In the vein of “doing” more than “thinking” more, I thought no more than a millisecond to decide on grabbing my 15 year old son to drive East, as our first post-Covid, fully vaccinated trip. Our destinations: New York City and the beach. And staying at my mom’s in New Jersey makes it all pretty easy and cheap.
It has been over 20 months since I’d been in New York and historically that’s a pretty long stretch between trips. It has been even longer, about 5 years, since my son had been in NY and he hardly remembered the last trip. We did lots of walking through Times Square through the Meatpacking District through Hudson Yards. We went through The Whitney Museum, The Highline, The Vessel, and Hudson Yards mall. For my son the highlight was seeing all the sights at Times Square and climbing the Vessel, one of the highlights for me was being at the Whitney. And while it was great to peruse in a museum again, I particularly swooned over an exhibit by the photographer, Dawoud Bey. Not only was I fascinated by his technique but they are also particularly beautiful portraits. Mostly, his exhibit was 35mm black and white film but some of his portraits were made by Polaroid transfers, which is a complicated process. I’ve tried to make Polaroid transfers myself and it’s a tricky process working simultaneously between art and science. I found it to be pretty frustrating so I stopped trying. (Hmm, maybe I need to try Polaroid transfers again?? Just do it, don’t think about it, right?)
His portraits are stunning. Here are a couple of the Polaroid transfers:
Suffice it to say, Bey’s work was inspiring to me. It left me with lots of thoughts in my head about his work and my own work. It was definitely an education for me and it was an exhibit that I really needed to see, even though I didn’t know I needed to see it.
Thank you New York, thank you Dawoud Bey. I needed it all.