Bearden 100

#18 House in Cotton Field
By Romare Bearden


Selected by Russell Frederick

House in Cotton Field - 1968, collage on board, 30" x 40"

"House in the Cotton Field" invokes thoughts of a life in the South that a lot of people would like to forget about. A life where the culture of lynching was vividly in the minds of black people. Segregation, injustice, family values and church were a part of the everyday fabric of the South. The image challenges me to think about the inequalities of life and labor then. A time of segregation, very limited work, imbalanced education in the school system and the only places for black people to get an advanced education were black colleges. I have met people from the South whose grandparents picked cotton. People who had to suppress their voices so they could live. The men and women who did jobs for so little instilled a determination in their children to be much better than them. We always had hope that life would get better, because it could not get much worse. We were a unit back then when so many forces try to break us. "House in the Cotton Field" is not one of Mr. Bearden's most popular paintings but it speaks of a time and place that a lot of people have lost touch with. A time and place when black people were loving each other not killing each other. A time that brought us together to challenge this country to treat us like men and women. A time I will never forget. Thank you Mr. Bearden!

Russell Frederick

Photographer
Brooklyn, NY

King, in the county of Kings, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn October, 2010

Russell Frederick is a photographer who was born to Panamanian parents in the bustling multicultural neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. Mr. Frederick's global worldview and keen understanding of the human condition informs his compelling photography. He works with film in medium and large format and shoots predominantly black and white documentary portraiture photography. Through his lens he subverts and disengages the current status quo and stereotypes of people of color internationally.

He has photographed men, women and children from Bed Stuy, Brooklyn to Kingston, Jamaica. He has photographed the Lower Ninth Ward and the Bloods in Brooklyn. Russell Frederick tells the story while elevating and exposing the inherent beauty, dignity and honor in his subjects.

A self taught photographer with little formal training, Frederick has catapulted from an unfamiliar name to being sought after for his signature photographic style. In a decade he has become a celebrated public speaker, commissioned photographer and has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He is a winner of the esteemed Gordon Parks International Photography Competition as well as a co-recipient of a media fellowship sponsored by the Open Society Institute to document the after effects of Hurricane Katrina. From thousands of entries Frederick was chosen as one of NYC’s outstanding artists of 2010 for Curate NYC.

Russell has received grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council and from the Urban Artist Initiative. Russell is a member of Kamoinge, a select group of African American photographers whose work collectively chronicles over five decades of the African diaspora.

His inimitable eye for composition and his use of surroundings intrinsic to urban landscapes such as street art, murals and architecture are all present as aspects of his work. He has the instinct and ability to evoke authentic, visceral responses from people which make for incomparable unique images. Through his photography he tackles issues such as commitment, honor, respect, race, class, and the essence of humanity. Russell Frederick's photographs have a timeless quality that is attained through his gift to see beyond the exterior.

Russell's work has been showcased and published at the New York Times, Columbia University, NYU, Columbia College, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Empire State Building, Nordstroms, The University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, The Goethe Institute in Accra, Ghana, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, The Corridor Gallery, The Rotunda Gallery, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, The Brooklyn Academy of Music and many others.

Beyond photographing. Russell dedicates his time to volunteering and mentoring young adults.