Swan Dreams Project: The Power of Imagery (SDP) is an exhibition that will be at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center March 1, 2013 through June 3, 2013. It is no secret that every major ballet company has a pronounced lack of African-American dancers, from the corps to the principals. As a result, African-American patronage to the ballet is conspicuously lacking. Barriers to entry, such as the cost of classes/attire, and stereotypes regarding classical ballet imagery, has left an entire population deprived of the enrichment of ballet. Ballerina Aesha Ash started the SDP to make the language and imagery of ballet more accessible to the African-American community through the exhibition. “Swan Dreams Project: The Power of Imagery” and increasing minority participation in ballet through exposure and training. Ash has been a professional ballet dancer for 13 years. She Joined the New York City Ballet at the age of 18, where she remained for eight years dancing numerous soloist and principal roles. Ash then joined the legendary Bejart Ballet, in Lausanne Switzerland, as a soloist. After enjoying success in Europe, she returned to the United states in 2005 where joined Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet. After a tremendous amount of growth and learning, Ash went freelance. She began working with Morphoses ,founded by Christopher Wheeldon. Ash has been featured in Dance Magazine, Pointe Magazine, the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, to name a few. You will find Ash featured in the New York City Ballet Workout II, Barbie Nutcracker, as well the principal dance double for Zoe Saldana in the movie Center Stage.
Aesha Ash, Artist Statement:
My mission as a ballet dancer and in life was not only to demonstrate excellence in my beloved genre, but to conquer stereotypes, overcome labels and low expectations, as well as inspire young girls from neighborhoods like mine who are too often unacquainted with the high arts, and lack the inspiration to live up to their fullest untapped potential. This project is inspired by my experiences with doubt isolation, self-awareness, inner-resolve and perseverance, and is not only a cathartic expression, but encouragement to those chasing their dreams in sometimes cruel and unfamiliar places. The message is simple: There is hope, never give up! This project is a continuation of the mantra I carried throughout my career and sought to embody in every performance.
My hope is that this project is more than a collection of photographs. I want the message and the imagery to inspire, motivate and change consciousness regarding the potential of all young women to be beautiful, artistic and awe-inspiring. I wanted to portray elegance, sensitivity, vulnerability and artistic purity not commonly associated with many of the project’s backdrops. I chose these backdrops not to shock, but to shout the refrain that there is art and beauty to be found in all places. I hope this modest undertaking will provoke thought, inspire hope and be a catalyst for positive change.
Never stop dreaming!
About the photographer:
Paul D. Van Hoy II began his business at the age of sixteen in his Midwestern hometown of Evansville, Indiana. A native Hoosier, Van Hoy relocated his business to Western, NY in 2005, after being accepted into the prestigious graduate program at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where, in 2007, he earned his MFA in Fine Art Photography.
Also, in 2007, Van Hoy received worldwide recognition as Microsoft’s “Photographer of The Year,” and just 12-months later, in 2008, Creative Quarterly Magazine awarded Van Hoy the accolade of “Photographer of The Year.”
His award winning wedding photojournalism has been featured in popular magazines such as Brides and Bridal Magazine, Wedding Style, In Style Wedding, Modern Bride, and Martha Stewart Weddings.
His poignant and compelling fine art photography has been widely published in the US and abroad; PDN, Digital Photo Pro, After Capture, Professional Photographer, CMYK, Camera Arts, and Communication Arts.
Van Hoy takes a very delicate and personal approach to apprehending decisive moments when documenting weddings, and describes his style as a mixture of disciplines that combine formalism and fine art aesthetics with an inborn photojournalistic intuition.
“Interaction with strangers through an image capture device changes the dynamic of an already ambivalent relationship. It is crucial that the photographer be improvisational not only on a technical level, but his or her spontaneity should also extend to the persuasions necessary to gain the momentary trust of a desired subject.”
Presently, Van Hoy resides in Rochester, NY where his destination wedding photography business, Fotoimpressions, is located. He documents approximately 30-40 weddings throughout the US annually and shoots advertising, stock, and travel photography during his off-season.
Some of his former and current clients include Forbes, Health and Wellness Magazine, Men’s Health Magazine, Food & Wine Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, Adidas, Barilla, DKNY, Jones New York and Fossil Inc., among others.
Van Hoy recently published his first book on wedding photography, “Wedding Photojournalism The Business of Aesthetics” which was released by Amherst Media in March of 2011 and is available at all major booksellers.
His works are managed & represented by AGE Fotostock in Barcelona Spain. His work can also be viewed on-line at www.fotoimpressions.com.
This exhibition is made possible with funds provided by The Chattanooga Chapter of The Links, Inc. and funding from a Community Cultural Connections Grant through ArtsBuild Chattanooga.
Photo credit: Hidden Gems, Untitled I, Paul D. Van Hoy II, www.fotoimpressions.com