Peter Kayafas – Episode 19

In this episode of PhotoWork with Sasha Wolf, Sasha and photographer, publisher, and teacher, Peter Kayafas, discuss his process of following his camera to move through and explore the world. Peter and Sasha also talk about the different ways in which Peter has found professional satisfaction outside of making photographs and how that has allowed him to continue his work free of the pressures and demands of the art world. Be sure to listen all the way through to the end for a bonus conversation between Sasha and Peter about how Sasha got started as a dealer and the pivotal role Peter played in that origin story.
Peter Kayafas is a photographer, publisher, curator and teacher who lives in New York City where he is the Director of the Eakins Press Foundation. He is a Guggenheim Fellow (2019), and his photographs have been widely exhibited, and are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; The New York Public Library; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the New Orleans Museum of Art; and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. He has taught photography at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn since 2000 and is Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Corporation of Yaddo. He has published four monographs of his photographs—The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta (2007); O Public Road! Photographs of America (2009); Totems (2012)—and The Way West (2020) with an essay by Rick Bass.
“Kayafas manages to pack a lot of history — of photography and, implicitly, of America’s real and imagined images of itself — into each of his photos. For some viewers, these pictures may merely offer an abbreviated, reportorial glimpse of what a once-fabled region looks like today. For others, they may allude to a more expansive, Whitmanesque concept of America as a big, diverse place that is also a big, diverse, national family. In doing so, the vision and spirit of Kayafas’s broad body of work, of which The Way West represents only a small sampling, may even begin to point a way home.” —Edward M. Gomez, Hyperallergic, May 24, 2014
“Kayafas is an artist who keeps his strength in check.… [His photographs are] as initially unassuming as they are ultimately powerful. Kayafas’s pictures are rich in knowledge…. Candid is just the beginning.” —Boston Phoenix, March, 2005
“His pictures are crisp and direct, and the best of them vibrate with understated graphic tension.”
—The New Yorker, March, 2005
“Kayafas’s images have a timeless quality. They’re simple and spare, yet quietly overpowering with their evocation of a history on a scale beyond that of individual human lives.” —Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe, January 2012

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