About the Photographer
American, b. 1961
Over the past twenty-five years, photographer Mark Steinmetz has quietly established himself as one of our most gifted observers of American life. Passing time in cities like Knoxville, New Orleans, Memphis, and Atlanta, Steinmetz creates lyrical yet gently forceful black and white photographs of individuals as they make their way through their respective surroundings. Steinmetz's various projects, each with its own direction, brush up against the hopes, ideals, and dissapointments that lie at the heart of life for ordinary people. Critics have frequently observed a sense of isolation permeating Steinmetz's photographs, as if these people's struggles and successes were all their own, yet he finds in his subjects a certain grace and demonstrates an underlying sense of compassion––even a certain optimism.
Steinmetz's earlier work more openly touches on America's communal ideals, examining the traditions that help structure the process of growing up. In addition to documenting childhood experiences like summer camp, Steinmetz completed a series of photographs between 1986 and 1989 about Little League Baseball. Kids are introduced to baseball, dubbed "America's pastime," at a young age, and as these photographs communicate, it is an activity that encourages both team play and individual acheivement. Steinmetz's pictures center on the young players, with coaches and parents appearing as secondary figures, and he frequently shoots from a low angle that a mimics a child's perspective. In the process, foreshadowing the qualities of his later work, he conveys a sense of individual feeling in each image, ranging from displays of enthusiasm to boredom, confidence to hesitancy.
Mark Steinmetz completed a BA from Wesleyan University (1982) and an MFA from Yale University (1986). He has taught at Emory University, Harvard University, Sarah Lawrence College and Yale University. He resides in Athens, Georgia.