Soth is a prominent photographer from Minneapolis that's been nationally recognised for his large scale projects of American life. His work has been part of major public and private collections, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Walker Arts Center.
Chemistry with strangers
Shooting only in black and white film, his images have a raw and humanistic feel to them. New York Times editor, Hilarie M. Sheets wrote in an article that he has made a "photographic career out of finding chemistry with strangers."
I think her statement is quite true. As I walked through the gallery and looked at his images, I could feel myself getting pulled into the lives of these people I will never meet or know. The people he photographs aren't thin, beautiful models in provocative poses - they are normal, blue-collar Americans with lives far removed from big cities.
Going back in time
Though some of the images seemed mundane at first, with more observance, I began to feel my humanity, and see small pieces of myself in his subjects. Most notably, the images of a high school prom. It was not too long ago that I too, was an awkward teenager dancing in their place. As I looked at his portraits of these strangers, I found myself wishing that I could have met them too, and asked them more about their lives - were they happy? And why did they let Alec take their photo?
As people living in such a digital age, it was humbling to see images of average Americans shot as they are, not as we make them to be in ads or editorials. Alec's work reminded me of Bill Viola's quote that, "Art is, for me, the process of trying to wake up the soul. Because we live in an industrialized, fast-paced world that prefers that the soul remain asleep.
I drew much inspiration from his work and hope you'll check out more of it on his website: http://alecsoth.com/photography/
- Colleen -