A pandemic is a story told in torrents of numbers. In the midst of calculating infection rates and tallying COVID-19 cases and deaths, we risk commodifying the loss. Wayne Lawrence’s portraits do not permit that.
In three American centers where COVID-19’s damage was profound—New Orleans, Detroit, and metropolitan New York-New Jersey—Lawrence sought out the bereaved. All had lost a loved one, or several, in the pandemic. Each shared mournful, loving stories: of a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child.
Lawrence’s penetrating portraits capture, but do not invade the grief of the mourners, those whose faces show their sorrow, and those whose expressions mask it. The photographs remind us that death is not an abstraction, but a timeless and intimate experience.
Wayne Lawrence (b.1974) is a St. Kitts-born, Brooklyn-based visual artist whose work, rooted in the documentary tradition, seeks to illuminate the complexities of human experience, navigating ideas of community, purpose, and humanity’s relationship to our natural and adopted environments.
Wayne’s photographs have been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of Art, the FLAG Art Foundation, Amerika Haus (Munich), the Open Society Institute, and the African American Museum of Philadelphia, among other galleries.
His work has appeared on the covers of National Geographic and TIME and has been published by National Geographic magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, AARP, TIME, Rolling Stone, Variety, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, Mare, COLORS, and Newsweek.
His first monograph, Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera, was released by Prestel Publishing in October 2013, with accompanying exhibitions at the Bronx Museum of Art, and the FLAG Art Foundation.
Wayne is currently at work on his second book, Black Blood, an exploration of J’ouvert Carnival traditions in the eastern Caribbean.rt & Art history.
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Portrait of Grief
Featuring: Wayne Lawrence
Curated by: Todd James
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