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Purposeful Meandering: Ralph Eugene Meatyard and the Lexington Camera Club With Filmmaker, Don Simandl

  • MFA Photo, Video and Related Media, Big Room 120 214 East 21st Street New York, NY, 10010 United States (map)

Filmmaker, Don Simandl is making a documentary about the historic and unique nexus of photography that occurred in the 1960s in Lexington, Kentucky. Charles Traub, MFA Photo, Video and Related Media Chair began his photographic career as a member of that group. He and Don Simandl will discuss the history and legacy of Meatyard’s leadership and mentorship of a remarkable group of image-makers. Traub will discuss his own work in relation to that history and show relatively unknown work by Meatyard.

The Lexington Camera Club is a confluence of artists coming together in one place, at one time, and with each one making the other one better; reframing the story of modern American photography to include a small band of experimental photographers who heretofore have not been included in the tale. From the small southern town of Lexington Kentucky emerged a brilliant collection of photographers that includes Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Van Deren Coke, Robert C. May, Cranston Ritchie, James Baker Hall, Guy Mendes and Charles Traub. As photography struggled to become an art, and while other camera clubs were merely recreational in spirit, the Lexington Camera Club was encouraging its members to push their boundaries. Experimentation was greatly encouraged, critiques at monthly meetings were constructive and collegial, all eyes were opened to every possibility, and great art was being made. Far from the gallery scenes of New York and Paris, they were free to produce whatever they wished and be pure in what they were making. The Lexington Camera Club was a collaborative and creative effort that would receive international recognition, but with the death of Meatyard and its demise soon after, this amazing community of artists has become nearly lost in the mainstream story of modern photography. But like Paris in the 1920s and New York in the 1950s, their story is equally rich and deserving of further study, and their artistic achievements reveal the true power of collaboration and community. Let it be known that in the great milky way of photography, there once was a very nice constellation of photographers in Lexington.

*This event is by invitation only. Please email mfaphoto@sva.edu with any inquiries. Thank you. 

Earlier Event: August 28
New Student Orientation Fall 2017
Later Event: September 26
On Assignment