Sheila Pree Bright: Young Americans
September 1 - October 28, 2011
200 Hasel Street
The Sumter County Gallery of Art is proud to present the work of Sheila Pree Bright. Bright is a Fine Art photographer based in Atlanta, GA. Her large-scale works combine a wide-ranging knowledge of contemporary culture, while challenging perceptions of identity. Bright received national attention after winning the Santa Fe Prize from the Santa Fe Center for photography in 2006 for a series of work entitled The Suburbia Series. This series took aim at the American media's projection of the "typical" African American community and depicts a more realistic depiction of African American life. The series also explores the variations and similarities of an existence that subverts lifestyle and culture, particularly as it relates to Americanism. Bright has emerged as a new voice in contemporary photography with her portrayals of urban and suburban themes, as well as her provocative commentary about American beauty standards. Bright has called herself a cultural anthropologist. Bright’s inventiveness coupled with the sitter’s creativity allows her to create portraits that show both the universality and the distinctiveness of the human subject.
The Young Americans series of portraits, the body of work Sumter County Gallery of Art is presenting, uses 18 – 25-year-olds, and the American flag, to answer the question “What does it mean to be an American in the 21st century?” The themes of individualism and diversity sets Young Americans apart from other projects that have attempted to capture the spirit of America. Bright is aware of the distorted messages circulating about Generation Y and she sees Young Americans as a way to give this generation a voice.
Bright’s Artist Statement:
“Whether born in America or migrating from other countries, this ethnically diverse, politically engaged group of young people express a great sense of pride about their country. I’m giving them a platform and they are so excited to talk about America. Many told me that no one has ever asked them about this before. Bright sees this series as a key to understanding not only our present moment but also the future of America.”
The Young Americans project was underwritten by a grant from the Aetna Foundation and premiered as a solo exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in May 2008.