About the Photographer
American, b. 1950
Interested in a landscape’s ability to represent the culture and history of an area, Deborah Bright investigates locations of historical and political significance. From 1978 until 1980, she completed a series of color photographs in and around Chicago’s industrial neighborhoods–including Goose Island, South Side, and Calumet–just as Chicago’s steel mills were closing. It was during this time that she photographed Untitled (1978) while attending a professional soccer game at Soldier Filed in Chicago, IL. Featuring hues caused by a fading sunset combined with the stadium’s field lights, Bright capturing the famous field well before its 2003 renovation, and portrays an eerie stillness in the midst of a large public spectacle.
Continuing on the topic of the historical context of a landscape, Bright portrays the tourist enclosure that engulfs Plymouth Rock in her images that comprise the Glacial Erratic Series (2000-03). In a series created during the same period, Manifest (2000-02), she portrays the remains of stone walls that mark the former perimeters of small farms in Northern New England and speak to America’s English ancestry and focus towards individual male property ownership. In 2005, she began the ongoing series Nakba, investigating the remains of former Arabic villages in Israel.
Roles of gender in photography and society have also been central themes in Bright’s work since the 1980s. Her series Dream Girls (1989-90) revisits early memories of characters by inserting herself into film stills of old Hollywood movies that captivated her attention as a child. In Being and Riding (1996-1999), Bright investigates memories of her childhood obsession with horses as a catalyst to explore stereotypical perceptions of gender.
Born in Washington, DC in 1950, Deborah Bright completed her MFA from the University of Chicago (1975). She has held exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Nederlands Foto Instituut, Rotterdam; Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa; and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her work is held in the public collections of the California Museum of Photography, Riverside; National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University in Cambridge, among others. Bright has received over 16 grants and fellowships, is the author of The Passionate Camera: Photography and Bodies of Desire (Routledge, 1998), and her essays on photography and cultural issues have appeared in Art Journal, Afterimage, Exposure, and a variety of photography books and periodicals. Currently, Bright is the Chair of Fine Art at Pratt Institute.