Photographer Jerry Taliaferro focuses on 'Black Woman as Muse' exhibit – Charlotte Post

Photographer Jerry Taliaferro rents studio space at the Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery at the Visual and Performing Arts Center.

While working on his pieces and cleaning up, Taliaferro found some old metal frames that were left in the building.

It would be so easy to put some of his photographs in the frames and create an exhibition, he thought. The building may still need some work, since it was only turned over to VAPA in September, but the gallery spaces were in good shape. Taliaferro could showcase his pieces and demonstrate to other artists who work out of the space what they could do with their own art.

So, Taliaferro organized his own a pop-up exhibition.

“Black Woman as Muse,” a pop-up exhibition curated by Jerry Taliaferro, will be taking place on Nov. 18-20 from 5-9 p.m. at the Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery at the Visual and Performing Arts Center at 700 N. Tryon St.

The pop-up exhibition will consist of 25-30 images taken from Taliaferro’s “Women of a New Tribe” exhibition.

Taliaferro traveled across the country for decades to capture images of African American women to highlight their beauty. Taliaferro uses the photographic techniques of old Hollywood to play up the drama and present his models as pictures of glamour, class, and sophistication.

“Black women should have some affirmation of their beauty,” he said.

Taliaferro said the old Hollywood style of photography appealed to him because photographs in those days were purposeful. Photographers were meticulous about everything from makeup to lighting.

“The pictures were meant to elicit a particular response,” he said. And that was exactly what he wanted to do with his photographs.

The “Women of a New Tribe” exhibition has been in Charlotte twice, but this will be the first visit for the “Black Woman as Muse” pop-up.

Taliaferro, who is originally from Brownsville, Tennessee, has been living in Charlotte for 20 years. He got his start in photography while serving in the Army. While in Germany during his service, Taliaferro sold one of his photographs to a magazine. It was his first time seeing one of his pictures in an official publication.

“It was nice to see your work published,” he said.

Taliaferro has been a full-time photographer since 1988. In the commercial world, he worked with numerous art directors who would come to the table with specific visions and themes. Taliaferro learned how to take pictures that conveyed specific messages. Pulling from that experience, he now takes the ideas from his mind and draws them out on paper before ever snapping a shot. Input from his models is also an important part of the creative process.

“I like building pictures as opposed to taking them,” he said.

Joanne Rogers, owner and curator at Nine Eighteen Nine Studio, called Taliaferro’s work “incredible.”

Taliaferro’s pop-up exhibition will be the first event to be hosted in the building since VAPA moved into the Hal Marshall Building in September. There’s still work to be done to make the place really shine, but the hope is that proceeds from events like these can be used to fix up the rest of the spaces.

Rogers said there are over 100 artists and organizations renting spaces in the building. And there’s already an extensive waitlist.

“The mission is to give affordable space to artists who otherwise wouldn’t have space,” Rogers said.

Charlotte has needed a space like this for a long time, in Rogers’ opinion, and their goal is to make the most of the time they have in the Mecklenburg County-owned building. As people browse photographs from “Black Woman as Muse,” Taliaferro said he wants Black women especially to be proud of the photos they see.

“For a black woman coming to the exhibition, I hope she will see herself in these images,” he said.

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