September 7 through October 14, 2006
Opening Reception, Thursday, September 7, 7 – 9 p.m.
The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present the photographs of Mark Laita, in his first one-man show in Los Angeles. His exhibition, Created Equal, offers a riveting photographic essay that documents the people who make up America's diverse culture. Presented in a diptych format, and available in three sizes including life-sized photographs, the images exert striking comparisons as they explore issues of social, economic, and gender difference and similarity within the United States.
Laita states: "At the heart of this collection of portraits is my desire to remind us that we are all equal, until our environment, circumstances or fate molds us and weathers us into whom we become. America's extremes seem to be getting more severe. The chasm between the rich and poor continues to grow; the clash between conservatives and liberals is stronger than ever; even good and evil seem more polarized. Created Equal attempts to remind us that we are all connected, no matter how separate our paths may be."
Completed over the course of seven years, with each of the lower 48 states represented, Laita intentionally photographed his subjects against a muted backdrop avoiding unwanted influence of background elements. By extracting them from their typical surroundings, Laita asserts the idea that we are all equal and interchangeable. Created Equal is a powerful presentation that is not only visually appealing but also sheds light on notions of identity, class and lifestyle. In describing the project's focus, Laita explains "By documenting the archetypes from our country's many diverse cultures, my intention is that this collection becomes some sort of archive of the tragic and wonderful realities of American society."
In 1999, Mark Laita began his journey documenting the varied and iconic American archetypes. In the spirit of Edward Curtis, August Sander and Richard Avedon, Laita's survey of "human types" is an extension and a new interpretation of their past photographic methodology. Laita's subjects were usually found by simply showing up in a city or town and looking for someone interesting to photograph. Ultimately, it was through conversations with auto mechanics, barbers, or police officers that led to some serendipitous meeting where a bootlegger, farmer, or pimp was unearthed.
In describing his casting process, Laita explains, "I am particularly interested in individuals who wear their occupation, lifestyle or region's burden on their faces and bodies." By photographing recognizable characters in society, it is highly surprising to find that the relationships between these seemingly opposite figures are oftentimes closely related. Each portrait's lighting, background, cropping and camera angle is intentionally consistent, creating work that reveals unlikely connections and contradictions through coupling.
Mark Laita grew up in the Midwest cities of Detroit and Chicago, where he discovered photography at the age of fifteen. As a teenager he devoted all his time to photography, eventually working on a series of portraits of Chicago's homeless people. Thirty years later that series has matured and expanded into Laita's Created Equal. After earning a degree in photography from Columbia College and the University of Illinois/Chicago Mark built a successful commercial photography business with studios in Los Angeles and New York City.
Mark Laita's Created Equal exhibition catalog is available through the Fahey/Klein Gallery.
Press images available upon request.
148 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036