In the Company of Black is a book of photographs by multi-disciplinary artist Cecil McDonald Jr. For the past seven years, McDonald has developed a body of work focused on what he describes as “extraordinarily ordinary” people: educators, artists, administrators, business owners, teachers, and students. “I’m bringing together images of Black people who represent everyday folks.” Complemented with an essay by Tempestt Hazel and poems by avery r. young, McDonald’s In the Company of Black addresses and responds to the vast inaccuracies of Black humanity depicted within American society.
“When it comes to Black people, America is fascinated with extreme poles: either showing victims of violence, pain, and poverty (Black misery) or famous athletes and entertainers, and icons of popular culture (Black exceptionalism). This false dichotomy denies Black people the individuality and full spectrum of humanity that is so readily offered to the white population in this country. The photographs that I’ve been making ask the question: where are the people who make up the space in between? Here they are, they are important, they must be seen!” — Cecil McDonald, Jr. on In the Company of Black.
Published by Candor Arts in a handmade artist book edition of 100 copies, In the Company of Black will be released on April 28th at Filter Photo; a larger softcover edition is scheduled to release in the Fall of 2017. Books will be available for purchase and signing. The artist will share a few words on the project and there will be a reading of some texts from the book.
Cecil McDonald Jr. uses photography, video, and text to explore the intersections of masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of Black culture. McDonald studied fashion, house music, and dance club culture before receiving an MFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor and a teaching artist at the Center for Community Arts Partnerships. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and the Harris Bank Collection. He was awarded the: Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, The Swiss Benevolent Society, Lucerne, Switzerland, Residency and the 3Arts Teaching Artist Award. McDonald participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in July 2013. Most recently, McDonald completed the DCASE residency where he began work on his most recent body of work Cuts and Beats, a project that montages performance photography from the floors of dance festivals and nightclubs with late 19th-century imagery from stage and theater advertisements, sheet music covers, and celebrity portraiture.