Mark McKnight on Frederick Sommer, a Conversation with Audrey Sands (Virtual Event)

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5:30 p.m. March 25, 2021

Join us March 25, 2021 at 5:30 PM (AZ) for a live conversation with award-winning photographer Mark McKnight and Dr. Audrey Sands, Norton Family Assistant Curator of Photography.

This free virtual event will stream live on the Center's Youtube and Facebook pages. There is no registration required.

View the event live stream here: 

McKnight and Sands will discuss the legacy of acclaimed twentieth-century photographer Frederick Sommer and McKnight’s long-standing interest in Sommer’s life and work. The conversation will look at works by both artists and explore a range of overlapping themes and intersections, including: desert modernism, landscape, influence, education, the erotics of formalism, surrealism, sexuality, and the body. There will be a live Q&A at the end of the program where audience members will have an opportunity to contribute questions. 

Frederick Sommer (1905-1999) was raised in Brazil and trained as a landscape architect in Switzerland and New York before moving to Arizona in 1931. Sommer’s time in the Sonoran Desert was formative. The surreal quality of the Southwestern landscape resonated with his unique aesthetic sensibility: an elegant formalism coupled with emotionally-charged, often macabre subject matter. Distinct from his West Coast modernist peers in many ways, Sommer’s legacy has been a lifelong inspiration for McKnight, whose own work resonates with the late photographer’s preoccupation with mortality, poetry, surrealism, and the erotic. 

CCP acquired the Frederick Sommer Archive in 1975, preserving the photographers fine prints, negatives, and personal papers (correspondence, manuscripts, and poetry) for generations to come. In addition, correspondence from Sommer is found in the Archives of Aaron Siskind and Edward Weston. The Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation is located in Prescott, Arizona.

Participant Bios:

Mark McKnight is an award-winning photographer who splits his time between Los Angeles and Albuquerque. McKnight’s work embraces a queer formalism that simultaneously celebrates and challenges the work of earlier modernists. McKnight is Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of New Mexico. He was the 2019 recipient of the Aperture Portfolio Prize, among other prestigious awards.

Audrey Sands is the Norton Family Assistant Curator of Photography, a joint appointment between the Center for Creative Photography and Phoenix Art Museum. Sands earned her Ph.D. in the History of Art at Yale University. She has worked in curatorial departments at several notable American art museums and has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships for her scholarship, including from The Henry Luce Foundation, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Canadian Photography Institute, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.


(left) Frederick Sommer, Medallion, 1948, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Frederick Sommer Archive, © Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation

(right) Mark McKnight, Burned Map (or: Body), 2020, Courtesy Park View/Paul Soto and Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery