Thursday, Apr 08, 2021
2:00 pm PST
View archived lecture here, available for the duration of the Virtual Lecture Series.
Employing artist Christopher Mason’s photographs of sex workers in Cleveland and communities in Northeast Ohio as a starting point, the panelists will discuss social practice photography, public representations and perceptions of sex workers, voyeurism, and sex workers’ labor and humanitarian rights. This conversation panel includes Barbara Tannenbaum, Ph.D., who is Chair of the Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and Curator of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland-based photographer Christopher Mason, and Penelope Saunders, Ph.D., who is the Executive Director of the Best Practices Policy Project, a national policy platform dedicated to the health and rights of sex workers.
NOTE: This panel discussion was put in place before the tragic Atlanta killings of massage workers and customers, the majority of the victims women of Asian descent. We’re devastated by this and the ongoing racialized aggressions faced by the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. We stand in solidarity with Red Canary Song’s message here. And while massage work and sex work are separate, we hope you’ll also visit the Best Practices Policy Project for a wealth of resources on issues relating to sex work law reform, gender-based violence, AIDS policy organizing, and so much more. We originally planned the basis of this talk around the visuality of sex work in art and culture, so while we will address the murders in Atlanta, that incident will not be the focus of this conversation.
Born and raised in Cleveland, OH, artist Christopher Mason holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Ohio University and has also completed graduate coursework at Rhode Island School of Design. His work is diverse and focuses on subject matter from the everyday, mundane areas of life around him, to sex workers, to LGBTQ populations and their lives. Mason has garnered attention and recognition from esteemed art galleries across northeast Ohio over the course of his career.
Penelope Saunders, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Best Practices Policy Project, a national policy dedicated to the health and rights of sex workers. She has established numerous organizations nationwide focusing on health and rights, as well as having worked in Latin America and Australia. She led and participated in community-based research projects such as Move Along in the District of Columbia (2008) and the national Nothing About Us Without Us project on HIV (2015). She is also a member of the New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance. She received her Doctorate from the Flinders University of South Australia, and she was a Rockefeller Research Fellow at the Program for the Study of Sexuality, Gender, Health and Human Rights, Columbia School of Public Health.
Barbara Tannenbaum, Ph.D., is the Chair of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and Curator of Photography, at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Tannenbaum joined the Cleveland Museum of Art as curator of photography in 2011 after 26 years at the Akron Art Museum as head of that institution’s curatorial area. She holds a BA in art history from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and an MA and PhD from the University of Michigan. Before entering the museum world, Barbara was director of the OxBow Summer School of Art in Michigan and taught at Oberlin College, the University of Wyoming, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Northeast Ohio Medical University. She has authored numerous other publications and lectured throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Brazil, and China.
Image: Christopher Mason, Female sex worker on Euclid Avenue, East Cleveland, OH, Archival Inkjet Prints, 16 x 9 inches. Courtesy of the artist.