Exploring What It Means To Be An American

Sheila Pree Bright
Sheila Pree Bright

Acclaimed fine-art photographer Sheila Pree Bright added her voice and art to Telfair Museums’ exhibit, Complex Uncertainties: Artists in Postwar America, last week at the Jepson Center. Her lecture focused on civic engagement through her photographic series, Young Americans. As part of the event, her artwork will be installed in the Complex Uncertainties exhibit through December 10, 2018, along with a new rotation of works that are going on view from Telfair Museums’ permanent collection.

The Young Americans series, exhibited previously as a solo exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, examines the attitudes and values of Generation Y related to their American citizenship. The series shows diverse young Americans, who are new to the voting system, and explores ideas of what it means to be American. The sitters expressed their perspectives in a statement and posed in their chosen stance with the American flag.

In 2012 Bright took the Young Americans portraits to the streets of Art Basel Miami, wheat pasting eleven images in the Coconut Grove neighborhood on buildings and abandoned homes that often go unnoticed in the urban landscape. “Artists have always been at the forefront of social response,” said Rachel Reese, Telfair Museums’ Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “Over the past two years, we have been looking at how artists respond to the times in which they live through art making and visual culture and all of the intersectional spaces that can occupy. Sheila’s art will add another exciting and ‘of-the-moment’ element to that discussion.”

Through this ongoing installation, visitors explore the impact of artistic responses to specific historical events, as well as palpably empathize with the growing sense of uncertainty that artists address throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Bright earned her M.F.A. in photography from Georgia State University and describes herself as a fine art photographer and a visual cultural producer creating large-scale works on a wide-range of contemporary subjects. In 2013, while photographing under-recognized living leaders of the Civil Rights movement, she made a connection between today’s times and the climate of the 1960s that inspired her #1960Now project. 1960Now, examines race, gender and generational divides to raise awareness of millennial perspectives on civil and human rights.

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