will ellis-cma-children's museum-nycWill Ellis’ photograph from “Places and Spaces” exhibit

Merging the work of three contemporary artists, “Focus: Artist as Observer” is the latest installment of the Children’s Museum of Art‘s Pop-Up Museum series that puts NYC under a photographic microscope. This summer exhibition, which is on view at CMA’s Cynthia C. Wainwright Gallery from June 10th to September 7th, focuses on the theme of identity with each artist’s contribution providing a particular angle on this theme. Will Ellis‘ “Places and Spaces,” for example, is a brilliant examination of abandoned spaces that illustrates the desolate beauty of NYC’s antiquated environments. These include intimate shots of the defunct Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and the Domino Sugar Refinery, among others.

Richard Renaldi‘s “Faces and Characters” is a series of gigantic photographs depicting seemingly candid interactions on the city streets. In comparison to Will Ellis’ contribution, these glimpses of urban life scale down the perspective from large environments to close-ups of only a few individuals.

But perhaps the most unconventional of the three contributions to “Focus…” is Jessica Wolff’s “Subjects and Objects.”As opposed to capturing her own original moments on camera, Wolff collected photographs that she had found lying around her neighborhood over the span of 30 years. The resulting mosaic covers an entire wall of the museum and provides an almost voyeuristic perspective of people’s lives by combining personal polaroids, magazine clippings, and candid photographs.

will ellis-cma-nyc-children's museum-focusAnother photograph from Will Ellis’ “Places and Spaces.”

All three of these different perspectives come together though to provide the viewer with one unique statement on the human condition and urban identity. Taken as a whole, CMA’s “Focus: Artist as Observer” proves to be one of NYC’s must-see summer exhibits. In addition, the museum also has many other arts exhibits in its permanent collection that can be visited all year round.

Contact the author @DouglasCapraro.