…Through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, which can mold us, but which can also be affected by us.
— Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Mind's Eye

I have been living or working in Newark, NJ as an artist since 2006.  As a documentary photographer I have applied the idea that the best story to tell is the one you are living.  I turned my lens inwards to my own artistic community for the first time in 2013 to begin the Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project, and found a world both deeper and richer than I had anticipated.  I have documented over 70 artists in their studios or within the city during this time.  I am continuing in 2017 to expand the project and to complete all of the post production work with both digital and negative files.  I am concurrently establishing platforms to archive these artists and their work in print, while creating exposure to a broader audience through the documentary’s web presence.

The works of Euéne Atget and August Sanders reflected on the philosophy of “preserving an imprint of time” while documenting Parisians and Germans, respectively, during the 1920’s.  This work has left a legacy of places and the people who inhabited them for all generations to view and connect with.  Atget and Sanders continued to document the story of human history within their era, creating access to a visual perspective of another space and time for viewers to explore, otherwise only accessible through written and oral accounts.  

The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project will follow in the footsteps of these photographic essays to capture the city of Newark and the contemporary artists working within it, leaving a legacy for all current and future generations to experience.  

The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project is an ongoing project that recognizes the important role of contemporary art in Newark through its participants. I have, and will continue to, interview and photograph artists from the Newark arts community in their studios or on location throughoutthe city.  A digital color catalogue of images specific to each artist is being composed and displayed on a cohesive website which is used as a tool to connect participating artists to their community and their global following of viewers. During each portrait session, a catalogue of black and white negatives is also created using the historic Jem Jr. box camera, manufactured in Newark in the 1940s.  By creating images of the artists with more than one photographic medium, the project is able to create accessible content for contemporary technologically driven viewers, while at the same time maintaining the rich historical traditions of the handmade photograph as art.  A book of the black and white material will be published, along with a companion publication of the digital images.

                                               Colleen Gutwein

all images © Colleen Gutwein