5.14.2012

Project Release: Shane Lavalette

© Shane Lavalette, Bill on His Porch, 2011, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta

fototazo publishes new photography projects, providing an early look at images from selected artists. Today's Project Release is from Shane Lavalette. This work, commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, explores the American South using music as an entry point into the region. The project will soon be published through a successful and ongoing Kickstarter campaign. In addition to presenting these 12 images, Lavalette has also answered a few questions for us about the project.

fototazo: How did the collaboration with the High Museum come together?

Shane Lavalette: In short, the stars aligned.

It was Danielle Avram Morgan, former Curatorial Assitant to Julian Cox at the High, who initially reached out to me with an interest in my work in 2010. Danielle had finished her MFA at the Museum School in Boston where I went for undergrad, so that was our earlier connection. We didn't really know each other, however she kept an eye on my pictures since then. I sent some images along and received a positive response from both her and Julian. They invited me to visit to Atlanta and view some of my prints together in person. It was there that we started talking more in depth about the museum's "Picturing the South" commission series and the possibility of me making new work in the South. During my visit I looked at the current photographs on display by Alec Soth (Black Line of Woods, which later became Broken Manual), and got a peek around the High's collection to see past commissions by Sally Mann, Emmett Gowin, Dawoud Bey and Richard Misrach, among others. Some time after I returned to Boston, Julian got in touch again and asked me if I'd be interested in sending in a more direct proposal for this commission series. And, well, it went from there.

I deeply appreciated their encouragement.

f: Why did you decide to use music as your entry point into exploring the South visually?

SL: It was rather daunting to propose something to do that would resonate with such a strong collection the museum was building, and also represent a complex region such as the South. Having grown up in the Northeast my whole life, originally from Vermont, I knew the entry point would have to be with what was familiar. Over the past few years in particular I had grown interested and fond of old time music, and dived into listening to everything from blues to gospel ballads to bluegrass. Music was a fertile topic for photography, but I knew early on that I wanted to explore it more playfully so I avoided any real documentary outline for myself. I intended to visit historically relevant places and musically significant people but allow that to simply be the thread that would loosely tie things together. This opened up my practice in a completely refreshing way.

f: You are currently fundraising to make a book of this work on Kickstarter. Talk about the importance of making this work into a book in addition to the museum exhibition.

SL: As soon as I began shooting, I felt the sense that this would be my first book. Given the musical impetus the pages of a book actually lend themselves quite nicely to the photographs. In a book you have sequence, movement, themes, stories, rhythm, repetition, etc., which all compliment the nature of the work itself.

I'm thrilled that the project already passed its initial funding goal on Kickstarter. I'm hoping the momentum continues as the more support I can garner for the project now, the more doors it opens for the publication.


© Shane Lavalette, Devil's Crossroads, 2010, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Ground Zero, 2010, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Praying Hands, 2011, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Tommy's Bed, 2010, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, America Street, 2011, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Spit in the Swamp, 2010, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Alvin at Church, 2010, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Rev. Dennis's Bible Castle to God, 2010, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Po' Monkey's 70th Birthday, 2010, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Athens Morning, 2011, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta


© Shane Lavalette, Spirit Bottles, 2011, courtesy of High Museum of Art, Atlanta

______________


Shane Lavalette (b. 1987, Burlington, VT) is an American photographer currently living in Upstate New York. He received his BFA from Tufts University in partnership with The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Lavalette’s photographs have been shown widely, including exhibitions at the High Museum of Art, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Aperture Gallery, Montserrat College of Art, The Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard University, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Musée de l’Elysée, among others. His editorial work has been published in various magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Vice Magazine, The Wire, Pig Magazine, CODE and SLASH. Lavalette is the founding Publisher and Editor of Lay Flat as well as the Associate Director of Light Work.