Summer Reading List | Lisa Kereszi
Summer Reading List | Lisa Kereszi
An entertaining and thoughtful read about the wildly weird and wonderful artist and writer associated with the gothic impulse in children’s literature. Dery deftly describes his work (over 100 books, not to mention a number of plays), obsessions (ballet, collecting), and life (probably gay, but determinedly asexual). Gorey is a role model for the life an artist, working only on things of interest—commercial or otherwise—fashioned in such a way that he could sustain his style over a lifetime. Questions about his sexuality were always waved off, but Dery wonders if he was perhaps ahead of his time, not entrenched in a self-censoring closeted-ness, but instead with a sort of post-identity-politics stance, that he was this particular, unique person, and not this or that binary pigeonhole.
I am not going to sugar-coat it—this book is very hard to read. The abuse detailed by the author, which she received over a long period of time from her brother and father (and mother in an indirect way), is extremely difficult to hear (and bear), even with the happy ending of academic and financial success. This memoir is by a woman who escaped an extremely closed society of midwestern Mormon survivalists to educate and find herself. Never having stepped foot in a formal classroom until she was 17, she pushes herself up and out of an emotional, psychological, and physical nightmare to graduate from Cambridge after attending a fellowship program at Harvard. I found the part about dealing with her family in her new role and identity particularly moving, and something anyone who has moved from one station in life to another can relate to in an intimate way. Her journey of self-discovery is relevant to anyone who salvages something to create beauty and meaning.
Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American
John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, & Celeste-Marie Bernier, with an epilogue by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and afterword by Kenneth B. Morris Jr.
I am embarrassed to say that I did not know of Douglass’s deep interest in and strong support of the medium of photography until only this Spring, when academic Sarah Elizabeth Lewis gave a moving and inspiring commencement speech at Yale’s art school in which she quoted from his multiple lectures on the subject in the mid-19th century. He was the most-photographed person, and made it a point to be because he understood that photography, as an indexical medium, was the great equalizer, democratic at its core. By putting out there the image he controlled, he felt he could combat racism and prejudice by staring back at the viewer and looking him (and her) in the eye. This book details how he used the medium to “assert black humanity” before, during, and after the Civil War, and it includes not only his writings on the subject, but each and every known photograph made of him, some published here for the first time. This is a must for any scholar and lover of photography and history.
Calypso by David Sedaris
Darkly funny and poignant personal essays, including one about the loss of a troubled sister to suicide
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D.Vance
The story of a self-made rise from a lower class background, a companion to Educated
Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have by Tatiana Schlossberg
A book for everybody to help reexamine their daily habits, released in time for Labor Day on August 27
Lisa Kereszi is a photographer who was born in 1973 in Pennsylvania and grew up in Suburban Philadelphia to a father who ran the family auto junkyard and a mother who owned an antique shop. She teaches at the Yale School of Art, her alma mater, where she is also the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Art. Her work is in many private collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Study Collection at the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others. Her work has been included in group shows at the Whitney Museum, MoMA, the Aldrich Museum, the Bronx Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Queens Museum of Art and the Wadsworth Atheneum. She is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, where she has had 5 solo shows, the most recent one earlier this summer. Solo museum shows include the 2017 exhibition, Joe’s Junk Yard, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, installed in the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead in Michigan. Three monographs of her pictures are in print: Fun and Games with Nazraeli Press, 2009, two with Damiani Editore: Fantasies, 2008 and Joe’s Junk Yard, 2012.
Her editorial work has appeared in many books and magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Nest, New York, Harper’s, TIME, W, The London Telegraph Sunday Magazine, Details, GQ, Newsweek, and others. Her pictures regularly appeared in The New Yorker’s “Goings on About Town” section for several years. She was granted a commission to photograph Governors Island by the Public Art Fund, which culminated in shows at the Municipal Art Society and the Mayor’s Office at City Hall, a 2004 exhibition catalog titled Governors Island, as well as a semi-permanent installation on the island. Curatorial projects include 2014’s exhibition and catalog, Side Show, at the Edgewood Gallery at Yale, which investigated the intersection of carnival sideshow culture and visual art, and Little Ghosts at New Haven’s Institute Library in 2013, an installation that drew from her collection of 19th century cartes de visite portrait photographs made exclusively on Chapel Street. Kereszi lives and works near New Haven, CT, and is working on two series about family—both the old and the new.
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