Manifest Scholar in Residence
This year Manifest continues a new branch of its residency program—the Manifest Scholar in Residence (SIR). The SIR will now be housed at Manifest's new permanent facility 'M1' alongside the Manifest Drawing Center.
Isaiah Armstrong is a 24 year old Cincinnati native who started teaching himself photography during the summer of 2020 after being gifted a camera by his grandfather. Seeing the photos made by photographers from Lexington like Jon cherry in the wake of the Brenna Taylor verdict, and revisiting his father's work opened his eyes to photography and its potential to convey interpersonal intimacy, while also touching on the complexities of the human experience in a broader sense.
Before 2020 Isaiah had no experience with the arts, he had been pursing basketball as a career, while also working in the non profit sector with organizations like Public Allies. Isaiah also has a background in working with mentally disabled folks, and doing manual labor such as remodeling and painting homes.
When folks ask me what I like to take pictures of, I often say people that I love doing things that they love. It is a sentiment that underlines my approach to photography at large. For me that seed was planted by my father, who got into photography when me and my brother were born, and he started his own family. My father did not have the best relationship with my grandfather, so he saw an opportunity to show us something different with how he raised us. He passed when I was 6, but by that point he had already made hundreds of prints of my brother and I growing up. It became a tradition to view his photos at every new home we moved into, and every time we pulled them out, I saw the love and compassion he had for us and those he photographed. He had a way of making people forget about the camera and just relax, his approach to the medium is at the core of how and why I make photos.
My other grandfather gave me my first DSLR alongside a retrospective on Gordon Parks' work going into 2020, and that sparked my interest in photojournalism and the ways photography can be used to convey narrative. Currently these are the areas I seek the most development in, along with deepening my understanding of composition, the zone system, exposing and developing film and prints.
The images pictured at right are a sampling of those submitted with Isaiah's application.
The Scholar In Residence Program (SIR) at Manifest contrasts with the Artist In Residence Program (MAR) in a number of ways. Primarily the SIR is intended to support the study, practice, and exploration of the artist in one or more focus areas. This may be related to theory, aesthetics/criticism, teaching, studio/curricular operations, or studio-based art making. The nature of each resident's interest and focus will naturally determine the kinds of documentation provided across the year.
As Manifest Scholar in Residence Isaiah will be based out of M1, the new home of the Manifest Drawing Center program, and the future home of The Manifest Center for the Visual Arts, on Central Parkway.
Information on how to apply for future SIR or MAR awards can be found here.