Courtesy of Tamara Reynolds
Tamara Reynolds “weave[s] into [her] compelling images a sense of urgency, so that what might have begun as a private inquiry could assume broader significance in our current moment. This is an exceedingly difficult thing to do, and I am in awe whenever I encounter a body of work that seems to open up new paths towards understanding the world around us.” — Sarah Hermanson Meister, Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art.
Tamara Reynolds is a documentary photographer whose unflinching eye considers what it means to be human in today’s society. In particular, her work focuses on the lives of those who are usually unseen.
Reynolds’ photobook The Drake will be published by Dewi Lewis in 2022. The work — portraits, still lifes and streetscapes that document the lives of people existing just above survival on one square block around a motel in Nashville, Tennessee — has received numerous honors, including the prestigious Santa Fe Center 2018 Project Launch Grant, the 2019 Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant, a 2020 Puffin Grant and the Guggenheim Fellowship Grant for 2021.
Reynolds was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and has lived there all her life.
The Drake is a series that document the lives of people existing just above survival on a block around a motel in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Drake Motel is located in an area ignored by developers, a microcosm of the disregarded or resentfully tolerated. Alcohol and drug addiction are prevalent among those who live in its shadow. Prostitution and panhandling have become ways to maintain addiction.
The Drake offers a means to delve deeply into a world far removed from my own but also perilously close — how my life might have looked had I not found the resources that led me to recovery. The work continuously challenges my concept of empathy and how to photograph my subjects in such a way as to “make the unseen seen.” 1* I am passionate in my intent to push back against a society of increasing culturally endorsed behavior to not acknowledge the marginalized. These are not easy pictures, but my hope is that the images give space for viewers to move closer, to enter the stillness of the photographs and consider the lives of those looking back.
*1 Linfield, Susie, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence (University of Chicago Press, 2010), p. 258.