Michael Pry

(b.1957; resides Salem, WI)

In August and September of 2003, hundreds of thousands of Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts came together in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company. Michael Pry was there as well, photographing attendees in a 12-by-12 foot white tent with a large-format camera. The resulting 5-by-7 inch negatives are printed only slightly enlarged, maintaining in crisp detail the wisps of a long white beard, the fraying edge of an old shirt, or the mottled freckling of weathered skin. This small scale also promotes a certain intimacy with a population perhaps not known for its approachability. Interested more in the passion of this sub-culture than its accessories, in capturing the intensity and individuality of each subject, Pry keeps distractions to a minimum: he photographs his subjects singly or in pairs, against the same plain dark backdrop, and asked to sit on the same simple white-frame chair. The overall darkness of the prints, while conjuring a certain mystery, also intensifies the brilliant highlights and sharp contrast which both catch the eye and signal the photographer’s intention to not only document but interpret these riders and their culture. Pry himself has yet to ride a Harley-Davidson machine.

Michael Pry was born in Chicago in 1957. He began making pictures at the age of 12, and by 13 was invited ringside to photograph Muhammad Ali. More recently, his pictures have been exhibited at Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, Wisconsin (2004); Wisconsin Photography 1, Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin (2004); Elk River Arts Alliance, Elk River, Minnesota (2004); Icebox Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2005); and Wisconsin Arts Board, Madison Wisconsin (2005). His pictures of Harley-Davidson riders were published in 2004 by Amigo Press in the book Harley Nation.

Skye Eyes(from the series Harley Nation), 2004Skye Eyes(from the series Harley Nation), 2004
Barry (from the series Harley Nation), 2004Barry (from the series Harley Nation), 2004

Museum of Contemporary Photography

at Columbia College Chicago
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