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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jeff Sheng, Photographer

JEFF SHENG - THE ART OF CONSCIENCE
Truth is immovable and immutable and is sensed, not in the material world, but internally. It is felt as something certain. When the mind intrudes - when logic and analysis enter into the equation, truth departs.

Truth is at the core of all meaningful art.

As I sat to write about photographer, Jeff Sheng, I found myself returning to his website to view more of his work. I had not read anything about the photographer at this point, but, with each photograph it dawned on me that I was viewing the work of an important artist with a sensitive, concentrated eye. His work seemed to have a quieting effect on me as it drew me into meaning. I searched each photo for clues about the subject matter and discovered, first the component parts; a lamp, a carpet pattern, objects upon a mantle piece, or ambient lighting. Then I would return to the main subject of each photo - a uniformed man or woman, face hidden behind a door jam, or masked by brilliant sunlight or shadow - or a hand held up to hide a face.










The physical stance of each individual, sitting or standing, face hidden from view, conveys a sense of isolation and a feeling of loneliness.
Each photograph reveals the intimate story of individual American Gay and Lesbian military personnel who serve our county honorably while, involuntarily, serving in secrecy and inequality due to the restrictive federal law, more commonly known as, DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) - a law which relegates honorable military service back into the "closet".
Jeff Sheng writes, "While photographing this project, I discovered that many of my subjects had previously done tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no different than the services of their straight peers, the dedication and sacrifices made by these brave soldiers have unfortunately been mostly ignored by the general American public during these last nine years." 
Mr. Sheng traveled over 30,000 miles documenting the visual stories of various DADT military personnel which are self-published in the book, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". This is the first in a series of books.
The child of Taiwanese immigrants, Mr. Sheng was raised in Thousand Oaks, California.  He received his BA degree from Harvard University in 2002, with an MFA received from the University of California, Irvine in 2007. He currently teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
An earlier body of work, titled, "Fearless", depicts openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-identified high school and college athletes proudly "out" to their teammates, coaches and peers. This series grew to include over 100 athletes and the work has been exhibited at over 40 high school and college campuses, nationally, at ESPN Headquarters and at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Central to the work of this accomplished photographer is an inner moral sense of what is true. However, while visually depicting social activism, the photographs also display a mastery of technique - melding both artistry and conscience.

From OvationTV.com - Jeff Sheng interviewed

Exhibition
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
September 18 - October 23, 2010
Kaycee Olsen Gallery
2685 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
310/837/8945
For more information:
Kaycee Olsen Gallery
All still photographs, courtesy, Kaycee Olsen Gallery and the artist.

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