a young photographer, he studied at Middle Tennessee State and later attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was a student of Garry Winogrand. He received his BFA in photography from Cooper Union where he studied under Roy DeCarava. Stewart later went on to become the assistant and photographer to the artist, Romare Bearden, after the two met in 1975 while filming the documentary Two Centuries of Black American Art. They continued working together until Bearden’s passing in 1988.
His now over 50-year-long career reflects many years of international travel accompanying the musicians of Jazz at Lincoln Center as their senior photographer. It was during these trips that Stewart took many of the photographs he has come to be known for.
Following in the footsteps of Winogrand and DeCarava, Stewart shows his command of the medium, as well as his raw perspective on elements of daily life. Crediting his treatment of spatial relationships to his time photographing the work of Bearden, Stewart utilizes every inch of space and never crops an image with post-processing, commenting, “I crop with the camera…If I can’t work it in, I work it out.” Featuring a range of photographic processes from gelatin silver prints to digital printing methods, the exhibition includes both black & white and color photography, a development that Stewart only fully embraced in 2013.