New York-based photographer Builder Levy will present a public lecture on Thursday, February 25 in room 249 Fine Arts Building, in association with his exhibition Appalachia USA now showing in the FSU Museum of Fine Arts (February 12 – March 27, 2016). Levy presents life and labor in coal mining communities in this exhibition, which was originally organized and exhibited by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in 2015. The Museum of Fine Arts will be open to the public on Thursday until the lecture begins at 7 pm.
Levy, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, creates hand printed gold-toned gelatin silver print and platinum print photographs that blend fine art, social documentary, and street photography “to produce works of power and beauty.” He was born in Tampa in 1942 and raised in Brooklyn. As a student at Brooklyn College, Levy thought of himself as an abstract expressionist, but by the time he had obtained his Master’s degree in art education from NYU, he was focusing mainly on making photographs in his need to be more deeply immersed in the social realities of his time, and in his desire to physically create a new consciousness in and of the world.
Appalachia USA, Builder Levy’s new book, reprints 69 of his photographs from the coalfields. Some portray historic coal towns like Welch, along with pictures of nearby tipples and churches. The book offers an array of powerful images of men and women working underground in mines across the coalfields in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, in places like Mingo and Wyoming counties. Other pictures show miners heading home after the end of their shifts in places like Kayford Branch Mine on Cabin Creek.
– Paul J. Nyden at Charleston Gazette-Mail
Levy’s work is in more than eighty collections including the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, International Center of Photography, Brooklyn Museum, The Ringling Museum of Art, and Victoria and Albert Museum.
His photographs have appeared in more than two hundred exhibitions, including more than fifty one-person shows. The High Museum of Art included him in Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968.
Levy photographed life in coalfield Appalachia over more than four decades. For almost fifty years he photographed life in inner-city communities, where, for thirty-five years, he was a NYC teacher of at-risk teens.
This Department of Art Visiting Artist Lecture is funded through a grant administered by the Council on Culture & Arts for Leon County.