Photographer Dawoud Bey spent five years traveling to high schools across the country photographing teens from across the economic, racial, and ethnic spectrum. Class Pictures presents 40 of his large-as-life photographs on view at the Chrysler Museum of Art March 26 to August 6 in the Frank Photography Gallery.
Each portrait is accompanied by a commentary in which the sitters describe themselves and their lives. The result is a touching, funny, and sometimes harrowing portrait of American youth at the dawn of the 21st century.
Bey began his career in 1975 with a series of photographs titled Harlem, USA based on his family’s experiences in the community. His work has been displayed in or is among the permanent collections of museums in the United States and Europe including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Barbican Centre in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art, where his works were also included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial.
Bey was born in Queens, New York, and he studied at the School of Visual Arts. He completed his undergraduate work at Empire State College and earned a master’s degree in fine art at Yale University. He is a former Guggenheim and National Endowment of the Arts fellow and is currently a professor of art at Columbia College Chicago, where he has taught since 1998. For more information and to read Bey’s blog, visit www.dawoudbey.net.