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On the Matter of Subject: What We Photograph Matters

Monday, January 31, 6:00 pm7:00 pm

“On the Matter of Subject: What We Photograph Matters” with Cecil McDonald Jr.   

(from the 2021-2022 Speaker Series, “Experiencing Images: How the Visual Shapes Our World”) 

Employing still and moving images, this talk will explore how the image and the image-maker shape our understanding of each other and the world we inhabit. The image-maker has a responsibility to the subject matter and the proliferation of the images they create.


Cecil McDonald Jr.

Cecil McDonald Jr.


Cecil McDonald Jr. uses photography, video, and text to explore the intersections of masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of black culture. McDonald studied fashion, house music, and dance club culture before receiving a MFA in photography at Columbia College Chicago, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. He was awarded the Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, The Swiss Benevolent Society, Lucerne, Switzerland, Residency and the 3Arts Teaching Artist Award. In The Company of Black, his first comprehensive monograph was published by Candor Arts and was short listed for first photographic book of the year by The Aperture Foundation and Paris Photo.




This virtual presentation is part of the 2021-2022 virtual speaker series “Experiencing Images: How the Visual Shapes Our World,” which features distinguished speakers who explore individual and collective engagement with photography, a medium that defines visual culture. Through decoding this visual landscape, we become conscious of how we use images to construct identity and meaning. The lectures in this series will address themes including photography exhibitions and civic spectatorship, surveillance, and the construction of race, image production, representation, and trauma and memory. The series is curated by Holly Filsinger, graduate student in visual culture. The series is hosted by Illinois State University Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts and is supported and co-sponsored by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, University Galleries of Illinois State University, the School of Communication, the Department of English, the Department of History, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Virtual lectures via Zoom are free and open to the public. If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in this program/event, please contact hefilsi@ilstu.edu. Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.


Monday, January 31
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm