YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The McDonough Museum of Art on the campus of Youngstown State University recently received from Ohio’s premier fine art and cultural artifact transportation company the exhibition Larry Towell: The World from My Front Porch. Organized by George Eastman House
International Museum of Photography and Film this is the photographer’s largest U.S. exhibition to date. This multi-media retrospective focuses on the impact of social unrest on cultural identity as seen through Towell’s lens as he traveled from Canada to the Middle East, Central America, and the United States. The exhibition of more than 120 black-and-white images will be on view in the McDonough galleries September 18 through November 13, 2009. These photographs will be accompanied by related artifacts such as Mennonite clothing, shell casings from war zones, martyr posters, a water-soaked photo album from a Katrina survivor. Also included are Towell’s essays, musical recordings, and video presentations, some as twenty-five foot projections. The opening reception for the exhibit will take place on Friday, September 18, from 6:00 to 8:00pm.
The exhibition includes photographs from Towell’s thirty-year portfolio of activity and involvement in contemporary international issues of land use and control. There are images of Mennonite migrant workers of Mexico, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, civil war in El Salvador, victims of Hurricane Katrina, and other areas in social crisis where Towell has witnessed the "landless poor." The exhibition will also feature images from a rare personal reportage of his own family and land in rural Ontario, Canada.
His business card reads "Larry Towell, Human Being" Experience as a poet and a folk musician has done much to shape his personal style. Towell grew up in a large family in rural Ontario, Canada. As a visual arts student at Toronto’s York University, he was given a camera and black-and-white film. The photographs he has captured over the last three decades, from an intimate perspective, are from journeys to a variety of destinations, such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, Alaska, El Salvador, Palestine, and Mexico.
In his current body of work, The World from My Front Porch, he explores his own world and documents what he calls "a crisis of landlessness...a phenomenon caused by the agro-export economy, globalization, free trade, and national building without respect for indigenous populations."
"Today, one human being in six lives in a 'squatter city' as farmers throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America migrate from the plots of land they farmed for generations and on which they can no longer subsist, to live in urban slums," Towell said. "A growing number, 35 million persons, also live in exile, cut off from their rural origins, often due to conflict over land." Towell’s photographs and essays have been published extensively, in publications such as LIFE, GEO, Stern, Elle, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times. A montage of these clippings will be displayed as part of the exhibition. He is the author of ten books chronicling his travels including his most recent volume, The World from My Front Porch.