Field Notes

Emmanuel College Residency – Day 60

My departure from Boston on Friday, August 11 seemed to arrive much faster than anticipated. I was in Boston for nine weeks as an artist in residence at Emmanuel College, but those nine weeks really flew by. It was a fantastic summer and a great opportunity. I thought it would be nice to sum up what I worked on over the summer.

Peace Be Upon You

I wanted to produce new work while in Boston and this is the work that resulted from the residency. I visited over a half dozen mosques in the Boston area, photographing interior and exterior spaces as well as details within the mosques. To accompany these architectural and still life images I made portraits of over 3 dozen individuals in makeshift studies in the mosques and solicited written testimony from each participant to share their experiences and stories of being Muslim in the United States and the Boston area. It was an incredible experience and I learned a ton.

The Muslim community in Boston is quite large and active–perhaps due to the large number of universities in the area–and I found its members to be incredibly warm, inviting, and open to sharing. I would encourage anyone visiting Boston to visit the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, it is a very welcoming and beautiful space. Of the numerous remarkable people I met one person who particularly made an impression on me with her insight and world perspective was illustrator and Lesley University student Sara Alfageeh (who’s photograph appears at the top of this post). Thank you again for meeting and talking with me and allowing me to make your portrait.

As you can infer from reading my first Field Notes post from this artist residency, the focus of my work in Boston shifted as the summer progressed. This was a direct result of the time I spent within the Muslim community and many in-depth conversations I had with various individuals who took an interest in my project. A dialogue was sparked and it led to a much stronger experience for me and more meaningful work.

I am not sure yet what is next for this work. I need to edit it a little bit and then will probably pitch it to a few publications. We shall see.

Nothing Can Steal What We Build – Book Dummy

For about a year and half I photographed in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester where Freddie Gray lived and was arrested in 2015. For the past year I’ve been working to turn that body of work into a photography book. I had made a book dummy late last year, but needed to spend a good deal of time refining and reediting the work. While at Emmanuel I was able to really focus on this, finalizing the edit and creating a really high quality book dummy that I can start to show to people. The next step is to solicit an introduction for the work. This is what I worked on for the bulk of my time in the first few weeks of the residency.

Good Earth – Exhibition & Catalog

Later this month my first solo exhibition of work opens at the Greg Hardwick Gallery at Columbia College in Columbia, Mo. I’ll be showing work from my project Good Earth, which explores the legacy of lead mining in the Old Lead Belt in southeast Missouri. While at Emmanuel I was able to prepare the entire exhibition, finalize all of the prints, and ship everything to Columbia. I also had the opportunity to create an artist book to serve as the exhibition catalog for the show. It is 84 pages and includes 38 photographs. Photographer Joe Johnson was kind enough to write an introduction. I was not able to produce as many copies as I would have liked, but I will have a few available in the coming months.

Artist Books

I was also able to produce editioned copies of two forthcoming artist books with work from my Plato Project (No Gods, No Kings, Only Man) and some work I shot earlier this year along the U.S. / Canadian border (An Edge to America).

While in Boston I posted daily updates to Instagram (Day 1 – Day 59) with notes about what I’m working on. Please follow along if you like @benhoste