Photography jobs

Photo exhibit shows radically ordinary life of a ‘little black boy’

The “Little Black Boy” exhibit enters its final weeks at Heartland Community College’s Joe McCauley Gallery, featuring black-and-white photographs by Bloomington-Normal native Rashod Taylor.

Taylor became interested in photography at a young age, looking at his parents’ photo albums and working more formally on the newspaper and yearbook teams at Normal Community High School. He studied fine art photography at Murray State University in Kentucky and eventually ended up in the Twin Cities. Taylor now lives in Springfield, Missouri.

“There aren’t a lot of staff jobs there,” he said. “The coined term ‘starving artist’ – that was definitely me. I had a great experience in New York with an internship at Essence Magazine.

Taylor’s exhibition at the HCC is the first solo exhibition to take place in her hometown. Hanging at the Joe McCauley Gallery until May 13, “Little Black Boy” is a collection of images by Taylor’s son, LJ. Almost all of the photos were taken in central Illinois.

“He is our only son. I settled on him (as a subject) because I was doing it anyway,” Taylor said.

LJ, now 6, was born a few years after public attention intensified around the murder of young black men at the hands of police – Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and Laquan McDonald, to name a few. only a few.

“I wanted to do more than my own personal family snapshots and take a broader view of the works,” Taylor said. “I wanted to document my son and show the correlation and connection that a little black boy has with his father, his mother, his family, and give that a bigger voice. People can see this vision through my family, but can (also) see a broader vision of the black American experience.

The fact that Taylor’s lentil is uniquely local to central Illinois, often perceived as rural, white, and corn-fed, is unique. That’s all he knows too.

“I haven’t had a lot of trouble with law enforcement,” Taylor said. “I just know a lot of friends and family who have done it. And then you look at the larger constructions of the United States, and it’s happening everywhere. I take that as a source of inspiration.

Still, the moments captured in “Little Black Boy” are decidedly ordinary. On black-and-white film, using a large-format camera, Taylor depicts familiar and intimate moments in most children’s lives: bathing, playing outside, or snuggling up in a blanket.

“I like the simplicity,” Taylor said. “You photograph what excites you and what you love. It is my family. Some of these ordinary images are not seen enough in society and the media. You just don’t see that from black kids and parents — that tenderness, that love. He has always been there. It just doesn’t show.

“Little Black Boy” runs through May 13 at the Joe McCauley Gallery at Heartland Community College. The gallery is free and open to the public whenever the campus is open.