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Capturing "A Picture of America"
Photographer Profile, Profiles, Special Feature

Capturing "A Picture of America"

Ahead of their Leica panel tomorrow at Photoville 2017, we asked Sheila Pree Bright to share about her forthcoming project with fellow photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier - "Bright & Frazier: A Picture of America":

Danny and I met at the International Center of Photography in New York last October. We participated on a panel call "Democratization of the Image." At the end of the discussion I suggested that Danny and I collaborate on a project together because of the nature of work we where doing in American communities—both rural and urban—to see what unites us.

The objective of this project is to engage segregated communities of the 21st century to critically look at the social factors that create divisions. The project’s intent is to broaden the dialogue between those with different perspectives of our human condition and how that relates to race, migration, bigotry, economics, and the realities individuals face based upon their personal experiences.

Credit: Danny Wilcox Frazier (above), Sheila Pree Bright (below)

Danny and I will launch the pilot phase of the project by collecting personal narratives in Mexico, Missouri through a photographic study of community, which will progress into a multi-visual documentary that presents the current climate and historical framework of the town.

Mexico, like many industrial cities in the Midwest, is a community that once made things. Two brick manufacturers employed several thousand workers, but now, long after both businesses closed, the community is a shell of itself financially. Race still dominates many aspects of life in the tight knit rural town. The racial makeup in Mexico is 86.1% White and 8.3% African American. The median per capita income for African Americans is $16,742 while the rate for Whites is $21,247. Over 22% of the population lives below the poverty level. Nearly 29% of children live below the poverty line and around 70% of residents with 2+ races are below the rate, a staggering statistic.

Credit: Sheila Pree Bright (above), Danny Wilcox Frazier (below)

Mexico, Missouri is a significant model for this study as the population represents a segregated society still dealing with the multigenerational impact of slavery and racism. The community also sits in the heart of America. The Midwest has suffered economically for decades and many communities throughout the region have been forgotten and their residents disregarded by the political and corporate elite in America.

Our focus is to capture voices of those who are unheard as they react to the ideas and issues that are shaping their world. We seek to create contemporary stories about social, political, and historical context not often seen in traditional media and fine art platforms.  For me and Danny, human justice is an important aspect of our creative work because it examines the history of America's collective look at race. We will present aspects of culture, and sometimes counter culture, that challenge what we see and how we see it.

Sheila and Danny will be speaking tomorrow, Saturday 9/16, at the Photoville festival in New York City, which is free and open to the public. Their panel begins at 1:30PM at St. Ann’s Warehouse – 45 Water St, Brooklyn.

Credit: Sheila Pree Bright (above, below)

Credit: Danny Wilcox Frazier (above, below)

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