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Search for social justice focuses Alvin Jacobs on ‘Brookhill’
Exhibit on neighborhood at Harvey B. Gantt Center
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:34 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Integrity and consistency changed everything for Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.

His time at the Harvey B. Gantt Center kicked off over the weekend with the opening of “Welcome to Brookhill,” his first exhibit in a yearlong residency, as well as the signature exhibit for the current season. Jacobs’ black and white images, which chronicle the evolution of 36-acre Brookhill Village in South End, remains on view through July 31, 2019.

“There was a time where I didn’t quite think I was good enough just because the work didn’t mirror what I had seen on the national stage,” Jacobs said. “The guys who were in the cities I lived in who were doing such amazing work, I was like, ‘there is no possible way can I ever be this good,’ but I never stopped working.”

Jacobs has been asking viewers to see beyond imagery since his experience during the 2012 NBA All-Star game in Orlando. While basketball brought him to the city, the death of Trayvon Martin sparked a transformation in the way he approached photography, documenting the response to civilian deaths due to interaction with law enforcement in Charlotte, Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Chicago and New York. His work as an image activist went into the Levine Museum of the New South’s exhibit “K(NO)W Justice, K(NO)W Peace” in February 2017.

 “It became a mission to deliver the product,” Jacobs said. “It didn’t matter who was paying attention. It didn’t matter who knew, just as long as they could recognize the passion. Now that things have changed, things have upgraded, I have to remain as diligent as I was when no one knew who I was.”

Now 44, Jacobs continues to lay it all on the line for what he calls, “the work.”

“You’re going to hear me talk about the work, because that’s exactly what it is—it’s the work,” he said. “What are you known for? What are you leaving behind? The work.”
Jacobs began photographing with a Cannon Power Shot 10 years ago, eventually moving toward more advanced equipment. It became about capturing what he saw, and sharing it with others.

“I always had access to it, but without formal training, I didn’t quite know how to create what I felt I saw,” he said. “It was just a basic picture. I didn’t know how to edit. I definitely didn’t know how to develop, and I’m old enough to where film was the only game in town.”

Photographs represented a significant part of Jacobs’ childhood. It became a way to control the narrative, and bring out the best in it even in the worst situations.
“I must have been 10-11 [years old],” Jacobs said. “I never really thought back that far, because it wasn’t until about seven years ago when I picked up my first commercially available great camera, to where I started getting shots that I knew that I was on my way.”   

Read more about “Welcome to Brookhill”:

More about IEI:
More about Jacobs: http://acjphoto.com
More about the Gantt: www.ganttcenter.org

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