LATROBE, PA – The Verostko Center for the Arts has announced its summer 2022 exhibition, Worship + Work. The exhibit, which will run from June 16 to August 19, will feature photographs centered on Benedictine life by Gordon Parks (1912 – 2006) and Pittsburgh-based artist Dominic McDuffie (b. 1993).
The exhibition includes photographs Parks created for Life magazine in 1955 that document the monks of Saint Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas. Parks’ photo essay, “A Cloistered Life of Devotion,” offered readers a candid glimpse into American Benedictines at midcentury through depictions of a daily routine marked by periods of prayer, labor, study, recreation and rest. Established by the monks of Saint Vincent in 1857, Saint Benedict’s had become one of the largest monastic communities in the world at the time of Parks’ assignment.
Among the most important photographers of the 20th century, Parks was a modern renaissance man, working as a journalist, artist, film director, musician, author, composer and poet to critical acclaim. Through an exceptional deployment of words and images, Parks challenged racist and classist attitudes within American society by entreating a deeper, empathetic response among audiences.
Rarely shown, the thirty photos from the project have been generously loaned by the monks of Saint Benedict’s for the purposes of this exhibition at Saint Vincent.
“Current exhibitions of Parks’ work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh indicate that his images hold deep resonance with our wider contemporary moment,” noted Andrew Julo, director of the Verostko Center and curator of Worship + Work. “This collection of photos, while a lesser-known body of work within Parks’ career, is ripe for reconsideration particularly given the monastic context of Saint Vincent.”
Inspired by Parks’ work, the Verostko Center for the Arts, in coordination with Saint Vincent Archabbey, commissioned Pittsburgh-based photographer Dominick McDuffie to create a series documenting the Saint Vincent monastic community during spring 2022. McDuffie met with members of the monastery over the course of multiple visits and employed a 35-millimeter camera to visually narrate aspects of life for contemporary Benedictines.
McDuffie, like Parks, is a self-taught photographer specializing in documenting underrepresented communities. In addition to exhibiting his work locally, McDuffie leads photography workshops at the Carnegie Museum of Art in tandem with the Tennie Harris Archive.
Both projects will be on view at the Verostko Center for the Arts, located within the Dale P. Latimer Library on the 2nd floor. An opening reception will be held at the Verostko Center on Thursday, June 16, from 4:00–7:00 p.m. All are welcome.
Summer hours for the Verostko Center are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and by appointment. Visits outside of these hours can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations are not required.
PHOTO 1: Gordon Parks, American (1912 -2006). Untitled, Atchison, Kansas, 1955. Images courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.
PHOTO 2: Dominick McDuffie, American (b. 1993). Untitled, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.
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