Detroit Institute of Arts explores how photographers tell their tales

Genesis Baez, ‘The Sound of A Circle,’ 2018. Pigment print. Courtesy of the DIA

Genesis Baez, ‘The Sound of A Circle,’ 2018. Pigment print. Courtesy of the DIA

DETROIT – On view now through January 8, 2023, the Detroit Institute of Arts presents the photography exhibition Conscious Response: Photographers Changing the Way We See. It explores the history of visual storytelling and image-making through the eyes of more than 25 artists who have used photography to record and reflect upon human experiences that impact the work they make and our perceptions of the world.

The exhibition features more than 75 black-and-white and color photographs and photobooks from the 1950s to the present day with works by Diane Arbus, Dawood Bey, Bruce Davidson, Robert Frank, Kenro Izu, Gordon Parks, Doug and Mike Starn and Hiroshi Sugimoto in addition to emerging and mid-career artists including Farah Al Qasimi, Genesis Baez, Brian Day, Merik Goma, Jarod Lew, Jova Lynne, Millee Tibbs and Corine Vermeulen.

Brian Day, ‘Woodward Avenue, Hubert Massey Mural, Detroit from Above,’ 2020. Pigment print. Museum purchase, Coville Photographic Fund, 2021.37. Courtesy of the DIA

Brian Day, ‘Woodward Avenue, Hubert Massey Mural, Detroit from Above,’ 2020. Pigment print. Museum purchase, Coville Photographic Fund, 2021.37. Courtesy of the DIA

The show is curated by the DIA’s James Pearson Duffy Curator of Photography and Department Head Nancy Barr, who noted, “photography is a way to see through the eyes of others and this exhibition brings together work, much of which has never been on view before, that explores the intentions and perceptions of artists and photographers so we, as viewers, can witness their response to the world.”

Farah Al Qasimi, ‘Sally at the Ford Estate,’ 2019. Pigment print. Museum purchase, Albert and Peggy DeSalle Charitable Trust and Asian Art Deaccession Fund, 2021.295. Courtesy of the DIA

Farah Al Qasimi, ‘Sally at the Ford Estate,’ 2019. Pigment print. Museum purchase, Albert and Peggy DeSalle Charitable Trust and Asian Art Deaccession Fund, 2021.295. Courtesy of the DIA

While the “conscious response” of each of the 25 artists may be different, the common theme of connections and explorations of photographic traditions, nature, time, consciousness and spirituality are featured throughout the show. Historical photographers Arbus, Davidson, Evans, Frank and Parks looked at the world in black-and-white, while photographers such as Day, Lew and Lynne explore identity and community through their lens, and finally multi-generational artists such as Bey, Fraser and Goma use their art to interpret the Black experience and social justice.

Many of the works are gifts to the museum; others are recent acquisitions made by the DIA and have never before been on view.

Visit the website of the Detroit Institute of Arts and see its dedicated page for Conscious Response: Photographers Changing the Way We See.