MFA Photo/ Video alumni Susannah Ray and curator of Prints and Photographs at The Museum of the City of New York, Sean Corcoran, spoke at the Works on Water/Underwater New York Residency Project Space on Governors Island last month, where selections from Susannah Ray’s series "Down For the Day" are currently on view. They presented Ray's series on day trippers in the Rockaways and the history of photographing New York City beaches and other public spaces of leisure.
From Susannah Ray's "Down for the Day:"
"They all come down for the day. Camps set up shoulder to shoulder, mini-habitations, refugees from the city. Running into the water with a shout. By August it's like a bathtub. The late-afternoon sun, relentless, lowering in the sky, the shadows grow long, lifeguard whistles from one stand then the next, like a virus up and down the beach: everybody out. Shaking sheets and packing coolers, missing flip-flops and crying toddlers, trying to rinse off the sand, its everywhere on everything, sand, sand, and more sand."
Susannah Ray lives in the Rockaways, a small peninsula on the edge of New York City bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Jamaica Bay, and JFK International Airport. This intersection of city and water is at the heart of her photography and extends her early interest in landscape photography, which she uses as as form of visual geography, rendering the complex interrelationships of place, people, history, and ideology.
Ray has had museum and gallery solo exhibitions and has been featured and reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous online publications. Born in 1972 in Washington, D.C, she studied photography as an undergraduate at Princeton University and completed her MFA in 1997 at the School of Visual Arts MFA Program in Photography and Related Media. Susannah Ray is an adjunct Associate Professor of Photography and the Photography Program Supervisor at Hofstra University.