Michael Darough Honorably Mentioned

Mar 23–Apr 6, 2020
Online Exhibition

The title of Michael Darough's ongoing series, The Talk refers to the urgent conversations Black families have with their children about violence and the racial profiling of people of color. These black and white portraits of African American men are a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Darough’s subjects turn their faces away from the camera, differentiated only by clothing and pose. His images are stark and alarming. The decision to create such minimal pictures makes each of Darough’s subjects unrecognizable as an individual. Each of the men represent the multitude of people affected by systemic racism. Some of these images reference stories covered in the media; a hoodie alludes to Trayvon Martin, two hands reaching upward through the frame remind us of Michael Brown.

Despite the series’ powerful title, there is also an undercurrent in this work: the things which are not being said. In this series, Darough breaks up the portraits with images that do not contain a subject, or props or any kind, only a blank studio backdrop. In Darough’s words this is done to, “symbolize the stories that struggle to be told, the ones that do not receive news coverage.” Significantly, these images are not simply black voids, but are instead empty, black and white frames that pulse with the stories and individuals that should populate them. Forcing ourselves to look into an empty image feels off, our eyes scanning for something to hold on to.

Darough grew up in a family with a large number of twins. Because of this, he has long held an interest in the idea of “doubling”, or of inhabiting the idea of another person; holding space for them or performing as a representation of them. This idea comes through in The Talk, tinged with the knowledge that in this case, the space being held is for those who are no longer able to do so for themselves. The act of holding space is a quiet protest in Darough’s work. Ultimately, The Talk may get viewers to do just that, to urgently speak to one another about how these images make us feel, to ask ourselves how we can fill these voids with the narratives, peoples and stories that have thus far been excluded, forcing ourselves instead, to remember.

Michael Darough was selected for the Honorably Mentioned series by Julie Crooks, Assistant Curator of Photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Honorably Mentioned highlights the work of artists chosen as Honorable Mentions for Fellowship 20. Fellowship is Silver Eye's international juried photography competition. For nineteen years this competition has recognized both rising talent and established photographers from all corners of the globe, and from the state of Pennsylvania.

Participating Artist

  1. Michael Darough received his BFA in photography from Arizona State University and his MFA in photography from the University of Memphis. Darough has taught at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA and is a nationally exhibiting artist whose work deals with personal, cultural and self-projected identity. He is currently Assistant Professor of Art and Photography at Baylor University.

Learn More

    • Screen Shot 2020 03 23 At 4 24 54 Pm
    • Lens 2020
    • Michael Darough chosen for Perspective Gallery's annual juried show