Then, Now, Next
Using Tyler Mitchell’s exhibition, I Can Make You Feel Good, at the International Center of Photography (ICP), as a springboard, photographers Quil Lemons and Arielle Bobb-Willis will share their work and have a conversation led by ICP’s curator-at-large, Isolde Brielmaier. Drawing from past influences and inspirations, the photographers will discuss the connections between the past, present, and future, and how they envision the impact of visual culture on issues of representation today.
Born and raised in New York City, with pit stops in South Carolina and New Orleans, photographer Arielle Bobb-Willis has been using the camera for nearly a decade as a tool of empowerment. Battling with depression from an early age, Bobb-Willis found solace behind the lens and has developed a visual language that speaks to the complexities of life: the beautiful, the strange, belonging, isolation, and connection. Inspired by masters like Jacob Lawrence and Benny Andrews, Bobb-Willis applies a ‘painterly’ touch to her photography by documenting people in compromising and disjointed positions as way to highlight these complexities. Toting the line between fashion and contemporary art, her use of bright vivid colors is therapeutic and speaks to a desire to claim power and joy in moments of sadness, confusion or confinement. Her photographs are all captured in urban and rural cities, from the South to North, East to West. Bobb-Willis travels throughout the US as a way of finding ‘home’ in any grassy knoll, or city sidewalk, reminding us to stay connected and grounded during life’s transitional moments.
Arielle is currently based in Los Angeles.
Quil Lemons’ work is a representation of the community he comes from. The context of his work comes from the internet, queerness, and popular culture, the themes of his work are timeless and ambitious in scope. Subjects such as masculinity, queerness, race, and body positivity are played out in often disruptive images that feel like pure imagination. Lemons dances the line between the fantastic and realistic, drawing influence from our current cultural climate, giving his work an eerily familiar feeling.
GLITTERBOY(2017) introduced Lemons to the world and started a dialogue that would act as a common thread through much of his work to come. In his inaugural series, Lemons dusted black men with glitter to combat the stereotypes and stigmas placed upon their bodies. This concept of challenging what is acceptable for the black male body developed even further in BOY PARTS (2020).
Simultaneously, Lemons began an exploration of the black family portrait with his series PURPLE (2018) and project WELCOME HOME (2018). Images from both projects gave an intimate glimpse into his home life and the modern black American family structure in Philadelphia.
Quil has previously exhibited at Contact Festival, Toronto ’18, Kuumba Festival, Toronto ’19 and Aperture, NY ’19.
Isolde Brielmaier is ICP’s new Curator-at-Large after building upon her previous collaborations with ICP, which include being a nominator and juror for ICP’s annual Infinity Awards, moderating an ICP panel at Photoville in 2019, leading a conversation with Carrie Mae Weems at ICP’s Spotlights event in 2015, and writing an essay for ICP’s Multiply, Identify, Her exhibition in 2018.
Brielmaier is currently professor of critical studies in New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Department of Photography & Imaging, Emerging Media. She is formerly executive director and curator of arts, culture, and community at Westfield World Trade Center, and now serves as national advisor for Unbail-Rodamco-Westfield, a role in which she advises on artist projects and installations, cultural events, and strategic and community partnerships across the organization. She continues to work on a range of large-scale public artist commission projects.
In fall 2019, she wrapped a three-year Mellon Foundation–funded curator-at-large post at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College.
She serves as editor-at-large at Air Mail, Graydon Carter’s new media venture, and she is a consulting editor of several scholarly journals.
Brielmaier speaks regularly on topics related to art, culture, and social impact. She previously worked for the Guggenheim Museum, the Bronx Museum of Art, and as chief curator for the SCAD Museum of Art. In 2016, she was named to the board of trustees of the New Museum. She holds a PhD from Columbia University.
ABOUT THE PARTNER
The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. Cornell Capa founded ICP in 1974 to champion “concerned photography”—socially and politically minded images that can educate and change the world. Through our exhibitions, education programs, community outreach, and public programs, ICP offers an open forum for dialogue about the power of the image.