‘Thomas Joshua Cooper: Refuge’ Through Jeremy Dennis’ Eyes

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Jeremy Dennis. Simon Howell photo

Thomas Joshua Cooper and Jeremy Dennis have more common ground than meets the eye.

They are both photographers. They are both of Native American descent — Cooper of the Cherokee Nation and Dennis a member of the Shinneock nation. And they both explore issues inherent to them with passion.

For Cooper — in his current show, “Refuge,” on view at the Parrish Art Museum — he captures East End history, migration and settlement at sites ranging from Conscience Point to the Shinnecock Reservation. And for Dennis, it’s indigenous identity, assimilation and tradition from the lens of a millennial.

He will view “Refuge” through that same lens during a gallery talk with Parrish Executive Director Terri Sultan on Friday, May 31, at 6 p.m. at the Water Mill museum. Dennis’s Parrish Road Show exhibition last summer, “Stories—Dreams, Myths, and Experiences,” featured images from an ongoing photography series inspired by North American indigenous stories.

Through the themes, aesthetics, morals and narratives of each image, Dennis attempted to give Native American culture a contemporary agency to discuss the taboos of post-colonialism and universal global themes.

“I’m thrilled to invite Jeremy Dennis, an artist who, while anchored in history and tradition, conjures up his own colorful characters in his cinematic photographs, to reflect on Thomas Joshua Cooper’s captivating black-and-white nature pictures that tell the histories of people who have gone before,” Corinne Erni, senior curator of ArtsReach and special projects, said in a press release.

Until March 2016, Cooper had traveled worldwide making pictures along the Atlantic, from the polar arctic to South America, but had never visited eastern Long Island. In collaboration with the Lannan Foundation, the Parrish invited Cooper for a 10-day research trip, during which he traversed the area, immersing himself in an internal dialogue about the region’s environment, history and culture — from Native Americans and Dutch and English settlers to the artist community that originated in the late 19thcentury and still thrives today.

“‘Refuge’ features 49 photographs made between 1998 to 2018 along the Eastern seaboard and the Hudson River, anchored by 21 images of seascapes and interior landscapes he made on the East End of Long Island during his research journey,” the release said. “Each location Cooper identifies is recorded in a single negative taken with the 1898 AGFA field camera that he has used since 1968. His meticulously hand printed, selenium-toned gelatin silver prints are redolent with sumptuous detail and resonant tonalities.”

Admission is $12 or free for members, children and students. For more information, call (631) 283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.

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