AndreaStern_02
<p>Koninklijk Werk IBIS vzw, Ostende, Belgium 2013</p>
<p>Chinese Acrobats. Central Park, NYC 2006</p>
<p>The Nutcracker. Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.</p>
<p>St. Thomas Choir. New York City, NY 2008</p>
<p>Hasidic Wedding. Crown Heights, NY 2008</p>
<p>Youth Rodeo Competition, Circle, Mt. 2011</p>
<p>World Irish Dance Association. Open competition.   Ashbourne, County Meath. Ireland 2011</p>
<p>Children’s Carnival Club Banque. New Orleans, LO 2012</p>
<p>The Nutcracker. Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.  Philadelphia, PA 2008</p>
<p>9  th   Annual Cheer Extravaganza. Staten Island, NY 2011</p>
<p>Roots Of Music Marching Band, Mardi Gras Parade, New   Orleans, LA. 2011</p>
<p>Ballroom Dream Dance Studio. New Brunswick, NY 2013</p>
<p>Roots Of Music Marching Band, Mardi Gras Parade, New  Orleans, LA. 2011</p>
<p>Children’s Carnival Club Mardi Gras Ball, The Sheraton Hotel,  New Orleans, 2012</p>
<p>Manhattan Amateur Classic Competition, Chelsea Piers. New  York, NY 2013</p>
<p>Manhattan Amateur Classic Competition, Chelsea Piers. New   York, NY 2013</p>
<p>Manhattan Amateur Classic Competition, Chelsea Piers. New  York, NY 2013</p>
<p>Youth Rodeo Competition, Circle, Mt. 2011</p>
<p>Lee Byrne Academy, St. Marys Girls National School. Lucan   Village. Dublin, Ireland 2011</p>
<p>Lee Byrne Academy, St. Marys Girls National School. Lucan   Village. Dublin, Ireland 2011</p>
<p>Koninklijk Werk IBIS vzw, Ostende, Belgium 2013</p>
<p>Koninklijk Werk IBIS vzw, Ostende, Belgium 2013</p>
<p>Children’s Carnival Club Mardi Gras Ball, The Sheraton Hotel,  New Orleans, 2012</p>
<
>

Lee Byrne Academy, St. Marys Girls National School. Lucan Village. Dublin, Ireland 2011

For photographer Andrea Stern, kids’ play isn’t just fun and games. Assembly is a series of images of children, in groups or alone, participating in an organized activity. The success of these large-format images comes from Stern’s earnest approach; she knows that playing a trumpet, fencing, dancing, or riding aren’t just simple pleasures for these kids—they’re a calling.

For Stern, play is almost spiritual. “If you look at religion and ritual, you dress differently and have a different set of rules,” she says.

While observing her son become a person with his own needs and desires, Stern was intrigued by the idea of “how we become who we are at a very young age.” Realizing how little influence she had on his choices, she sought out other children who were pursuing their interests and photographed them during group activities.

Her project started with a group of Chinese dancers she ran into at Central Park, and then with another chance encounter on a subway that led her to an all boy’s boarding school in Midtown Manhattan, and to many more spaces where children gather.

There’s a tension to finding individuals to photograph within a group setting. Stern seeks to capture this tension of individuation in her young riders, fencers, and dancers. It’s palpable in the images of their dedicated training and practice.

“They’re doing something far more important than being photographed by me,” she says. “They have performances to master.”

Glenna Gordon for Guernica


Andrea Stern
is a New York City-based photographer whose work probes the contours of identity through investigating her relationship to her environment. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The New Orleans Museum of Art, The Telfair Museum of Art, The Addison Gallery of American Art, and numerous private collections. Her photographs have been widely exhibited in the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, and France. She has a degree from Brown University and studied at the International Center of Photography, where she has also taught. Stern released Inheritance, a monograph with The Monacelli Press in 2007, and her subsequent books include The Wrong Roadtrip (2012) and Assembly, forthcoming this fall.

She will be signing copies of ASSEMBLY at the NY Art Book Fair on September 21.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *