Above, "Pretty Boy," by Ezra Ray Posner. Below, Ray with his photograph at the receptoin at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on May 5.
Niskayuna High School senior, Ezra Ray Posner, was awarded the top prize for
his photograph - Pretty Boy - at this year's 20th District Congressional Art
Exhibition and Competition. Congressman Paul Tonko made this announcement at
a reception and awards ceremony at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on
May 5, 2016. Ray will also be receiving recognition from Niskayuna High
School at the Niskayuna High School Awards Ceremony on June 2, 2016.
Ray's photograph, Pretty Boy is from the series, "Gendered." This series of photographs revolves around his own gender struggles, and is hopefully applicable to the gender struggles of others. From the thematic statement about his work, Posner writes:
"As a transgender person, I have gone through much introspection and grappled with the conflicts between how others perceive my gender and my gender identity. By photographing myself in contrasting items of clothing that are traditionally feminine or masculine, I hope to convey some of that confusion, as well as challenge gender-normative ideas that our society has.
"The dramatic lighting in this series works to create major contrast and feeds the intensity of the emotions in the pieces. It also makes the hair on my legs visible, which shows a characteristic that is traditionally masculine.
"Pretty Boy was shot on some stairs leading to the entrance of a church, and the photograph shows the church building in the background. This poses some questions: How do cultures and religious ideologies affect transgender people? How do they oppress these individuals? How do they liberate them?
"It is my hope that by asking these questions I will push viewers to expand their understanding of transgender struggles and ultimately strengthen their acceptance of this minority.”
The Congressional Art Competition started in 1982 as an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. More than 650,000 high school students have participated in the nationwide competition. The 20th Congressional District Art Exhibition is sponsored by Congressman Paul D. Tonko’s Office.
The 20th Congressional District comprises all of Albany and Schenectady Counties, most of Montgomery and Rensselaer Counties, and the town of Waterford in Saratoga County. High Schools from this district may select up to three pieces of artwork to represent their school. This year's selected artwork was exhibited at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy the week of May 2, 2016. The selected artwork was then juried by professionals and one work chosen to represent the entire Congressional District. This year, 40 works of art were submitted by 20 high schools throughout the Capital District region.
Ray and his family will also have the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. compliments of Southwest Airlines to attend a ceremony in June of 2016. Ray's work will then be displayed for 11 months in the Cannon Tunnel in Washington, D.C. The Cannon Tunnel connects the Cannon House Office Building with the U.S. Capitol and is traveled on a daily basis by congressman and the congressional staff.
Ray created this series of photographs as part of Mr. Stephen Honicki's Advanced Photography Honors class at the high school.
Niskayuna was also represented by art students’ Annabelle Apa and Rebecca Orr. Their work is depicted below.
This is the tenth time that Niskayuna students have receive this honor in the last 17 years. Previous winners were in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2014.