Lonnie Graham, American, b. 1954. Top: The Oracle, Leh, Ladakh, India, n.d.; Middle: Westphal, Harar, Ethiopia, n.d.; Bottom: Man with Medallion, Westinghouse High School, Pittsburgh, PA, n.d.; all: gelatin silver prints, 20 x 16 in., gift of the artist

Lonnie Graham: A Conversation with the World

October 15, 2022 to April 02, 2023

Lonnie Graham is a photographer, installation artist, and cultural activist investigating methods by which the arts may be used to achieve tangible meaning in people’s lives. Based in Philadelphia, he is a Professor of Visual Art at Pennsylvania State University and has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. For more than three decades, he has created a series of photographs titled Conversation with the World. Last year Graham generously donated seventeen prints from the series to the JSMA.

A Conversation with the World comprises work done in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Rim, Europe, and the Americas. Graham meets individuals and, through mutual trust, makes a portrait and records a conversation. Regardless of age, gender or nationality, all were asked the same eight questions pertaining to origins, family, life, death, values, tradition, and thoughts on Western Culture. Their individual portraits and responses make up the content of the project that the artist hopes will “delve beneath the superficial patina of cultural differences to explore the essential and fundamental motivations of human beings in order to clearly illustrate the bond that is inherently our humanity.”