February 8th – March 10th 2007
James Harris Gallery is pleased to present Steve Davis’ epic series, Captured Youth. For the past 10 years, Davis’ work has investigated and oftentimes critiqued the way contemporary culture deals with people who reside at the margins, the so-called underbelly of our social classes. From people with mental and physical disabilities to incarcerated teens and senior citizens, Davis records the reality of lives we seldom see and tend to neglect.
In stark contrast to the posed scenes that are fashionable in photography today, Davis’ projects are more akin to straightforward documentary image making. The palpable relationships the photographer has developed with his subjects – some of the series span more than 10 years – gives the work a rare and poignant honesty.
In the series on view at the gallery, Davis has photographed incarcerated teens in Washington State correctional facilities. Continually struck by the simultaneous vacuity of these institutions and the intensity and passion found in the faces of its young residents, Davis records both the teenagers and the stark architectural spaces that frame these young people’s lives. In their portraits, we read sorrow, pain, and sometimes even regret across these teenagers faces. Just as often pride, arrogance and anger come across. In contrast to these forlorn but sometimes hope-filled faces, the images of the prison architecture have little in terms of sanguinity; inhumane living environments and desolate conditions expose the reality of the situation. Together as a series Captured Youth thus forces us to consider some of the complicated social issues asking us how and why do our youth end up living, laughing, and suffering in exile.
We encourage anyone interested in further resources regarding youth justice to visit the Center for Children and Youth Justice website. Under the leadership of Justice Bobbe J. Bridge, the Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping reform the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in Washington state.
Steve Davis is the Coordinator of Photography and faculty member at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, and is in the collections of the George Eastman House, the Tacoma Art Museum and the Musee de la Photographie in Belgium. He is also a recent recipient of an Artist Trust Grant.