Early Works is an exhibition that examines the naive imagery made by contemporary photographers when they were children. These early images often reveal surprising talent, visual intuition, and honesty. Kept for many decades in shoeboxes and faded albums, the images are often cherished belongings that play a key role in defining the self as artist.
This exhibition is a close look at photographers' earliest works, paired with personal narratives about the images and their role in each photographers' development as an artist. Photographers included in this exhibition include Roger Ballen, Doug Beasley, Gloria Baker Feinstein, Rich Frishman, and Michael Jang, amongst others. Come see a young Willie Mays looking up at a younger Michael Jang in the stands.
The idea for Early Works came from a conversation in which curators Laura Moya and Laura Valenti Jelen (both from PhotoLucida) exchanged stories about discovering photography at an early age. What was it about the medium that kindled our imaginations when we were young?
The curators wanted to revisit the moment when other contemporary photographers first connected with the medium. They were curious about what childhood images might show us about the nascent stages of creative vision. For many of us, an early fascination with photography led to a life-long passion. How do photographers keep their relationship to the medium alive over the years, and ultimately choose to make it their professional voice?
Many childhood experiences live in our subconscious and are often difficult to navigate, even as adults. Memories of historic moments, of families unraveling, of play, discovery, and struggles with identity are a part of our collective history. This project is about imagery, but equally about personal narrative. A photograph can serve as a strong visual cue that can spark a rich story in a second.
RayKo Photo Center & Gallery is a comprehensive photographic facility, located near the Yerba Buena Arts District, with resources for anyone with a passion for photography. Established in the early 1990’s, RayKo Photo Center has grown to become one of San Francisco’s most beloved photography darkroom spaces; it includes traditional b&w and color labs as well as a state-of-the-art digital department, a professional rental studio, galleries, and the Photographer’s Marketplace – a retail space promoting the work of regional artists. RayKo also has San Francisco’s 1st Art*O*Mat vending machine and a vintage 1947 black & white Auto-Photo Booth.
RayKo Gallery serves to advance public appreciate of photography and create opportunities for regional, national, and international artists to create and present their work. RayKo Gallery offers 1600 square feet of exhibition space and the Photographer’s Marketplace, which supports the work of Bay Area artists. RayKo also has an artist-in-residence program to further support artists in the development of their photographic projects and ideas.
RayKo Photo Center and Gallery
428 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94107