About the Photographer
Middlebrook, Willie Robert
Willie Robert Middlebrook’s portraits are full of energy, with faces peering from beneath surfaces that suggest erosion, graffiti, peeling billboards and, ultimately, a symbolic struggle for identity. His work enlarged public perceptions of the African American community through painterly depictions of its people and places. "Family Collage" is exemplary of what the artist called photographic paintings, well-composed photos that he made more evocative by brushing the negatives with developing fluid, a method later replaced by digital enhancement.
Willie Middlebrook held an Associate of Arts degree in Art/Photography from Compton Community College and a Certificate in Design from the Communicative Arts Academy. He received many honors during his lifetime, including two Visual Artist Fellowships in photography from the National Endowment for the Arts, and many commissions for public works including the Los Angeles Metro Expo/Crenshaw Station. His work has been collection by major museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem and LACMA. His legacy includes teaching at many institutions from Watts Towers Arts Center to the California State University Los Angeles as well as being on the advisory committee for the Photography Department at his alma mater, Compton Community College.