Can American artist photograph you for Luton exhibition Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings/Articles of Faith?

Nancy Newberry's work.
Nancy Newberry's work.

Dallas-based artist, Nancy Newberry, is inviting Luton residents to her exhibition, Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings/Articles of Faith from Nov 21- Feb 1.

Newberry’s unique style is introduced in an exhibition of her ongoing work, Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings, (2016 - ), a contemporary ‘Spaghetti Western’ photographed on both sides of the border between Mexico and Newberry’s native Texas.

While this work is on display, Newberry is visiting the UK to create a series of new photographic portraits of the leaders, members and young people of Luton’s faith communities, which will form the second part of the exhibition - Articles of Faith - early in the new year.

Influenced by her mother’s Italian heritage and Newberry’s Texas upbringing, Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings takes inspiration from the Western films made cheaply in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s. Newberry has long been interested in the “Wild West” and how its iconic self-image is represented on-screen and interpreted both in the USA and abroad.

Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings playfully presents a cast of “American Cowboys” and “Mexican Charros”, blurring fact and fiction by merging documentary portrayals with dreamlike creations to investigate notions of national and community identity.

With an emphasis on costume, uniform, the regalia, rituals and the iconography of belonging, Nancy’s colourful portraiture is always bespoke and personal and the result of collaboration with those she photographs.

In the second part of the project, Articles of Faith, Newberry will collaborate with people of all religions in Luton, photographing them wearing the clothes, accessories, icons or symbols that define or acknowledge their faith. The series, which is inspired by a fascination with the accoutrements of the artist’s own Catholic faith, will examine the role that dress and its association with faith plays in defining a person’s identity and how they are received by, and engage with, the world. It will also reflect Luton’s diversity and the array of different faith communities who live side by side in the town, celebrating the town’s kaleidoscope of cultures and religions. Sittings will take place in November and December.

Matthew Shaul, Director of Departure Lounge, said: “It’s wonderful to have Nancy back in the UK and here in Luton. Nancy participated in one of Departure Lounge’s very early Luton shows in 2012. It’s great to have the opportunity to work with her again on what will be her first UK commission.”