elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Jonathan Silin & Robert Giard

Jonathan G. Silin (born April 3, 1944), a member of the graduate faculty at Bank Street College of Education in New York, has published articles in Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, and Educational Theory, as well as in more popular periodicals such as Newsday, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Education Week.

His research interests include the nature of contemporary childhood and socially relevant curriculum for young children. He is the author of Sex, Death, and the Education of Children: Our Passion for Ignorance in the Age of AIDS (Teachers College Press, 1995), and My Father's Keeper: The Story of a Gay Son and His Aging Parents, coeditor of Putting the Children First, coproducer of Children Talk About AIDS (Teachers College Press, 1999) and coeditor of Putting the Children First: The Changing Face of Newark’s Public Schools (Teachers College Press, 2003).

He is the curator of the legacy by Robert Giard, his late partner, more than 600 photographes of notable LGBT "voices", writers, artists and activists.

He lives in New York.

Jonathan Silin by Robert Giard
Robert Giard was a portrait, landscape, and figure photographer who chronicled a broad survey of contemporary American gay and lesbian literary figures. In 1974, Giard settled in Amagansett with his life partner, Jonathan Silin, an early childhood educator, where they remained for nearly thirty years until Giard's death. Winner of the 1998 Lambda Literary Award for Photography and Visual ArtsIn 1985 Giard set out to create an archive of portraits of gay and lesbian writers from across the US. 

Dolores Klaich, Wendy W. Fairey & Jonathan Silin, 1993, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1082051)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)

Robert Giard (July 22, 1939 - July 16, 2002) was a portrait, landscape, and figure photographer who for two decades also chronicled a broad survey of contemporary American gay and lesbian literary figures. A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Giard came relatively late to the practice of photography. He majored in English literature and received a B.A. from Yale (1961), and M.A. in Comparative Literature from Boston University (1965). For a time he taught intermediate grades at the New Lincoln School in New York City. By 1972, entirely self-taught, he began to photograph, concentrating on landscapes of the South Fork of Long Island, portraits of friends, many of them artists and writers in the region, and the nude figure.

In 1974, Giard settled in Amagansett, Long Island, with his life partner, Jonathan Silin, an early childhood educator, where they remained for nearly thirty years until Giard's death. In these early years, eschewing a romantic view of landscape, Robert Giard did much of his shooting during the late autumn, winter, and early spring when many of the fashionable houses of "The Hamptons" were boarded up for the season. With the region largely depopulated, the surrounding grounds assumed for him "a mysterious, even somewhat sinister air."

My one shot at immortality. So young, so thin. Also, I kind of look like a beatnik, which is strange since this was about 1990. I'm so glad the collection is in one place. It was such a remarkable project. I mean he would hunt people down and then take greyhound to photograph them. He was such a dedicated artist. Bob would go anywhere to photograph anyone, no matter how obscure the press they'd published with. He wanted the whole tapestry of that vibrant gay literary landscape. Someone should really do a big show of that important work. He would spend time with you to actually get a sense of who you were. That's why they're all so distinctive --Wesley Gibson

Male Nude, 1990

The Creeks 3, 1991

Among many notable images are 24 photographs made at The Creeks, the estate of the artist Alfonso Ossorio. Similarly, his studies of the male and female nude tended less toward and idealizing rendering of form than a description of a specific person. Giard saw this as subsuming "the nude under the heading of the portrait... they are pictures of people who are naked."

Male Nude Leaning on Louvered Doors, 1979

Male Nude Wearing Angel Wings, 1991

Man Among Movie Stars, 1978

Man Behind a Screen Door, 1986

Man Exercising, 1978

Man on a Motorcycle, 1977

Man with a Mirror, 1979

Sunday Morning, 1989


Ultimately, it would be in the area of the portrait that Giard’s career made its most indelible mark. In 1985, after seeing a performance of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart dealing with the crisis of AIDS in the gay community, Giard was moved by a sense of urgency. He decided that he would put his talents as a photographer to use to other gay men and lesbians "by recording something of note about our experience, our history, and our culture." Synthesizing his life-long interest in literature and his interest and involvement in gay issues of the 1970s and 1980s, Giard set about documenting in straightforward, unadorned, yet sometimes witty and playful portraits, a wide survey of significant literary figures, as well as brash new writers on the scene.

James Saslow, 1986

A selection of these portraits, culled from the five hundred examples he had already amassed, was published by MIT Press in 1997 as the anthology Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, and served as the companion volume to the New York Public Library’s 1998 exhibition of the same name. Broadly documenting the flowering of gay and lesbian academic writing, fiction, poetry, and playwrighting, his collection of portraits included such iconic figures such as Edward Albee, Allen Ginsberg and Adrienne Rich as well as emerging novelists making their first mark such as Sapphire, David Leavitt, Shay Youngblood, and Michael Cunningham.

Carrolyn Belkis McCreath, 1996

Mamie Austin, 1998

At the time of his death in July 2002, just shy of his 63rd birthday, Giard was working on a portrait documentation of the three hundred twenty-one grant recipients from around the country of The Thanks Be To Grandmother Winifred Foundation, which until 2001 supported projects by women fifty-four years and older that benefited other mature women. Grants supported research and artistic projects, as well as efforts to alleviate social, economic, and medical problems for women in a given locality. Giard, travelling the country by train, bus, and plane (he never had a driver's license) succeeded in photographing two hundred forty-one of the women grantees, and kept a journal of his travels and his many visits to a richy diverse group of American women in small towns and major cities.

Robert Giard was the recipient of many grants and awards, and the published version of Particular Voices won a Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Best Photography/Art Book in 1997. Examples of his work are in collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the San Francisco Public Library, and the Brooklyn Museum. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University recently acquired Giard's complete archive.

Burial: Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA

Source: http://www.bulgergallery.com/dynamic/fr_artist_cv.asp?ArtistID=113 & http://www.robertgiardfoundation.org/

Adrienne Rich, 2001

Allan Gurganus, 1989

Allen Ginsberg, 1986

Andrew Holleran, 1985

Armistead Maupin, 1989

Bil Wright, 1990

Charles Henri Ford, 1989

James Purdy, 1987

Katherine V. Forrest, 1989

Leslie Feinberg & Minnie Bruce Pratt, 1993

Michael Klein, 1988

Michael Nava, 1988

Paul Monette, 1988

Quentin Crisp, 1986

Richard Labonte, 1989

Thom Gunn, 1988

Tony Kushner, 1995

Veneita Porter & John Preston, 1988

Further Readings:

My Father's Keeper: The Story of a Gay Son and His Aging Parents by Jonathan G. Silin
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press (May 15, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807079650
ISBN-13: 978-0807079652
Amazon: My Father's Keeper: The Story of a Gay Son and His Aging Parents

My Father's Keeper is the moving story of Jonathan Silin, a gay man in midlife who learned to care for his elderly parents as a series of life-threatening illnesses forced them to make the difficult transition from being independent to being reliant on their son. Their new needs and unrelenting demands brought them into intimate daily contact and radically transformed what had been a difficult and emotionally fraught relationship.

My Father's Keeper chronicles the unexpected ways in which the ideas and skills Silin acquired as an early childhood educator, a specialist in life span development, and a compassionate witness to the devastation of the HIV/AIDS crisis came together with his interest in human psychology to deeply inform his thinking about the dramatic changes in his family's life and increasingly influence his role as his father's (and mother's) keeper.

Through the months and years of his parents' decline, Silin reflects on their history as a family, recalling the pain of his father's psychological struggles through midlife and the uneasy, imperfect process of accepting his son as a gay man and accepting his son's partner into the family.

My Father's Keeper is a book about beginnings and endings, loss and redemption, the ethics of intervention, and the pressing needs of two extremely vulnerable populations

Sex, Death, and the Education of Children: Our Passion for Ignorance in the Age of AIDS by Jonathan G. Silin
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Teachers College Press (February 1, 1995)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807734055
ISBN-13: 978-0807734056
Amazon: Sex, Death, and the Education of Children: Our Passion for Ignorance in the Age of AIDS

In this work on AIDS and the ways in which we do not educate children about it, Silin has created a literary register that can comprehend the many languages of his life: language for what he has learned about the education of young children; language for what he has learned about love and sexuality as a gay man; and, language for what he has learned about life and death in the age of AIDS. Refusing what he calls our "passion for ignorance", Silin wrenches what he knows out of the categories of discretion and avoidance that confine knowledge. He shows us how the early childhood curriculum deploys a false altruism, pretending to protect children from what adults are afraid to talk about. He shows us how we cultivate ignorance in children and in each other by refusing to hear and respond to what they and we already know

Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers by Robert Giard, foreword by Julia van Van Haaften
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press (July 3, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0262571250
ISBN-13: 978-0262571258
Amazon: Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers

Winner of the 1998 Lambda Literary Award for Photography and Visual ArtsIn 1985 photographer Robert Giard set out to create an archive of portraits of gay and lesbian writers from across the United States. The result is the most extensive photographic record of the gay and lesbian literary community ever undertaken. This book contains 182 of the more than 500 portraits Giard has made. The collection underscores the diversity of the gay population and encompasses a broad range of literary genres: fiction, poetry, drama, personal narrative, history, criticism, and political/activist statements. Taken as a whole, the portraits and excerpts encompass the many-faceted history of the gay/lesbian experience in the United States over the past seventy-five years.The book also features a foreword by Julia VanHaaften, Curator of Photographs at the New York Public Library; an introduction by Giard, "Self-Portrait of a Gay Reader"; an essay by Christopher Bram on gay writing; and an essay by Joan Nestle on lesbian writing.

More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance

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Tags: art, days of love tb, essayist: jonathan g. silin, particular voices

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