Leah Givens: Photography

Artist Statement

As a transplant to St. Louis, Missouri, I have become fascinated with the racial, ethnic, and class distinctions that continue to divide the city decades after desegregation. Ironies and resentments enter into the equation, as do crime and fear. As a Caucasian female with housing and at least a camera to my name, I know I am not able to enter completely into the reality of others and share their felt experiences; I do, however, recognize these experiences as valid.

These photographs are part of my ongoing effort to capture the city as it remains divided and as it evolves. For example, “Lucky Day” demonstrates menacing graffiti or defacement at the border of two distinct areas, separated physically by only one small street but economically by millions of dollars in property values. New condominiums and houses, though, are popping up on once-abandoned lots, and my photograph “Outside Workshop” suggests hope in the tangle of the painful past. The other photographs reference attempts to maintain family, community and culture in the face of continued destructive influences. These attempts can themselves be beautiful, even if they do not fully succeed.

Leah Givens’ photographs have appeared in journals including The Colored Lens, The Bellingham Review, and Red Fez, as well as in a juried exhibition at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild. She received her M.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and has been involved in medical research. She has also published short fiction and has completed a novel manuscript. She recently began working as a freelance photographer for a local paper.