Control presents three artists; Wendy Ewald, Elan Cadiz, and For Freedoms, who shift control of the narratives that dominate mainstream culture. They use varied approaches—engagement with communities, personal studio practice, and media interventions—to make work that engages audiences on their own terms.
In the mid-1970s, Wendy Ewald lived in rural Kentucky teaching photography to children. She asked her students to make photos reflecting not only their outward experiences but also of their inner lives and dreams. The resulting images flip the anthropological model on its head. Children, usually seen as subjects of study or vessels for filling with information, became the narrators of their own internal lives – set on equal footing with adults. Ewald describes her process: “As the work progressed and I became more conscious of my method, I was able to experiment with ways of sharing control over the image-making.” She continues the work to this day, collaborating with children and adults around the world.
Elan Cadiz’s Scaffold Project, begun in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic set in, also combines her roles as educator and artist. She paints portraits of the people in her Harlem neighborhood, acquaintances from social media, friends from around the world, family, and strangers – often from photos provided by the subject. Each image, overlayed with intricate linework symbolizing a ‘scaffolding’ teaching strategy, is accompanied by the sitter’s story. As the body of work grows (over 120 portraits, and counting), it creates a layered, composite portrait of an extended community told from within.
The For Freedoms project makes a contemporary correction to a set of influential images made by Norman Rockwell in the 1940s. These strikingly composed photographs present a deeply diverse and inclusive view of America that engages directly with the political narratives of this era.