There are two photography exhibitions opening in April that I’m especially looking forward to seeing. One is a collection of photographs by Kathleen Cei of Music Haven students. The other is an exhibition of two related collections — one by celebrated American photographer Lee Friedlander and the other by the legendary jazz bassist Milt Hinton.
Jazz Lives: The Photographs of Lee Friedlander and Milt Hinton opens on April 4 at the Yale University Art Gallery and is being curated by three Yale University students: Nina Wexelblatt, a comparative literature major who’s had some curatorial experience and hopes to do more of that kind of work after she graduates in May, and Alexander Dubovoy and William Gearty, both of whom are involved with the Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective.
Molleen Theodore, an assistant curator of programs at the Yale University Art Gallery, and Joshua Chuang, the gallery’s Richard Benson Associate Curator of Photography and Digital Media, are advising the students as they organize the exhibition.
In their photographs, Friedlander and Hinton captured the evolution of jazz in New Orleans. What Cei has captured in her collection, which will be on view at the New Haven Lawn Club from April 23 through May 3, is really the evolution of Music Haven, an extraordinary nonprofit organization that since 2006 has been providing free musical instruction to young people in New Haven’s most underserved neighborhoods. Cei, it should be noted, is Music Haven’s communications manager.
For the individuals photographed by Friedlander and Hinton, playing music was a way of life. And it’s been the music itself that has connected Wexelblatt, Dubovoy, and Gearty as they’ve worked to mount the exhibition. Chuang said the students began their immersion in Jazz Lives by listening to recordings and watching YouTube videos of Hinton and the legendary musicians he played alongside.
For the youngsters captured in Cei’s images, music is a relatively new pursuit and one that will forever connect them to people and cultures they haven’t yet met or experienced.
For us, the photographs from Cei’s collection and those that will be on view in Jazz Lives connect us to the subjects therein and also to those who are working to introduce important and immeasurably influential musical traditions to younger generations.
— David Brensilver
The April edition of The Arts Paper will showcase several of Cei’s photographs as well as a feature story about Jazz Lives: The Photographs of Lee Friedlander and Milt Hinton.