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The Mesa Public Library Art Gallery currently has presents 70 photographic portraits by Don Usner of participants in the Lannan Foundation’s Readings and Conversations literary series of the last 15 years.
All the portraits are black and white and eloquently reveal the personality of each author. The library presents this exhibition along with a selection of books by each author and digital access in the gallery to podcasts and video casts of the events on the Lannan Foundation website, lannan.org.
As part of the Author’s Speak Series Usner will give a talk Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The exhibition will be on display until Dec. 31.
The exhibition is made possible with support from the Lannan Foundation and the Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries. As the Lannan website states, “The Foundation is particularly interested in projects that encourage freedom of inquiry, imagination, and expression,” an aim so closely allied with that of libraries.
The exhibition’s opening reception was for the public on Nov. 8 with Usner discussing his work.
Native New Mexican photographer Usner has been making portraits of Lannan Foundation guest speakers since 1997.
Usner has photographed hundreds of characters, capturing on film the personalities of writers, poets, Nobel Laureates and social justice activists. From Toni Morrison to Gore Vidal, Lawrence Ferlinghetti to Amy Goodman, and Susan Sontag to Robert Creeley and Cornel West, Usner’s subjects include many of the 20th century’s most celebrated thinkers. His work can be seen on donusner.com.
Usner was born in Embudo, near Taos, in 1957 and spent his youth in Los Alamos and Chimayó. His family has a long history in the Rio Grande Valley and its landscape and history have been a significant inspiration in his photography.
Usner’s work has been presented in several exhibitions and publications, including Sabino’s Map: Life in Chimayó’s Old Plaza and Route 66 On Tour: Legendary Architecture from Glenrio to Gallup. His other publications include, with William de Buys, Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve and a collection of folk tales told by his grandmother, Benigna’s Chimayó, Cuentos from the Old Plaza.
Usner has served as Lannan Foundation’s official photographer since 1997.
The Lannan Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity and creativity through projects which support contemporary artists and writers, as well as inspired Native activists in rural indigenous communities.
The Foundation recognizes the value of the creative process and is willing to take risks and make substantial investments in ambitious and experimental thinking.
Understanding that globalization threatens all cultures and ecosystems, the Foundation is particularly interested in projects that encourage freedom of inquiry, imagination and expression.
The Foundation supports this mission by making grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of contemporary visual art, literature, indigenous communities, and cultural freedom.
The Foundation also gives awards and fellowships to writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and in the area of cultural freedom. Awards recognize individuals for extraordinary work in their fields.
Fellowships provide time and support to continue with or to complete specific projects and also recognize those who show potential for future outstanding work.