Judith Black: Pleasant Street
Pleasant Street, a collection of 123 portraits by American photographer Judith Black, is a narrative of adolescence and parenthood set in an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and taken over the course of two decades.
When Judith Black moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1979 with her four children, a friend asked her if they were going to be all right there. Frankly, she didn’t know.
They had just moved into a dilapidated apartment in a neighborhood that the real estate lady admitted was as good as they were going to find. The small convenience store down the block had “fuck you” fiercely spray-painted on the clapboard – a less than encouraging welcome for a family that had grown up in the bucolic hippie house they shared with Black’s siblings in New Hampshire. Things didn’t seem very promising for a single mother with little income and a houseful of young children.
Over the next two decades, Black would make a series of images that chronicled the lives of her young children, and her relationship with them.
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“I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to roam the streets to make photographs. I had limited time between working at MIT as an assistant, attending classes, and being a mother. Our apartment was dark, but it became my studio.” – Judith Black
About the Author
Known for her large-format photographs using Polaroid Type 55 black and white film documenting the domestic interior and exterior, Judith Black has been a practicing photographer since 1979, when she entered the MIT photography program leading to a Master of Science in Visual Studies in 1981.
During that time she realized that her most potent subject matter was close to home, recording her family of four children and partner. She has been a photographer with an eye for the strange and marvelous in every day, she has focused her lens with precision, humor, and deadpan reckoning. Her photographs of domestic life in its many dimensions have been exhibited throughout the US and abroad.
A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1986, Black was part of a new wave of photographers arising in the 1980s whose work revealed how the domestic interior, the lives of children, and the daily habits of the family are filled with meaning and arresting visual interest.
Grounded in both the craft and the theory of photographic representation, Black taught in the Art Department at Wellesley College from 1987 to 2010. She was the head of the photography area and was instrumental in creating and co-directing the Media Arts and Science program in concert with the Computer Science department.
Judith Black’s work has been shown at museums internationally and is included in permanent collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Huston Museum of Modern Art, the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, the Polaroid International Collection and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College.