‘Ground Surge’ cites America’s freedom fighters

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By Annalise Knudson | Posted on March 3, 2016

For the past 10 years, Syd London has been documenting freedom fighters in the United States using her camera.

Her photographs focuses on people of all different cultures including: low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, inter-sex, gender non-conforming (LGBTQIGNC), people-of-color communities, disabled people and most recently, Two-Spirit Native Americans. London also documented the recovery process of Superstorm Sandy.

London brought her inspirational photographs to Kean’s Human Rights Institute (HRI) with her first solo exhibition, Ground Surge.

“This is my first solo exhibition,” London said. “It’s such an exciting step for me personally. I’ve dreamed and worked towards this since I was little girl.”

Ground Surge takes a peak into communities, homes and streets affected by racial, economic, LGBTQI and age-based discrimination and into the never-ending fight for real freedom in the U.S.

The exhibition is comprised of two multi-media installations and five recent photo documentaries: Aging while Queer, The Invisible, Re-Gathering, Sandy versus the People and Taking Back the Streets. London believes there is a large range of what can be taken away from seeing Ground Surge, depending on who the person is or where they are coming from.

London believes that it is important that the gallery is located on Kean’s campus.

“You are OUR next generation of policy makers, leaders and people in power,” London said in an email. “You are our future mover n’ shakers and shape shifters.”

London was invited to showcase her exhibition after an invitation from the HRI.

“Premiering at the Human Rights Institute Gallery has been incredibly exciting to me,” London said. “The gallery space is not only stunning but the mission of HRI has helped to reinforce the idea that the issues addressed in Ground Surge are human rights violations, right here in America.”

London was happy to learn that the HRI is wheelchair accessible, a factor that deems very important to her.

“Here at Kean the gallery is accessible, beautiful and has the capacity for programming,” she said. “Kean and HRI has been incredibly supportive and encouraging to hold programming ensured the programming is free and open to all – these are really important elements to me.”

She also chose the HRI’s Book Club selections for this spring semester, which are held on the last week of each month.

London grew up in New York City surrounded by many different people and cultures, leading to the inspiration for her photographs.

“Growing up here means you witness a lot, if you choose to move with your eyes open and ask questions,” London said. “I think it’s probably made it easier to understand or see some of these common denominators of suppression when you’re able to listen to so many different people’s stories in a very small geographic area.”

London started out shooting film, but the high costs of film slowed down her growth as a photographer until she started shooting digital because of its affordability and accessibility.

“[Living in NYC] also allowed me to eventually find my own community, home and where my early digital photography was supported and encouraged,” she said. “That was huge for me.”

The gallery opening reception was held on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The gallery will be on display until March 25, 2016.

“I loved the opportunity to meeting with the students at the opening, that is one of my favorite parts – connecting with others who relate,” London said. “I can’t wait to hear what students have to say now that Ground Surge has been on campus for a couple of weeks!”

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