For three years, American photographer Lydia Panas invited families to stand before her lens. She was curious to see what would happen. Nothing was deliberate or planned. These diverse groupings of children and adults, relatives and close friends, stood graciously before her, taking positions in relationship to each other, and to the camera. The resulting images from the project are engaging and highly charged psychological family portraits that are gathered together in the artist’s debut monograph, The Mark of Abel (Kehrer Verlag, February 2012).
The portraits by Panas do not represent individuals as much as they explore questions about how we see ourselves, what we feel, and how we connect to each other. It is the details in the images that provide us with clues to understand the subtle nature of her work, and her ability to masterfully depict the delicate underpinnings of family dynamics. Her subjects are people she knows — family, friends, and acquaintances. She asks them to bring along their own family members or close friends; people with whom they share a history.
Panas’s subjects arrange themselves naturally, with minimal direction. She carefully watches their postures, gestures, and glances. It is a combination of strength and vulnerability that she is looking for, and that makes her respond. “They are complex emotions that guide us,” writes Panas. “Sometimes what we try to conceal is the most revealing. I am interested in what we know, but do not see. My intention with this series is to show us ourselves.”
The Mark of Abel
Until April 15, 2012
Allentown Art Museum
31 North 5th Street
Allentown, PA 18101
Falling from Grace
Until April 1, 2012
WallSpace Gallery, Santa Barbara, Ca.
113 West Ortega Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
The Mark of Abel
Athens House of Photography, Athens, Greece
Essays by Maile Meloy and George Slade
96 Pages, 52 Color Photographs
Hardcover, 9 1/2 x11 7/8 inches (30 x 24cm)
96 pages, 55 color photographs
ISBN 978-3-86828-229-0 USC