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Art & Activism

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Art & Activism with Sheila Pree Bright

Sheila Pree Bright, Kenna Klosterman

Art & Activism

Sheila Pree Bright, Kenna Klosterman

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1. Art & Activism with Sheila Pree Bright


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Art & Activism with Sheila Pree Bright

mhm. Uh huh. Yeah. Hello, everyone. And welcome to Creativelive. Welcome back to Creativelive. I'm Kenner Klosterman, your host here on creative live TV and the host of our podcast. We are photographers where we take you behind the scenes with photographers, film makers and industry game changers from all over the world to truly connect you with their stories. Their work, uh, to understand that none of us are alone in our creative journeys. So we are live right now. I'm super excited for today's guest, Sheila Pree bright. And I would love for all of you to tell me Tell Sheila where it is that you are tuning in from. So if you're watching on creativelive dot com slash tv, you can click on the chat button there that is on the screen. Tell me where you're tuning in from and feel free to have conversations throughout this talk. You can also join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and again, love those Shout out. So tell us where you are tuning in from. But let's get started Wit...

h today's episode, uh, today we're thrilled toe have on Creative Live for the very first time, Sheila pree bright Sheila is a photographic artist. She is an author. She's a speaker. She is known for her Siri's 1960 now, Ah, young Americans, Plastic bodies and her work Suburbia. She is the author of a book, now photographs of civil rights activists and Black Lives Matter Protest. The work was also featured in The New York Times. She is a character in the feature length documentary film Election Day Lens. Across America. She's a contributor, an ambassador for the like of 10, which is a collective of artists, and her work is internationally exhibited nationally, exhibited, collected all over, um, in private and public collections, just to name a few. Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Library of Congress, National Center for Civil and Human Rights. And that's just a few of the list goes on and on and on. So please help me welcome Sheila. Pree bright to creativelive Sheila. Thank you so much for joining us. Well, thank you for the invite, Kina. Yeah. So, Sheila, I would love to just start talking about some of your most recent work and some of the things that are going on with your life right now, and I know that right now you have a brand new exhibit at the Jackson Museum of Fine Arts in Atlanta, where your work is alongside the work of Steven Shapiro, who was a photographer who, back in the 19 6 Net was, is a photographer who, back in the sixties, was photographing the civil rights movement. And, you know, your work more recently appeared alongside with his Can you tell us about that exhibit and how it came about and what is most exciting to you about it? What's really interesting about the exhibit? The work that the recent work? 1960 Now I've been actually photographing since 2000 and 13 with Trey Han, and I authored a book, and now we're in 2020 and Jackson Fine Art Gallery. Anna approached me and asked me what I'd be willing to do a show with steam. Shapiro. And what's so funny about that is I have his book that I bought, like a year ago and didn't realize that I would like be in a show with him and what's really interesting for me because of my work, and I call it 1960. Now young people are still experiencing what my parents are from the Jim Crow era, um, Jim Crow era. The young people experienced that, and they feel like they're fighting the same fight that they're grandparent's and parent's fight. So with Steve, it was really interesting to visit physically. Visit the gallery to really that work is beautiful. And he had all of Martin Luther King, mayor maker Evers and also James Baldwin, a person that everybody is quoting from. And it's up to now, like contemporary times. And I actually was able Thio have a conversation with Steve on I G live at the gallery, and it was amazing. Thio hear him speak about his work, and he felt that one thing that him and James Baldwin had in common. They were both from parents that were creatures, and I think that was part of their connection. And he felt that him that he needed to go and tell these stories from his point of view and then with my word. It is so it's a different in the way of contemporary, you know, you could tell that it's different, but it's contemporary with the clothing and stuff but I chose to photograph. I've chose to photograph in black and white and square because of what has changed from then and now and eso how when you when you when you're standing there looking at the work side by side is the feeling that you get the same. What is what is go a little bit deeper into what is the same and what is different other than the clothing for for you and for other people seeing the work. What is different? Because that's history. That was how many years ago. You see these icons that we read about in history, and they they're just young people and very ordinary people. My work is in the making and you see young people. But you cannot identify who's a leader because it's not about a leader. It's about all of us, okay, It's like a sympathy where you have different parts of declaring it the saxophone, and we're all playing different parts of that. So I feel that with Steve's work, we see more of the icons that we, um, read about, read about in history books. Except for some of the imagery that famous, iconic imagery of a young man with its face. Um, I don't know if this powder or whatever on it, and it says Vote and we're in those times now. And so my work, it's different, but it's the same and is the black and white. Is that merely to to mimic, um, work from the 19 sixties before there was color film? Or was there? Maybe there was, but or is there something about black and white to you as an artist that is different than than color from a conceptual point, since I feel that nothing has changed since, I mean, things have changed, but we're still fighting the same fight. I will not shoot in black and white into liberation, and then I will show it in living color. That's my concept. That's powerful. Yeah, um, you were talking about, um, the word vote and, um, where we are today, and I'm I'm curious. I watched last night. I watched the movie that that you are one of the seven photographers, uh, that are featured as an and followed during the 2016 election. Election day. Uh, that's the film. The Election Day lands across America on and in that you you talk about because you're you are documenting riel time. And so I'm you talk about listening and observing, and I want to talk a little bit about, um, about about the film itself. But then also about the difference between sort of documentary work and the mawr conceptual, um, photographic artist type work, um, from earlier, you know, or just how those two differ. But first, let's talk about, um, the film itself and and what that experience was for you. What? That what that meant for you and how you approach telling the story of that day. Wow. Well, that was in 2000 and 16, and right before then I documented the DNC, and it was so emotional. And what a lot of people didn't understand was I knew that Trump. Okay? And I couldn't speak upon because if not, people would be like Shula. I don't want to hear that, you know all of that. So when I was asked to be documented for the for 2000 and 16 for the voting, we actually went into the black areas of Atlanta because that's where a lot of I don't know how to say it the voting where the machines air down, People can't vote. They tell them the golf. And so what My experience from that? Because from that, because that's the first time I've ever ever done anything like that is I gathered around a lot of young people that evening, went to bars and stuff, and one of the places that we stopped to was at Morehouse in Atlanta. That was one of the black colleges and the young people you've shit felt that energy in there because they actually wanted Clinton to win. But when they start sawing the numbers of Trump who hurt nothing with science, people were getting worried they were texting everybody like This is this is not really And I have one of the students, um, that went to Morehouse. Call me and I think that's on the video. He says, Sheila, what are we gonna do? Because he was a Republican? He says, What are we gonna do? You know, because he was saying this country is like, messed up, you know? And from there you had some people that just decided not to vote, because when it comes to African American culture, how has that helped the culture with voting, and some people really are adamant about it. And I think now voting is very important right now. And I hope that people, and especially the young people, because they could make the vote turn, is the vote, you know, because we're living in. I call it perilous time. So let's talk a little bit about how art and and can help, or how art influences sort of that, whether it activism or or, um, how those two go together, I I read something that you wrote somewhere that was artists of the gatekeepers of the truth. And so how does how do you feel? Art can change, Make change, you know, w e d. The boys spoke upon that and he always said He said that all art is put. Be honest with you. I don't care if you're photographing a flower or anything, you know it is critical. So within my work, I recently with the 1960. Now I'm looking at that conceptual So but then it is critical to but me as a black woman, and I wanted to go to the ground toe, talk about my narratives and what I see through my eyes and I wanted to show that the culture is we're human. There was fear, you know? I saw the fear. I saw the sadness. I saw it all. So what I do Conceptual E. So I'm not trying to find look a imagery like the media's put now a black man on top of a car burning. I'm trying to look at moment where I could bring the viewer in and really look at the humanity off thes individuals that are out protesting. And I look at them as portrait because I actually shot with the portrait. Lynn and I shot and square, So I'm waiting for that moment. I'm not cooking on camera. So from a conceptual point of being, that's how I was when I went out to photograph protests. That's what I am looking for versus what they look like documentary. But I do believe that my work doesn't look like the media. Like, for example, we have the new wave with George Floor. And to be honest with you, I did not want to go out and photograph, and I said, I have a book out. I've been traveling. I've been to the university. I said, Is this work? I'm challenging myself as an artist? Is this work really speaking to the people? Are we really listening? You know, I have this ideology about universal brotherhood and humanity, but that's just I don't know if we can achieve that at all in this country, because is getting works is not getting any better. So I tried to use my work to speak to the masses of the people. But really, honestly, where I really my audience is six years, six year old Children because I think those of the informative years when they start learning about themselves and we have to teach, we don't have to do anything. But I would like to teach. I would like to teach, starting from that age about history and the truth, because we have two different ideologies in America to different America. One is the forefathers, everybody is equal. But that's not reality. The truth is that it's not so when are we gonna come to that point where we can start? We have to start somewhere. I feel that since George Loy black lives matter the hashtag black lives matter. People are using that for their agenda, for their own agenda. Okay, and tell me a little bit more than about the difference between when you first started covering black lives matter movement Pre George Floyd, you know, back to 2013 Trayvon Martin. Like you said, e mean, what what is different? I think what is different is that even though black I've been photographing for seven years, black lives matter have now become in the main stream. People are awakening realized that racism is here. That's something that we've never dealt with at all. And when we saw George Floyd his death on TV globally, so that struck a chord with everybody. And when he said he called out his mother, that really got to me, and I think everybody could relate to that. Take the color off of it. Everybody could relate to that. And I think that's what made black lives matter more into the mainstream since George Floyd. And when I did go out and start photographing, I wanted to find different things besides just photographing just the main protest. I have mothers that call me here in Atlanta, whose Children, who has fallen from police brutality they held the press conference. So I went to photograph that I had young black men and black men, period that was suited up in their suits and wanted to do a silent march at every needs a Baptist church here in Atlanta and walked to Martin Luther King's birth home. And that was so powerful. But the media doesn't want those images, Okay, they don't want to show those images. So I for me, I want thio. We were how we visually look at in the tree how we read in the tree. And so how do you go about getting that those different stories out there? Um, the like you said you're you have so much work that is focused around just humanity, uh, and and creating a different storyline of history. But also, you know, current day, that will be history for the six year old to, you know, are growing up right now. Um, is that is it Is it getting that work in front of a different audience or, you know, again, it's this, like concept of, um, like you said, mainstream media what people see. But how do we How do you get that work in front of people that it might change. I think for me as an artist and I've been called from different Um um, editorial people to do work, But I'm very adamant of how I shoot and what I want. If not, I will not do it. And I think that's a star. And I think as creative, I think there's a There's a moment in time where we can demand that. I just had an organization called me and they told me they said Sheila the work they were talking about the recent protests in which is that she said, Your work is so different from the other work that I see that's out there and they were on my instagram and so social media platforms is actually Ah, good place because when I was starting a photography in the late nineties, you didn't have that. You have prints and then a matter of a second, people could see those images, you know. So I'm very adamant as a creative artist of what I want and I stick. I stick to what I want, you know, and what I do, and it's not easy. It's not easy. It's hard because you feel like you're on the island by yourself. That's something in me. There's You gotta keep doing this because it is gonna help. Because I think about the younger people, like, six years old, because this country, I feel needs to go into a reversed and I'd like to go back then, um, two you're talking about when you first got, you know, into photography. Um What? What Led you there and And I would love Thio again. Talk about this sort of difference between just why you call yourself a photographic artist and what for our viewers out there. You know how you make that distinction? Eso Let's start with your journey into photography. Actually, I'm very shy. Uh, my father when I was young because I grew up in my younger years in Germany. I'm a daughter of a soldier and I would always stay in my room and just really wouldn't talk to me. I have other siblings, but they said that I was just so different. So when I am in college, it wasn't into my last year. I took a photography course, and that's what let me into photography, because I can speak through the photography. And so when I left, I graduated. I majored in, um, textile design, and I left when I went to Houston, Texas. But I had one camera, one lands, and that was filmed back, and I decided that I wanted to photograph hip hop culture, and in that era it was being strapped and coming from a family of my father being in the service. I was very naive. Actually. I would go hang out in the communities and tell everybody was a photographer, and that's how I started shooting rappers from that era and looking back on it now for me, that actually it's like I've done a 360 degrees because it taught me a lot being on the ground with the culture, because I was around the gun culture, all of that, okay? And they took me in. It was like a family because they told me this. They were I remember when, um, one of the guys they had a record company. He says, I need you to come over to the house and photograph of the CD cover. So I went, You have these guys come out with a K s and I'm asking them, Are they real guns? And they turned around and they looked at me and I said, What do you come from? You know, like a white girl in a black body. And so that's why I think I didn't have any fear and I was just naive about a lot of stuff. But that's where I learned because when I look back at it, hip hop was the voice of the community that they were the sin in. They were talking about these fatalities, all of that. And now we're I'm circle back around now on the ground doing the same thing. It's so interesting. I'm just trying to I'm just imagining you really right in my Who are you? Right? In my first show that I ever had a friend of mine, which was an artist in Houston, he saw the portrait. I was shooting portrait black and white of the Harvest, and he says, You need to be in the show and I guess back then he saw something in me and I didn't know anything about art. Galleries are exhibit, So the curator came and he looked at the word he said. Did you photograph that those? And I said Yes, he said, I thought you were gonna have some cute little fashion stuff. You see, we're women. We can't do that, You know that kind of thing. So that was my first entry into actually the art world and may not going to school learning about art or anything like that. I went to the retail stores because back then everybody was buying a lot of the what Jordan tennis shoes and all of that standing in lines so I would go to the stores and get the boxes and scram black all on the outside and the inside, and I would place those images into the box. And that was my presentation at the exhibit. And so I didn't go to the show the curator call, and he said she would have to come down and I said, No, I don't I said, A picture speaks for herself because I'm nervous. I don't like to be in front of people, so I actually went down. I'm gonna tell you, when I walked up to the door people at the door and that Now that's fair to me. I don't know why I've been on the ground. It's not. And one thing they asked me is this. There was an image that I took a rapper called Class C, and we were out in the woods. I was photographed and he had guns. And I had only one friend left in the camera, and I asked him to point the gun it and he says, You want me to point this gun at you? And I said yes. And he took that gun. He went, Why? And that was my last shot. So going back to the gallery, they asked me, Did he have a bullet in the gun? I said, I don't know why then that. And so that's actually what started my career into the art. Wow, that's a powerful experience. Yeah, and and bold, Um, for you know, you calling yourself a, you know, a timid and, you know, Or maybe you're not timid, but a shy. Um, yeah. Do you think that that shyness then helped you? I think so. And the naive nous actually to e um because when I think about when I started into being in the culture of all of what I was around. Um, it was like a little kid. I was curious thinking about a little kid and curious and they're moving around. I was like that. And what I did not show was here. That was the kid I wasn't afraid at all. Okay? And those young men would tell me stories and their narratives, and I was like, Wow! And they just broke down and they took me in as family. And so I think as an artist and as a photographer, even when I go into the neighborhoods like, I could give you an example, when I was involved, I was in Baltimore and I was there when Freddie Gray had passed that Sunday that Monday. That's when they started the protest. And I got out of the car. I went Thio West Baltimore, Have my cameras. There was the police station right there in in the community, taped off along with the police officers around. You could feel the tension in the air, but what really amazing was the man. I felt like I was in a third world country. I've been to Detroit, I've been there, but it was something about Baltimore. It look different to me. And when I approached some individuals, they immediately let into me and told me to get the hell out. We don't want you here, the media here or white people here. The only time when you come into our communities you wanna talk about something negative. So get help out here. Calls me again. This shallowness, I said, Well, I'm from Atlanta, the home of the civil rights movement. I'm like you. I may not live in your community, but I want to tell my story. They looked me up and down in the house, and then this woman came up to me and asked me for money. And I looked at her and I told her I said, Ma'am, I don't have any money, but I can give you We heard the cry. So that's how I Essen as an artist or photographer. That's how I'm going to the communities I tried to connect. That's what I do, and you can't show any fear it all. If not, they could sense all of that. But I do believe that shooting kept our culture and gangster rap back then really prepared me for what's going on Now. The work that I've been doing. I think there's so many lessons in that Sheila in terms of, um just okay, how you connect on a human level. Uh, even so, Ah, lot of people right now are talking about, like, whose story is it to tell and not you know, you You going into, you know, fly. You know, somebody coming in, flying in, telling the story and leaving, um, and and yeah, even though you weren't, you know, from Baltimore. But you are able to make that connection and build trust, uh, and, you know, as you were you know, back in the photographing, the hip hop culture Did you keep saying that you didn't show fear, but did you not feel fear? What does make you feel fear? Does anything make you feel talking in front of you and going on these shows? That's what they did. But when I'm in the know my have a strong father figure in the house, there's three girls. My father taught us to speak the truth. My father came from the Jim Crow era, and he came from a little town. My mother in him from a little town for hours out of Atlanta. WAYCROSS, Georgia. A lot of people say Waycross, where? No, its way across Georgia. And he spoke when he saw wrong, and they had to get um out of the town because he would have been lynched, my mother said. And that's how he got into the service. So with that being said, and I'm looking back, how I was raised in that dominant male bigger in my life, he talked. My father talked to us about that stuff, and he says, Always speak the truth And he said, If one door closes, another one opens and that's what I think. That's my foundation. And that's how I'm able to do what I do and so I don't have in there. I mean, I'll give you an example. I've lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and I don't know if you know about Stone Martin Heart. Do you know about still Martin? Part part? I believe so. But tell our audience. Yes, Stone Martin part is the part that has one of the largest granite in the country, and back in the, um, 19 hundreds. It was the second coming of the cake, and they have three Confederate soldiers carved in that stone. But that's when they did the second coming in 1915 with that work. And now it's a national art. It's not owned by the by the state. It's in an individual, and four million people actually visit that art every year. The Confederate flag is still there, and also the Confederate carving. That and I you don't ask me to see. I got lost and I got lost. What was the question? Because I brought up Stoneman. Oh, I know what it is. I know what it is. So two weeks ago I left and went to They have what you call Stone Mountain Village and I was trying to go to the Earth store and the world's were blocked off. I didn't know why I would, you know. And so I found another detour, and I ran up on a few people, got out of the car, and I want to talk to the police officer and he said, their protest. I said, Who are they? They just didn't say anything to make a long story short. It was the white nationalist Anti was an anti. What do you call them? Antifa. Yeah, Antifa and the 3% I don't know who the three percenters are. So I went up there because what I saw in the black folks, everybody was screaming. Yeah, at each, uh, I went up there and I said, You need to stop. I said, All you're doing is yelling at each other. And there was this young young kids and he's a white nationalist. I looked at him. I said, What were you wanna race? He said from Tennessee. And I says, When did you join join this organization At a young age? He said, I'm just so afraid that they're gonna wake my daughter. I said, How are you? He said, 26 years old And I said, Who are they? He said, Listen, he said, And you know what? Black people fought in the Civil War, and they didn't have a problem with the Civil War. And so I took a seat back. There's no reason for me to try to come back with him because ah, lot of it is is that we really don't have knowledge of each other. We only know each other to media. Yeah, you might have a black friend. I might have a white friend, but we really don't know each other at all. And what the All the journalists was out there and I'm not knocking journalists. But when I saw on the what is it with the articles Come out. All you see is everybody just screaming and yelling nature on. We're not listening. But for me to tell you that story because you asked me about fear I didn't have anybody had k from the 3% to the black everybody. And then any time somebody could have gotten very, very emotional and all of them would put their guns down. And we're living in that we're living in this error right now. All we saw what happened in Wisconsin, so yeah, but you can't have. I just say you can't have a fear. You just gotta deal with it. Actually, what I take from that story, Sheila, is that you're one of one of your powers. Is is empathy. Uh, and that, and and just showing what iss, um, and and, you know, kind of that staying neutral. Um, you know, in a way of, um, listening, Like you said earlier, being on the ground and listening. I'm curious if if we can, um, talk about, um, some of the other work that you've done a swell. Um, you I was looking at looking through your instagram feed. And you you've done big murals. Uh, and eso again, you're listening, observing, creating work, but then bringing it back into, um the public in a different way. The mainstream media. Can you can you talk to us to about some of the work that create that you created that became murals on how that affected? Yes. I feel that my work, it's for the masses of people and your one of the words that I did in 2000 and 19 for the NFL. Actually, it was an art organization that commissioned me out to do the work with other artists. I think it was about 10 of us and I received an email and they never did say anything about it was partnered with the NFL because if I knew that, I wouldn't do it because I felt a certain way about how they were treating Colin Kaepernick. And so I was invited to the press conference here in Atlanta. The mayor was there. The art organization was there and the host committee for the N F. L was there, and I didn't know who that person was at the time. And when I got there, I said they didn't e I am not gonna do this, okay? And so I got home. My sister called me and she said she would have got That's when you know you're gonna do a protest within. So I decided to go ahead and do it. And I was really searching because their thing waas about the civil rights movement then and now. Okay. And Richard Avedon. When I was going, I received my M f A at Georgia State. My father put me through school because he said, This is something that you like, So you're going to school. And so what happened was I was drawn really to Richard Africa. His work, because of his portrait and how he kiss portrait, had his punches for me was very powerful, and it spoke to me a lot. So I started looking on the website Googling Richard Africa, and I came across this image that he took in 1963 of Julian Bond in the snake student in Atlanta holding his nine month old daughter. It was fine, and I didn't know that he actually photographed the movement, and I didn't know that he photographed mothers that whose Children have fallen to the civil rights movement that were murdered. So when I saw that image, I said, I have to do that with moment So I went out here, baby, I met one of the mothers here in Atlanta whose child had fallen from police brutality. She introduced me Thio, Eric Garner's mother, to my wife, mother and Oscar. And so I brought them down along with the women here in Atlanta. And we had a convenient at an air B N B. It was very emotional. I've learned a lot from those mothers, and we photo active the same photograph. Not this is not actually the same, but I took that image in Vine City. But Richard Abadan, Thio, Julia by and Miss Car um, she actually Eric Garner's mother. She had on a white jumpsuit, and she was in the middle, and when she raped, extended her hands out like this. I knew that that was a shock. And so I just opposed those two images of Julian Bond and the mothers on that wall because I wanted to really talk about the mothers and the trauma and how the mothers and moving forward with that. And so that was my vision for the NFL, and actually the I don't know his name. I can't think of it right now. Falcons He really liked that image to Well, what a what a powerful, uh, way to approach an opportunity, you know, and create what you wanted to tell, um, and in and how amazing to that art can during the these mothers together in a way that then tells a different story through just that. I mean, I have that I can feel the image just based on your describing it. Yeah, the mothers from a lot of the different states call me because they wanted me to do that and to do the same thing in this city. But this is what I didn't tell you. It was hell. Get up. Why? I think because of the connotation of human mothers were and police brutality and people don't wanna talk about it. Okay? It was okay to put Julian Bond in the job, but we don't have this problem here, and you have to get permission from owners of the building to put it up. And I had hell and I had somebody that I knew in real estate in Miami that was talk to someone, and that's how I get. So as a artist, everything doesn't look just off, You know, like that. It's a lot of it's a lot more to it than just photographing and coming up with a concept, and it was very emotional for me because at the last minute I didn't think I was going to get it done. But I kept pushing and pushing and pushing. And when it was up, Clyde because to see that work of the mothers and Julian Bond holding his nine month old daughter on the wall. So if you ever visit Atlanta, they're like 30 ft high is I don't like to talk about my work, but that's amazing. To be honest with mothers, mothers are very important. Let's talk about your mother. We've talked about your father and his influence. How did your what was the influence? What is the influence of your mother on you? I didn't realize the influence of my mother until she pants You believing in that to pass last year. And I'm sorry. That's a year anniversary year anniversary in August. She was the one that shows the family together, and I didn't see that. Honestly, you think about women have we've always been overlooked and I'm a woman. Okay, but that woman had a lot of power. She's the one that really gave us the foundation. She kept us together. Um, mothers, women are the foundation. They birth we we give birth. Okay. And I'm really looking at that right now, but my mother was a very powerful person in her own way. She's I'm very much like her, Very subtle. And that's why I didn't see it. My father was like that, Okay, but I miss her dearly. But now I understand. I understand. Yeah. To campus together. There's Ah, there is this, You know, I could see it in you, the different types of power. Like you said, eso there's ah may be understated power that can come through in various ways. And I think that's the power of your art as well. And has as you've been talking about your ability, Teoh you know, be insert yourself into, um, cultures that others might subcultures that others might not be able. Thio, uh is and get Then put out this incredibly powerful work. Um, I'm really interested in the voices of Unheard. It's just like, what? My young American Siri's young people, if you think about young people, we were both young and everybody think they don't know talking about social media or whatever. So that's what I did the body of work of young Americans, because I really wanted to know what they thought about, um, there tell us more about this body of work for people that haven't seen it. Actually, in 2000 and eight, I had my first solo show at the High Museum of Art with young Americans and I photographed and the millennium's they call the Millennials, not Generation Z, the millennials from 18 to 25 starting in 2006, I wanted to know what they thought about America because the young people have this burden that they have to take from this country and Generation Z. It's the same with Generation Z, so I gave them a flag. They did whatever they want with the flag. I was the observer and they wrote a statement, and that was the on that work was in the beginning stages when he wasn't president then, but President Obama was thinking about running for office. And so the whole point of that work is I felt that young people were voiceless, nobody that sends to them. And I really wanted Thio here, what they were coming from when it came from this country and voting. And that was the purpose of that work. It's It's very powerful work as well. I'm actually re appropriating for the images. I have a commission at the Boston University. I'm creating a piece for the Mueller Library and I'm using for women, and I'm printing them upon a aluminum and it's gonna be placed in the library. And I've been having talks with young people to assume, and I'm using their text, and I'm gonna project that over with women because I feel that I'm calling that reverse because it's women that's gonna have toe rebirth. This country, that sounds amazing. And I look forward to seeing those hopefully, you know, on your instagram or I'm actually treating a website for that So it's gonna take Instagram. We're gonna try to do something big even though pieces physically at the library where we didn't write something virtually and it's gonna be around the election. So Okay, so coming up at the time of recording here in September of 2020 I your you mentioned early at the beginning, you are part of a collective the like, a 10 on. And I also know that you're a juror at the time of recording. Now, um, for a new like a initiative for women photographers can can we just give a moment to talk about that opportunity for people who may not have heard of it? Okay, women go and apply for this. There's gonna be a lot of people applying for around the world, but one thing to keep in mind, they want to see narratives. They just don't want to see portrait. They want to see. I mean, you could do portrait, but what's with those portrait? Is it about transgender or anything like that? But it has to be very strong work, and it has to tell a narrative, and it's from a woman's perspective with that, And you have I believe it's three other uh jurors on there, and we're all women. And I think this is so powerful that, like a is doing this because, like A is male dominated and photography is to be honest with you and to allow this toe happen with, like, a I think it's amazing and one of the ambassadors. So I encourage all of you to go ahead and apply for this and one thing to If you feel kind of like Oh, my work is not good enough, It's good to go ahead and apply because you don't know who is looking at your work and it may have potential. And me as a juror, I could say That's a note for me, okay? And so it's just encouragement, and I think just go ahead and need to fly. I think you have in tow October, and it's only 10 images you need toe upload, but think about stories that you from you, it doesn't have to be, I said. All artwork is political, but it doesn't have to be. What I've been doing is what's come from you come from your heart with and tell your story. And so again that is the like, a photo project 2020. They are awarding three photographers $10,000 plus a like a Q +22 Then complete another personal project that is expressed from from a female perspective and on. And so you could Google that and And check that out. And like you said, I really I appreciate that you are just encouraging everyone to apply. You don't know who's looking at your work, right? I mean, you talked. You talked about back at the beginning of your career. You know, when somebody saw your work curator and said, I think you should exhibit, you know, and now looking right, right, right. And I've always got that encouragement like that because I felt like Oh, no, my work is not good enough. Okay? But sometimes people see something within your work that you don't say, and all it is is, um just have the confidence and just do it like I could say dio it really is. If all of us could listen to that Nike in our heads every day, Just do it. Just do it way, Get blocked. I mean, no, we do get blocked, and I get blocked because when Cove it came, I think covert for me and it might speak to a lot of people to is making reflect back on, you know? And I'm actually challenging myself as an artist because my next body of work is gonna the landscape. I don't like landscapes. Okay, there, static. But I'm gonna challenge myself because I want to talk about what I've been talking about through all of my work. From a different perspective. That's that we weren't of the mind vision itself. Wow, that I mean, it's I'm trying to imagine you're doing that I look forward to see Oh, but that's the thing. You continue to challenge yourself as, and that's where that's where creativity comes from. That's where it's born. So ladies go toe like a camera, use a on their I g and click on the link and start thinking about what you wanna do and apply. Awesome. Sheila, It has been such a pleasure. Thio, have you on here? I'm creativelive and were photographers. I want Thio give you some shout outs of what people have been saying as we've been going through our conversation. Um, Leon had said early on. He's tuning in from Queens, New York. Is that glad you have Sheila on here? She is very important in the art and social justice world. Totally agree. Um, we have Lori who said commented when you were talking about your mother. We often see the power and influence of our mothers on our work until they're gone. Um, we have, uh, someone who's tuning in from Cyprus watching from L. A. We have Mumbai, India. We have the Philippines way. Have Florida Fort Worth, Texas. Marietta, Georgia s O. Lots of folks that have been tuning in thank you to all of you for tuning in and participating today. Sheila, where can people find you? Follow you. Stay tuned seeing some of the work that we've been discussing, but then also making sure they're going to see some of the upcoming workers. Well, you can visit my website at Sheila, pree bright dot com. And then you go to my I g. Is she pree bright? S h e p r e r I g h t and Facebook. You go to my Facebook to, but I'm really living on I g. I don't twitter. I can't get into, but I post you. So I post right on Twitter. Yeah, I do all that. And that's what I do with Facebook to. But I g is really what I really live on. E awesome. Encourage everybody to go follow Sheila, Check out at 1960 now as well. Is another one of your instagram handles? Yeah, my book and my book 1960. Now you can get it on Amazon. Um, just google it and get that. Yes. Supporting Sheila and her work. Thank you again So much, Sheila, for everybody out there. Thanks for tuning in. You can see what's coming up here on creative live TV by looking at the schedule below. If you're on our website, you can go to creativelive dot com slash podcast to see all of the past episodes of we are photographers. And then, of course, you can subscribe to wear photographers anywhere that you get your podcasts. So once again, signing off for now. But thank you again to Sheila. Pree bright. Thank you, Ken.

Class Description


Our weekly audio podcast We Are Photographers brings you true stories from behind the lens and behind the lives of your favorite photographers, filmmakers, and creative industry game-changers. From their struggles to their wins, host Kenna Klosterman discovers the real human stories about why they do what they do.

Listen to this and other audio episodes on our audio Podcast page.


In this episode, Sheila takes you behind the scenes on her #1960Now body of work and discusses the impact that art can have as a tool for activism and social justice. She explores her early days photographing Hip Hop culture and how her empathy and lack of fear have influenced her ability to be welcomed into the communities she photographs. Find out why Sheila believes if one door closes another will open.


Sheila Pree Bright is an acclaimed International Photographic Artist, speaker, and author. She is known for her series, #1960Now, Young Americans, Plastic Bodies, and Suburbia. Sheila is the author of #1960Now: Photographs of Civil Rights Activists and Black Lives Matter Protests which was also a feature in the New York Times. She was featured in the 2016 feature-length documentary film Election Day: Lens Across America. Sheila is a contributor & ambassador for The Leica 10 - a collective of artists who tell stories with pictures using music, poetry, movies, and other art forms as inspiration. Her work is included in numerous private and public collections; to name a few, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Library of Congress, National Center for Civil and Human Rights.