Posts by: Miss Rosen

Facing the Complex Truths of Addiction & Recovery

JUNE 24, 2017 – BALTIMORE, MD: Colin came to Earl’s Place in 2012. He was at one time an assistant to acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz. Now he is clean and sober and nurtures his relationship with his daughter.

AUGUST 14, 2017 – BALTIMORE, MD: Earl is 54 years old. He used drugs for 30 years and was in numerous recovery programs before coming to Earl’s Place in 2006. Earl believes the structure of Earl’s Place, including curfews and chores, helped him learn how to be neat and clean, and how to respect others. “I have 12 years without drugs. I have my own place. I go to church. I have a job, a sponsor, and I’m the sponsor for two men,” says Earl. 

The conversation around addiction and recovery is a minefield filled with a wealth of disinformation, misinformation, sensationalization, exploitation, and victimization, poisoning our understanding of issues — and the lives at stake. For addiction rarely harms the addict alone, but extends into the lives of families and friends.

Photographer Andrew Mangum understands this firsthand, his mother having suffered from addiction most of his life. Although she is now clean and sober, Mangum continues to bear the pain of trauma that has informed his life. Photography became a path to healing through conversation and communion, centered in the vital, necessary act of human connection with the people he met at Earl’s Place in Baltimore.

A transitional housing program for homeless men in recovery from alcohol or substance abuse, Earl’s Place provides long-term housing and support services for up to two years. At any given time, 17 men are given the basic support and care needed to help them continue their education, get a GED, secure job training and employment opportunities that will allow them to re-enter mainstream society.

Through the process of creating these portraits, Mangum was able to have conversations with these men that were too difficult to have with his mother. The depths of his understanding is profound, as his portraits stand in silent testimony to the toll addiction exacts on those who fall into its perilous clasp. Yet there is none of the hand-wringing, holier-than-thou, condescending contempt or voyeuristic thrill seeking that pervades so much coverage of addiction in the press — there is simply a knowledge of the struggle and mutual respect. Here, Mangum shares his experiences creating this intimate body of work that humanizes the face of addiction.

Inside the Curious World of Reborn Baby Dolls

Girl and doll

Going for a walk 

Sabine and her doll, Emely

Joyce Moreno (1942-2015) was a nurse, specializing in neonatal intensive care, an ordained minister, and a renowned reborn artist. A master of sewing, Moreno began her practice in 1989, when she had the idea to separate the head of her Berenguer brand baby doll from its body, then completely recreate the baby’s face and body as she envisioned it.

“Reborning is taking an unpainted doll and hand painting and detailing it to the point of realism that it is difficult to tell that it is not a real breathing baby/infant,” Moreno explained. “I try my best to add that little something extra, that little bit of true baby essence that makes a big difference in the outcome of what makes it look like a real live baby.”

Her practice was extremely thorough, taking the craft to an art, detailing, “I started with a blank form without paint. His vinyl baby soft skin, is then prepared to receive the delicate layering of paints I use. Layer after layer of my own unique blend of paints are carefully applied, until he began to take on the look and feel of a real newborn.”

The results caught on as these reborn babies spoke to women who could appreciate the work put in: from replacing plastic eyes with glass and hand painting barely-there eyebrows was complemented to the intricate addition of micro-rooted, premium Angora mohair to effect the silky, delicacy of a newborn’s hair. The baby’s limbs were filled with sand, transforming once rigid plastic dolls into mobile, cuddly creations weighted just right, so that they nestled like real newborns might.

For more than three decades, a thriving subculture has been quietly flourishing. For the past two years, German photographer Lena Kunz has been found her way into this world, traveling from referral to referral, and discovering the happiness these unlikely dolls bestow on their owners in her series Artificial Reality. Here Kunz speaks with us about what she has found photographing grown women who still take exceptional pleasure from playing with dolls.

Exploring a Century of Photography and Abstract Art

Maya Tochat. Meta Love 2018,
from the series A Rock Is A River, 2018. Variable techniques and dimensions

Daisuke Yokota. Untitled From Abstracts series, 2014.
Pigment print, dimensions variable

The history of painting and photography has been infinitely, intricately intertwined, ever since the camera first introduced a new way of looking at the world. In its first century, the impact on painting was much more pronounced, as artists like Edgar Degas began cropping his scenes of daily life as a photographer might, while Claude Monet discovered that act of chasing light ultimately brought about a shimmering mirage of sensations, much as they did inside the darkroom when exposed to silver gelatin paper.

But it wasn’t until the advent of abstraction that painting and photography operated in concert, each pushing each other forward with the constant exploration of style and technique. In celebration of the first century of this fascinating dialogue, editors Simon Baker, Emmanuelle De L’Ecotais, Shoair Mavlian have put together Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art (D.A.P./Tate), a catalogue for an exhibition of the same name on view at the Tate in 2018.

The Destruction of the American Landscape, in Photos

Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area, Silver Bow/Deer Lodge Counties, Montana, 1986

Northwest 58th Street Landfill, Hialeah, Florida, 1986

Baxter/Union Pacific Tie Treating, Laramie, Wyoming, 1986

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap,” the Bible warns in Galatians 6:7. But in 2018, we must recognize it is the Earth whose destructive powers will soon be unleashed through the horrific destruction we have enacted.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” is the old refrain, as though ignorance could ever be bliss when it’s really just failure to avert a catastrophe. That is why David T. Hanson’s aerial photographs, just published in Waste Land (Taverner Press) are a break through. The truth cannot be denied.

In 1980, the U.S. Environmental Projection Agency created “Superfund” to address the catastrophic problem of toxic waste sites.  From a list of more than 400,000 contaminated sites throughout the country, the EPA identified 400 highly hazardous locations in dire shape, wreaking ecological disaster on a poisoned landscape.

From this list Hanson selected 67 sites in 45 states, representing a cross-section of American geography and industrial waste activities, including nineteenth-century mines, smelters, and wood-processing plants, landfills and illicit dumps, large petrochemical complexes, aerospace water-contamination sites, nuclear weapons plants, and nerve gas disposal areas.

With the support of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985, Hanson made these photographs, which he presents in the book using a triptych structure. The book provides a U.S. Geological Survey topographic map that he modified to indicate the site within its surrounding environment, his aerial photograph, and a contemporaneous U.S. Environmental Protection Agency site description that details the history of the site, its hazards, and the remedial action taken.

The texts illustrate the bureaucratic nature of hazardous waste regulation and reveal some of the elaborate legal strategies that corporations and individuals have used to avoid responsibility for the contamination and the cleanup. Suffice to say the passage of time has seen no progress made.

Waste Land is part of Hanson’s quest to document the destruction of the American landscape, revealing the dystopian horror that underlies the naïve faith of Alexis de Tocqueville’s belief in the “triumphant march of civilization” that fuels the delusional mythology of the United States.

Waste Land is a haunting meditation on a ravaged landscape. Although the pictures were made in the 1980s, they seem even more relevant today, given our growing concerns about energy production, environmental degradation, and climate change. Here Hanson shares his experiences and insights, reminding us that the power of photography to reveal that which is hidden from view, exposing what are lies and what is truth.

The Magical, Mystical Muses of Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas. Racquel Reclining Wearing Purple Jumpsuit , 2015.
Rhinestones, glitter, flock, acrylic, and oil on wood panel. 96 x 144 in.
The Rachel and Jean-Pierre Lehmann Collection

Mickalene Thomas. Racquel: Come to Me , 2017.
Rhinestones, acrylic, oil, oil stick, and glitter on wood panel. 108 x 84 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Look, but don’t touch, just imagine how it feels as your eyes caress the surface of a work of art by Mickalene Thomas. Painting, photograph, and collage commingle effortlessly as sequins, rhinestones, and glitter every hue imaginable make their way across the picture plane. Spellbound, you stand there and breathe it all in, taking refuge in the infinite glory of the sublime.

At the heart of Thomas’s work is an intoxicating sense of intimacy, a sensual embrace that that seems to embody the very air we breathe. One is immediately seduced and disarmed, overwhelmed by the feeling of being welcomed into this milieu, a space that suggests a boudoir filled with velvet and lace, with veils that cover and reveal, of secrets to be shared.

At its very center, it is about relationship, about the dynamic that exists between artist, model, and viewer that dances into the timeless sunsets of an infinite land. It is rooted in the connections Thomas holds with the women who inspire her to create a wonderland.

Honoring Those Who Give Their Lives to Fight the Power, in Photos

2015, Justice League NYC’s “March 2 Justice” from New York to Washington, DC,
in protest of police brutality.

Congressman John Lewis at Justice League NYC’s “March 2 Justice”
from New York to Washington, DC, in protest of police brutality in 2015

On November 27, Ferguson activist Bassem Masri was found unconscious on a bus in suburban St. Louis. Just 31 at the time of his death, Masri is the latest untimely death of local activists who have passed in sudden and mysterious ways.

Many will remember the murder of Deandre Joshua, just 20 years old, when his body was found with a gunshot to the head inside his car, which had been set on fire during the height of the protests against the extrajudicial assassination of Mike Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson.

Then in 2016, the body of Darren Seals, 26, was found — the same manner of killing exacted upon one of the most prominent activists in the movement. But the deaths did not end there. In 2017, Edward Crawford, 27, was found shot to death in the backseat of his car, and just as recently as October 17, Ferguson activist Melissa McKinnies discovered her son, Danye Jones, 24, lynched in her backyard.

On December 3, HBO premiered Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland, a documentary film that asks, “What really happened to Black Lives Matter activist Sandra Bland?” In her death, Bland became a symbol of all that the government has done — and the ways in which the true story is hidden from view.

David LaChapelle’s Stunning “Letter to the World”

State of Consciousness, 2018 Impression pigmentaire/ pigment print. 163 x 111 cm

A New World, 2017
Impression pigmentaire, negatif peint a la main / hand-painted negative pigment-print.
162,2 x 242,5 cm

“By three methods we may learn wisdom,” Confucius observed. “First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

In the 2,500 years since Confucius wrote these words, his observation of human nature has been proven true countless times — but time is now working against us, as the first fifty years of the Antropocene Era dauntingly reveal. We see it unfolding before our very eyes, but we are far too deep in the thick of it to pull ourselves free, as all systems of progress are moving toward the future as though it were a fait accompli.

Yet there is always possibility embedded in the existence of hope, of the final force unleashed from Pandora’s Box. It is how we move forward despite what foresight suggests in the study of the human condition and the prophecies that it brought forth. It is the answer when there is none. A flash of light in the darkness to remind us, all has not been lost. It is the spark that shines and reflects: there is a better way.

A Breathtaking Portrait of Women Amid a Primordial Landscape

From Where We Came


“At dusk and dawn, the edge of slumber and first light, these figures awaken out of the darkness and live in the hours when others dream,” LilIi Waters writes in the artist statement for her disquieting series, Others Dream, which features women amid an otherworldly landscape that is equal parts foreboding and curious.

Photographed across Western Australia, the images from Others Dream offer a mystical, mythical portrait of the primordial essence of life that begins in utero before being launched upon the earth. They offer themselves as wordless poems, silent revealing secrets to us, offering a moment of meditation where we can escape the artifice that civilization demands and return to something infinitely simpler albeit impossible to fully comprehend.

Here Waters shares her journey, revealing the path that brought her to the creation of this body of work, offering insight on the effortless synergy of life and art.

Inside Chris Stein’s Punk Photo Diary

Snuky Tate, Fab 5 Freddy, and kid punk band the Brattles, 1981. The Brattles opened for the Clash at their New York City show at Bonds on Times Square.

Brooklyn’s own Chris Stein took up photography in 1968, at the age of 18, and began to amass a body of work documenting New York life as the punk scene came into existence. In 1973, he met and began working with Debbie Harry, and together they founded Blondie. From this rarified position, Stein had the best view in the house, the consummate insider in the quintessential outsider scene.

His new book, Point of View: Me, New York City, and the Punk Scene (Rizzoli New York), is a visual diary of daily life during the 1970s, the rawest decade of them all. Stein takes us all the way back to his days as a student at SVA, and gives us a guided tour of a young artist coming of age in a city that was equal parts decadent and derelict, and home to characters like none before or since, be it William Burroughs, David Bowie, Divine, Andy Warhol, or the Ramones.

Eugene Richards Looks Back at a Life in Photography

Eugene Richards, Snow globe of the city as it once was, New York, New York, 2001.
Gelatin silver print. Collection of Eugene Richards.

Eugene Richards, Grandmother, Brooklyn, New York, 1993.
Gelatin silver print. Collection of Eugene Richards.

More than half a century ago: the New Journalism came of age — a style of reportage so wholly unlike what came before that made it clear the seeming “objectivity” espoused by the Western eye was blind to its own innate biases. Rather than continue to presuppose one could be disinterested in covering subjects like Civil Rights and the Vietnam War, many journalists took a stand, opting to explore the complex truths of human life during the final half of the twentieth century — including their own.

Like W. Eugene Smith before him, photographer Eugene Richards (b. 1944) used the photo essay as a means to engage with his subjects through the profound transformation that comes when human beings not only connect, but are seen, heard, understood, and able to share their lives in a holistic way.

Throughout the course of his career, Richards has focused on the essential experiences of life that are daily fodder for headlines including birth, death, poverty, prejudice, war, and terrorism. But through Richards’s lens, we come to understand just how little we know — and how deeply reliant we are upon those who do the reporting in our stead.

In Eugene Richards: The Run-On of Time, now on view at the International Center of Photography through January 6, 2019, we are given a stunning trip through Richards’s life in photography. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue distributed by Yale University Press serve to remind us that we are responsible for evaluating not only the content but also the quality and caliber of the source itself. It is not enough to be talented and to have mastered technique; one must stand for something, and in doing so, use their skills in the service of the greater good.

Here, Richards shares his extraordinary journey, that includes a healthy dose of skepticism about the photograph itself.

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