Shelter Living: Brooklyn, NY, 2017, archival digital photography, 24” x 36

This week we welcome Ann Rosen. Rosen graduated from SUNY at Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and the visual studies workshop with a master’s degree in fine arts, studying with Nathan Lyons, Joan Lyons and John Wood. She studied printmaking, photography and alternative photographic processes.

She has received residencies at Artpark, New York, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, in Virginia, as well as Henry Street Settlement,  in New York City. Rosen has published several books in connection with her projects: In the Presence of Family: Brooklyn Portraits, 2009; and Revisiting in the Presence of Family: Brooklyn Portraits, 2018.  In 2016, she received a grant from the Puffin Foundation to expand her work teaching digital photography to women living in shelters.

Shelter Living: Brooklyn, NY, 2018, archival digital photography, 24” x 36

Her exhibitions include the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Museum of the City of New York, Henry Street Settlement, Five Myles Gallery and others. Solo exhibitions include Franklin Furnace, NYC; and the NYC Public Library, Grand Army Plaza. Her photographs and books are represented in numerous permanent collections including the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art Library, NYC; the Albright-Knox Gallery and Library, Buffalo, New York; Burchfield-Penney Art Center, also in Buffalo; and the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza.

Shelter Living: Brooklyn, NY, 2018, archival digital photography, 24” x 35

“In 2012, I began a project to address women’s oppression, narrowing my focus to the homeless crisis among economically disadvantaged women. When ‘shelter living’ or ‘homelessness’ is referenced, a negative social stigma often comes to mind, which includes descriptive words such as uneducated, unruly, crazy, threatening, and dirty. Thoughts of positive social standards such as productive, employed, intelligent, witty don’t enter into the picture. Poverty and oppression led these women to this point in their lives. They suffer from an array of health and social problems related to substance abuse, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and residential instability. Armed with this awareness, I began creating Shelter Living, with the goal of changing stereotypical perceptions.

Nicola & her daughter, HousingPlus Resident, 2022, archival digital photograph, Mother’s Day photography workshop

I developed a method to teach digital photography to the women who lived in Brooklyn, Asbury Park and Rochester shelters. The women wanted their picture taken once my portrait photography skills were discovered. I use black and white to impart a more stark reality. I employ traditional photographic portrait techniques by focusing on the subject’s face and using the background as secondary to add depth. The indoor photographs are part of a lesson in the art studio. The location shots are taken during class trips or in the shelter front garden. After my subjects settle in front of the camera, they relax and their strength comes through. Printed in large format, these ‘larger than life’ portraits confront and draw the viewer in with their raw human emotion and pathos.”

See more of Rosen’s work on her website and Instagram page.

Nitin is a visual designer, gallery artist, and community arts activist. Past desk-oriented posts include: PBS, Digitas, K12, Inc., Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Sesame Workshop International....

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