Exhibits // Sharon

Jul 7 - Aug 27

Overview // Leon Borensztein is a renowned photographer whose artwork captures the integral beauty of people in otherwise painful and challenging situations. His photographs are a glimpse into his life as a single father caring for his severely disabled daughter, Sharon, from infancy until age 29. The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art has organized the exhibition Sharon from July 7 to August 27, 2017 so that gallery visitors can fully engage with these powerful photographs up close.

As a photographer, Borensztein was instinctually drawn to his daughter as a subject. Born legally blind and autistic, with a seizure disorder, speech delays, and underdeveloped motor skills, Borensztein began to use his camera as a way to document their life. Photography became Borensztein’s way to relate to the situation and celebrate the present—whether beautiful or excruciating—in the face of an uncertain future.

The images are raw, at times ambivalent—a father documenting the varied moments in the life of his daughter—and they accurately portray time spent coping with disability. The black and white photographs capture Sharon in beautiful, joyful moments, as well as raw, dark times, and some in between. In one photograph, she smiles rapturously over a birthday cake, eyes wide—in another she dances on the beach, arms lifted towards the warmth of the sun. In another, as a toddler, she lays in a hospital bed, a tangle of wires hanging over her tiny head. Some are more ambiguous—Sharon’s face in close-up, leaning into the camera, her eyes closed; Sharon at a distance, a little older, laughing—in the dark.

In spite of the challenges, Borensztein learns to see Sharon’s disability as a gift that, like his photographs, enable him to see and to appreciate the beautiful moments in his relationship with his daughter. In his book, he writes:

…Disabled people can enrich our lives. They’re like everybody else. The difference doesn’t necessarily have to be something negative. A lot of people don’t have any idea what disability is. Sometimes I think, ‘what if every child might be born a disabled child, but slowly the disabilities would disappear?’ Parents would never take their kids and their accomplishments for granted. I didn’t take anything for granted. Every small step, we celebrated. So I think my wish is for parents to love and appreciate their children.

SLOMA’s curator Ruta Saliklis explains, “Leon Borensztein’s aesthetically compelling artwork raises awareness of people living with disabilities and creates a fine art interpretation of their experiences.”

The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art also arranged for this exhibition to travel to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, Illinois in March and April 2017.

Related Programming:
Thursday, July 6 at 12 PM, SLOMA welcomes Mr. Borensztein for an Art at High Noon lecture about Sharon. Admission is free and open to the public.

Details // A public opening reception of Mr. Borensztein's exhibition will take place on Friday, July 7 from 6 – 9 pm in conjunction with Art After Dark.