• Deana Lawson, Living Room, Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2015, ink-jet print on board, 35 × 45".

    Deana Lawson

    Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
    3750 Washington Blvd.
    January 27–April 16, 2017

    Curated by Kelly Shindler

    Deana Lawson once described her inspirations as ranging from leather-bound family albums and lace curtains to acrylic nails and the A train. Her large-format photographs—mostly of strangers, many paired and in various stages of undress—are classically composed and lavishly detailed. Some of Lawson’s subjects hail from her Brooklyn neighborhood, but an interest in family, community, and the African diaspora has taken the artist to the American South, Haiti, Jamaica, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia. Lawson’s portraits (several of which will be concurrently on view in this year’s Whitney Biennial) are frequently characterized as “intimate.” Yet the particular access Lawson is granted does not exist solely where skin grazes skin or in the cramped quarters of a family’s studio apartment. Rather, the familiarity and affinity can be innate, even historical, persisting in the psyches of those separated by space and time but linked by collective knowledge and memory.