Lydia Panas Honorably Mentioned

Feb 11–Mar 8, 2019
Online Exhibition

For her series, Holding On, Lydia Panas creates deeply intimate portraits in the fields and woods of her farmland in Pennsylvania. Many of these images focus on women: sisters, friends, mothers and daughters. Touch, connection and the desire to belong are at the core of these portraits. A mother fiercely embraces her daughter, grown women lean into one another, and teenage girls drape their arms over each other's shoulders. In these images, Panas allows us to be privy to the specificity of female touch, and makes visible the subtle differences in the way women support and connect to one another physically. When the young women in Panas’ photos stand together, their touch has the quality of a considered carelessness. In Marguerite and Quinn, we see two girls easing into one another’s shoulders, and in Ilana, Eryn and Melissa, the young women form an entwined pile together on a hillside. While eager to prove their closeness with casual gestures, we also see these young women look affirmed through being seen and accepted by their peers. Through Panas’ lens, we also see how these same girls shift when they land in the arms of a mother or an aunt. They allow themselves to close their eyes, such as in Carmen and Reanna, or they face away from the camera, fully trusting in the older women who hold them.

The older women in Panas’ photographs perform their own transformations too. With children or young adults, their bodies become a haven. Their embraces are secure. In Melissa, Monae and Brea, a mother holds one child close, while almost imperceptibly angling her hips and legs to touch the shoulders of her younger toddler—aware of the second girl’s presence without having to look. Yet, when this second (and occasionally third) generation of women come together, we see echos of their younger selves. They hold hands, their shoulders relax ever so slightly—they seek comfort. In part, the images in Holding On feel so striking because they depict a very core human inclination—to reach out for someone else—that we don’t see ourselves enact. Looking at each of the individual women in Panas’ images, we can gain some semblance of the quiet acts of tender labor women perform for one another through touch. Grasping hands to shoulders, tucking a head under a chin, or leaning into an embrace are the actions of the everyday, yet Panas shows how significant these seemingly benign gestures can be.

Honorably Mentioned is a series of online exhibitions highlighting work from artists chosen as Honorable Mentions for Silver Eye's Fellowship competition. Each year, Silver Eye receives hundreds of talented, innovative submissions of work, but can inevitably only choose two artists for our International and Keystone Awards. This series seeks to feature the six artists selected as Honorable Mentions by our jurors for their outstanding bodies of work. Lydia Panas was selected as an Honorable Mention for the International Award, by juror Chris McCall, Executive Director of Pier 24 in San Francisco, CA

Participating Artist

  1. Lydia Panas is an artist working in photography and video. Her studio practice explores our collective societal relationship to women. Using a variety of approaches, her work is attentive to the psyche and what lies beneath the surface in an attempt to probe questions about who we are and what we want to become. The daughter of immigrants and raised between two continents, the notion of home has always felt elusive. Settling on seventy acres in Pennsylvania to raise her family, the natural landscape is an important element in the work.

    Panas’ work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries in the U.S. and internationally. She has degrees from Boston College, School of Visual Arts, and New York University/International Center of Photography. She is the recipient of a Whitney Museum Independent Study Fellowship and a CFEVA Fellowship. Her photographs are represented in collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, among others. She has two monographs, Falling from Grace (Conveyor Arts 2016) and The Mark of Abel (Kehrer Verlag 2012). Lydia has received many honors including a nomination for Prix Pictet and PDN Top 30. Awards include First Place for Single Image from CENTER, Santa Fe, Top Fifty in Photolucida Critical Mass Competition, andWinner of the London Calling Competition, among others. Her photographs have appeared in many publications including The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine. She divides her time between Kutztown, Pennsylvania and New York, New York.

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