First Look: Terence Price II

Terence Price II: Talks on 27th, 2016, digital print, 11 by 15 inches.

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MIAMI-BASED photographer Terence Price II mixes informal street shots with the pauses and poses of more stylized portraiture. He tends to move with his subjects, and they seem to move as you look at them. When you view his action images, it’s easy to imagine a hair undulating across a cheekbone in the breeze, the bite of a lip after a smile, a bike’s front wheel hitting the ground, post-wheelie.

Price, who is self-taught, is drawn to his city’s outdoor spaces: sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways, where his lens captures scenes like neighborhood kids riding tricycles, families inflating bouncy castles, and a house sitting on a corner so squarely it looks as comforting as a church. He takes long walks, documenting chance encounters along a path that begins and ends at his front door. Last year he became an artist-in-residence at ArtCenter/South Florida in Miami Beach—where his first solo show is currently on view—and started teaching photography classes for children at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, in the Design District. But he still shoots most often in Carol City, his neighborhood in Miami Gardens, and prefers black-and-white, to avoid the distractions of color. He says his scenes show “a whole other Miami,” communities that tourists don’t see.

Early last year, Price began papering one wall of his ArtCenter studio with old family photographs and another with portraits from his series “170th” (2018), named for the street he grew up on, where his maternal grandfather died last spring. Like Price, his grandfather captured folks in pictures, though mostly on video. Recently, the artist has been sorting through family footage of birthdays, barbecues, and holidays. The ArtCenter exhibition includes video—both Price’s and his grandfather’s—in addition to portraits. In a darkened room, a slideshow of old school photos, party snapshots, scenes of teenagers huddled together on a summer day—all limbs and sneakers—is accompanied by an audio track. “You found that photo?” his grandmother gasps in one sequence. Price generously grants brief access to his extended family, past and present, in both their daily life and their revelry. He told me that the show’s title, “Dancing in the Absence of Pain,” refers to the joy of his childhood. “I grew up around all these celebrations, these photographs, and didn’t see how the media portrayed black people,” he said. “I didn’t feel pain, yet. I saw a different life. A loving life.” That is the one he’s sharing.