Larry W. Cook is a photographer, conceptual artist, educator, and native of Prince George’s County, Maryland. His work explores aspects of Black culture, recontextualizing various objects, documents, and forms of vernacular media through experimentation with their placement or direct editing.
Featured in WE BUILT THIS HOUSE, the High Rollers series includes found photographs of D.C. nightlife which Cook modifies through digital collage. This series is displayed alongside an untitled installation reminiscent of a nightclub photo booth. Consisting of a hand-painted photo backdrop, a white stool, and two house plants sitting atop a royal blue rug, the viewer is encouraged to interact with the installation by taking photos on their own or in group photo shoots hosted by The Anderson. Removed from its original context, the untitled installation is recontextualized as the audience must walk behind the backdrop to view all of the High Rollers works on display. Each of the images in the High Rollers series feature either a singular person, couple, or pair of friends posing in front of various iconic portrait backdrops similar to the photo booth of Cook's untitled installation. Cook has manipulated these photos by filling the forms of select subjects with silver or gold glitter. Removing the details of the subjects creates an esoteric scene that–combined with the texture–transforms them from club-goers into silhouettes, allowing viewers to place themselves in their glittering shoes.
Together, the High Rollers series and untitled installation investigate the materiality, performance, and dissociation of nightlife culture in a way that should be nostalgic for those familiar and intriguing to those new. This exploration of the club scene, typically an avenue of escape from everyday problems, aligns with the greater theme of WE BUILT THIS HOUSE by inviting audiences to better understand the people and culture of our nation’s capital.
- Natalie Duke (VCU Art History, BA 2022)
- Jasmine Elmore (VCU Photography + Film, BFA 2022)
Larry W. Cook is a photographer and conceptual artist based in Washington, DC. Cook received his MFA from George Washington University in 2013. Cook is a finalist for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (2019). He completed a fellowship at the Hamiltonian Gallery (2013-2015) and later completed the Savage-Lewis artist residency on Martha’s Vineyard (2018). Cook has exhibited his work nationally including at MoMA PS1 (2020), the National Gallery of Art (2017), the Baltimore Museum of Art (2016). Cook is 2021 recipient of the Light Work Artist in Residence in Syracuse, NY and is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Howard University.