Recommended by Silver Eye Photography

Community Contributor Staff Image

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh houses an amazing collection of art and photography books. The size and breadth of this collection can be overwhelming to the uninitiated, so we reached out to Kate Kelly, assistant curator at Silver Eye Center for Photography, for her recommended picks.

Near the close of Langston Hughes’ 1935 poem, “Let America Be America Again,” the poet puts forth the proclamation that “America will be!,” encapsulating an idea for a future America which includes a wide array of experiences and perspectives. The library books in this selection represent contemporary photographers who have demonstrated a keen and sustained interest in looking closely at what American life can look and feel like. Traversing different pockets of the United States, these books encourage readers to dive in and consider how people who live within this country create a sense of home, form identities and communities, and contribute to what the ever-evolving American landscape looks like.

This spring, Silver Eye Center for Photography will open Radial Survey, a new biennial exhibition of photo-based artists working within 300 miles of Pittsburgh. Our goal is to highlight work and support artists from places that are sometimes overlooked in the national photography conversation, and our curatorial team has selected twelve significant artists with diverse practices, whose work engages with this region, its communities and histories. This exhibition will be on view at Silver Eye from Thursday, April 4th, through Saturday, May 25th.


Kate Kelley is the Assistant Curator at Silver Eye Center for Photography. She holds an MA in Art History from Williams College, and since moving to Pittsburgh in 2017, has had the opportunity to work on exciting projects around the city, at institutions such as the Carnegie Museum of Art, The Frick, and Point Park University.

Larry Sultan: Here and Home

This exhibition catalogue combines several of photographer Larry Sultan’s best known series, showcasing his unique eye on his home state of California, and his probing into ideas of domesticity, notions of home, family, and the often unseen forces of labor that trace across the state’s landscape.

Stranger Passing: Joel Sternfeld

Joel Sternfeld spent 15 years traveling across America, taking portraits of people he happened upon: a farmer resting in his field, teenagers at prom, a man in a blue suit standing alongside the Mississippi River. Choosing to document “normal” individuals in their lived experience, instead of famous or historical figures in a staged environment, Sternfeld’s images ask us to question our own preconceptions when we encounter others out in the world.

Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans

For over 40 years, photographer Terry Evans has been capturing the prairies and plains of North America, the urban prairie of Chicago, and how the landscapes of the Midwest have come under threat from climate change and corporate industrialization. Her photographs masterfully delve into the intricate and complex relationships between land and people.

Catherine Opie: Chicago (American Cities)

Los Angeles-based photographer Catherine Opie has photographed key elements in several major American cities. In this book, her lens has turned to the city of Chicago, looking to the city’s architectural history, as well as views of Lake Michigan at different seasons during the year.

Richard Misrach: Petrochemical America

Featuring photographer Richard Misrach’s striking photographic record of Louisiana’s “Chemical Corridor,” this book delves into the damage and pollution the petrochemical industry has caused. These images are accompanied by landscape architect Kate Orff’s Ecological Atlas—a series of “speculative drawings” developed through research and mapping of data from the region.

Zoe Leonard: You see I am here after all

This publication by Zoe Leonard brings together thousands of postcard images of Niagara Falls, from the early 1900s through the 1950s, and documents the transformation of Niagara Falls from a natural site to a more commercialized tourism destination.