Polk Museum of Art explores the "meaning within" the work of celebrated New York photographer

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Polk Museum of Art explores the "meaning within" the work of celebrated New York photographer
John Pinderhughes, 'Untitled, Sanitation Worker' from the 'Harlem Portraits' Series.

LAKELAND, FLA.- The Polk Museum of Art welcomes the work of celebrated photographer John Pinderhughes into its galleries for an original, extraordinary retrospective exhibition entitled “Finding Meaning Within: The Photography of John Pinderhughes,” on view November 20, 2021 through February 24, 2022. Featuring four thought-provoking series of photographs, including his acclaimed “Harlem Portraits” and “Pretty for a Black Girl,” the exhibition showcases not only Pinderhughes’ broad reportorial eye but also his ability to find meaning and value in everything — and every person — he photographs.

Through the years, Pinderhughes has gained a reputation as an award-winning commercial photographer. As one of the most in-demand African-American photographers today, Pinderhughes has worked with a number of major business clients that include Sony, BMW, Chase Bank, and Publix Supermarkets, to name a few. Simultaneous with his commercial successes, Pinderhughes has been noted widely for his fine art career, as an artist capable of exploring identity and memory while also highlighting the beautiful, unique qualities of the photographic medium itself.

The photographs in “Finding Meaning Within” range from portraiture to abstractions, but their through-line — whether of a human sitter or still-life object — is Pinderhughes’ injecting each with a presumed backstory that pushes each viewer to dig more deeply into the intention behind each picture. Pinderhughes’ work is diaristic, but viewers are left to their own imaginations.

“Each image is basically a little diary. Sometimes you don’t even know what they are, but that’s not the point of the work. The point is they’re a diary, my diary, of friendship, love, and stories,” explained Pinderhughes. “I am a big believer in that you have to look at the work, be curious, draw your own conclusion about how you feel.”

In addition to the figural “Harlem Portraits” and “Pretty for a Black Girl” series, Museum visitors will be treated to Pinderhughes’ more meditative “Burnt Offerings” and “Quiet Scripture” suites. Focused on animal bones as the symbolic leftovers from a memorable meal or on New York acquaintances whose stories seek to be told, all four series will allow each viewer to explore the meaning behind the image itself. Not looking at these subjects solely for what or who they are but for their connotations, narrative possibilities, and reflections back on the viewer.

“This powerful exhibition, centered on individual identity and memory and the essential value of each, has been many years in the making, and we are thrilled finally to bring John Pinderhughes’ important photographic work to our community,” said Dr. Alex Rich, executive director and chief curator of the Museum. “The best art allows us to better understand others and ourselves, and John’s work insists that every person, every object, and every memory has a story worth examining or imagining.”

“Finding Meaning within: The Photography of John Pinderhughes” is on view at the Polk Museum of Art in Gallery II from November 20, 2021 to February 24, 2022.

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