Buffalo Street Portraits – Edgar Praus

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Buffalo Street Portraits – Edgar Praus
Hartmann Center Gallery
Exhibition: October 12 – November 17
Reception: November 4th, 5-7pm – Hartmann Center Gallery

Edgar Praus is a professional photographer with a career that spans over thirty years.  He holds an MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology School of Photography and Graphic Arts and has exhibited his work nationally and internationally.  Praus owns one of the last traditional full service professional film and print processing labs in the U.S. serving a worldwide customer base.

From the artist:
In the 1970’s as a young photographer, fresh out of graduate school I photographed the natural world. Beginning in the early 1980’s and inspired by Walker Evan’s photographs of the Great Depression, I began to photograph the remnants of small-town America and the culture of the highway. Over thirty years this has matured into an extensive body of work.

In the summer of 2013, I ventured into new territory and began doing street portraiture in the urban core of Buffalo, New York. This departure from my previous work has invigorated my outlook and sharpened my gaze while at the same time helped me realize that there is a common thread between all of my pictures. For example, a recent portrait of a stoic and grizzled war veteran shares the same quiet presence and dignity as my earlier studies of vernacular architecture.

My subjects include those in society that seem to have been passed up by time and forgotten by the “system”. They all suffer most of the consequences of the social issues of today including the unequal distribution of wealth, poverty, unequal educational funding, crime & incarceration, health issues and the increasing cost of living. These individuals have a real human dignity and are simply doing what they have to do to survive but the safety net seems to have collapsed around them. Anyone remotely familiar with the city of Buffalo understands that it is a once great city that was dealt several blows in the Post War economy. Its residents – my portrait subjects – seem suspended in time, as much in decline as their city itself. Pan handlers, prostitutes, and can-collectors wander the streets looking for sustenance. On the streets we meet and come together to make photographs. I also look for hope and renewal, documenting the urban farmers and renovators. With over 16,000 vacant lots turning into urban prairie, Buffalo continues to change, hopefully for the better, and I aim to document this transition with my photography.

The works have been exposed on film and are printed using traditional wet darkroom procedures.

Learn more about the artist online at: www.highwayproject.org

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