VSW spotlights Joshua Rashaad McFadden 

click to enlarge VSW Salon chapbooks featuring Black leaders from various fields. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • VSW Salon chapbooks featuring Black leaders from various fields.
Visual Studies Workshop’s spring edition of its VSW Salon series is underway, having kicked off in January and continuing through May. Several events remain in the bi-monthly series, which includes film screenings, photo presentations, and artist talks.

Notably, this season includes a Mar. 16 appearance by award-winning photographer and RIT professor Joshua Rashaad McFadden, whose work explores Black identity, masculinity, the history of race, and the everyday dangers faced by Black people in America, particularly in dealings with law enforcement.

The event is a book launch and community discussion surrounding the release of the third and fourth chapbooks in the current edition of “In This Moment: Revolution Reckoning Reparation,” a project curated by artist Amanda Chestnut and produced by VSW Press. McFadden is the subject of the third book, with photos by Arturo Hoyte and an essay by Francesca Padilla.

“It’s a distillation of research and conversations with him into a profile that will show readers how he got to where he is today,” Padilla said.

The chapbook touches on McFadden’s family’s work at Kodak, his early interest in cameras, his entrance into social justice movements as an organizer, and how they coalesced into his portfolio.

Now in its second season, “In This Moment” is a project that pairs 10 teams of Black writers and photographers to spotlight 10 Black leaders in various fields working in Rochester. The first season was printed in 2020 and 2021, and featured musician and public defender Danielle Ponder, state Sen. Samra Brouk, and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra trumpeter Herbert Smith, among others.

click to enlarge Joshua Rashaad McFadden speaks at the opening of his photography retrospective. - FILE PHOTO
  • Joshua Rashaad McFadden speaks at the opening of his photography retrospective.
McFadden returns to VSW after the workshop launched his solo, multimedia show, “Evidence,” in 2020. In the interim, George Eastman Museum presented “Joshua Rashaad McFadden: I Believe I’ll Run On,” a retrospective on his work. McFadden has covered unrest in the streets as well as the memorials of those slain by police, and his images have appeared in The New York Times.

VSW Assistant Curator Hernease Davis will moderate a discussion with McFadden and other artists, and the chapbooks will be distributed for free at the event.

Other upcoming VSW Salon events include a March 9 spotlight on Ukrainian-born filmmaker Anna Kipervaser, whose experimental work is far-ranging in both theme (human and animal bodies, ethnicity, religion, colonialism, and the environment) and medium (16mm, digital video, CT scans, archival images, and optical printing).

There is also the April 13 event titled “Queer Games Bundle,” which VSW Salon Curator Tara Merenda Nelson said is equal parts pop-up arcade, poetry reading, and performance art.

“It’s a group of video game artists who make work as a collective around these queer standards of kind of inclusivity and in reaction against the traditions of violence-based video games,” Nelson said.

The “Queer Games Bundle” is released every June during Pride month and has raised a total of more than $360,000 in the past two years for local and global queer game developers, zine makers, and other media artists.

Nelson said the salon event will be dynamic and interactive, featuring video installations, VR, and video games and serve as a preview of what will be released this summer.

VSW Salon events take place at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays in the VSW Microcinema. Some events are preceded by an open studio with the current VSW residents beginning at 6 p.m.

While each event has a suggested donation of $10, the series is offered on a sliding scale price structure — attendees can choose the price they’re able to pay when they reserve tickets. VSW Members get in free. Visit vsw.org for more information.

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor. She can be reached at [email protected].
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