Sylvia Sukop [nonfiction artist]
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Alex, Amen
My brother Alex, youngest of seven siblings, was a precocious idealist. Right out of high school he joined a community of organic farmers in eastern Washington. Just two years later he, like our mother before him, was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. I continued to chronicle his life in photographs as I had since he was a child, until his death at age 19 in December 2000. Judith Keller, Senior Curator of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum, curated the premiere exhibition of 40 images from this series, shown at the 18th Street Arts Center in 2004. LA Weekly: "The humanizing effect of documentary photography is taken up a notch in Sylvia Sukop’s heart-rending essay on her late brother, Alex....We see him glowing with life as he lays out a tray of fresh strawberries to dry, we see his teenage torso mutilated by surgery and tangled in IV feeds, we see him dead. Augmenting this is a cluster of sweet photos from Alex’s childhood, part of a series documenting Sukop’s family from the 1970s on. The sense of mournful identification generated is enormous—this could so easily be you, or someone you love. Yet who could wish for a more loving and dignified sendoff?"