“Jared Soares: Hip Hop Roanoke” documents artists, music scene over past decade

ROANOKE, Va. (Aug. 7, 2017) — The Taubman Museum of Art is pleased to present Jared Soares: Hip Hop Roanoke, a photography exhibition documenting the personal, behind-the-scenes moments of Hip Hop artists working on their craft while aspiring to move from a local to national stage.

The exhibition is on view now through Feb. 25, 2018, and is free and open to the public.

The community is invited to meet Soares Oct. 6, 2017, when he delivers an artist talk about his work. The talk is $8 for the general public and free for members. A special, free performance by celebrated Hip Hop artist Poe Mack, who is featured in the exhibition, will follow Soares’ talk.

In 2008, Soares began photographing the Hip Hop music scene in Roanoke, Va. DIY CDs in corner stores provided him with the contact information of local musicians, who initially regarded him with suspicion. He was slowly invited into the everyday lives of these artists, some with dreams of hitting it big, some grinding away in their free hours for sheer love of the craft. Taking candid shots in musicians’ self-built studios and local venues, Soares documented the artists at work, exploring their transition from musical process to performance.

In the exhibition Hip Hop Roanoke, Soares reunites with the community he still holds dear, revisiting the musicians he now knows as friends and whose musical evolution mirrors Soares’s own artistic journey.

“When I began this project, I was interested in photographing in a specific type of light and color palette. As I’ve progressed, I’ve expanded my approach,” said Soares. “Additionally, I’ve realized how my presence can influence a situation and I’ve become comfortable with being a participant during a scene. Right now, portraiture is a significant interest for me, with both photographer and the individual sitting for the portrait having to participate, so the process becomes collaborative. Transparency is a crucial aspect of the process — it’s important to explain to everyone what the purpose of this whole thing is and to make sure they want to participate. Also, it helps that I knew most of the people in the room, too.”

Soares is a photojournalist living in Washington, D.C., with a special interest in documenting community and identity in America. Beginning his career as a photographer at The Roanoke Times, he collaborated on a series of articles with writer Beth Macy on what would become her bestselling book “Factory Man,” now slated to be an HBO miniseries.

Soares has worked with editorial clients such as AARP, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Fader, Fast Company, Monocle, The New Yorker, Smithsonian, and WIRED, among others. Additionally, he collaborates with brands such as Microsoft, NIKE, VSCO, VICE, The New York Times, and Whole Foods Market.

His prints and artist books are held in the permanent collections of the Portland Art Museum, Sloane Art Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Jared Soares: Hip Hop Roanoke is curated by Eva Thornton, curatorial coordinator for the Taubman Museum of Art.

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