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Thomas Roma (formerly Thomas Germano born in 1950) is an American photographer who has worked almost exclusively since 1974 exploring the neighborhoods and institutions of his native Brooklyn, photographing scenes from churches, subways and everyday life. His work, made almost exclusively using a homemade camera, has received widespread acclaim.
Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle events or environments both significant and relevant to history and historical events as well as everyday life. It is typically covered in professional photojournalism, or real life reportage, but it may also be an amateur, artistic, or academic pursuit.
Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects it with Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.
Roma was a founder of the Department of Photography at Columbia University's School of the Arts and was head of the Department. He retired from his professorship there in 2018, shortly after the publication of a New York Times article about allegations of misconduct made by some of his former students.Roma has also taught photography at Yale, Fordham, and Cooper Union.
Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.
Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Yale consistently ranks among the top universities in the world.
Fordham University is a private research university in New York City. Established in 1841 and named for the Fordham neighborhood of the Bronx in which its main campus is located, Fordham is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated university in the northeastern United States, and the third-oldest university in New York State.
He has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and his work has appeared in one-person exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the International Center of Photography in New York City.Roma's work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Guggenheim Fellowships are grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts."
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The museum will be temporarily closed to expand its galleries from June 16 through October 21, 2019. MoMA PS1 will remain open on its regular schedule.
The International Center of Photography (ICP) in Manhattan, New York City, consists of a museum for photography and visual culture at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey, and a photography school in Midtown Manhattan. It was founded in 1974.
For his collections of black-and-white photographs Come Sunday, exhibited at MOMA in 1996, Roma attended more than 150 religious services at 52 black churches in Brooklyn over a period of three years.Come Sunday is one of Roma's best-known works, along with a collection of photographs at people in the Brooklyn courthouses.
The term black church or African-American church refers to Protestant churches that currently or historically have ministered to predominantly black congregations in the United States. While some black churches belong to predominantly African-American denominations, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), many black churches are members of predominantly white denominations, such as the United Church of Christ.
A courthouse is a building that is home to a local court of law and often the regional county government as well, although this is not the case in some larger cities. The term is common in North America. In most other English-speaking countries, buildings which house courts of law are simply called "courts" or "court buildings". In most of Continental Europe and former non-English-speaking European colonies, the equivalent term is a palace of justice.
In the 1970s, Roma started manufacturing and selling cameras under the name "Siciliano Camera Works".[ citation needed ] He produced the medium format "Siciliano", the 35 mm panoramic "Pannaroma", as well as a rewind crank for the Leica M2 and M3. To create the panoramic camera, Roma used a Nikon F camera body that was gutted and served merely as a film holder. He milled an adapter out of aircraft aluminum to go between the Nikon body and a Mamiya 50 mm Sekor lens. He also made a bright-line optical viewfinder for the camera.
The Nikon F camera, introduced in April 1959, was Nikon's first SLR camera. It was one of the most advanced cameras of its day. Although many of the concepts had already been introduced elsewhere, it was revolutionary in that it was the first to combine them all in one camera. It was produced until October 1973 and was replaced by the Nikon F2. Aspects of its design remain in all of Nikon's subsequent SLR cameras, through the current Nikon F6 film and Nikon D5 digital models. The "F" in Nikon F was selected from the term "re-f-lex", since the pronunciation of the first letter "R" is not available in many Asian languages. That tradition was carried all the way through their top line of Nikon cameras until the introduction of the Nikon D1 (digital) cameras decades later.
Roma uses a medium format camera.
Robert Coles is an American author, child psychiatrist, and professor emeritus at Harvard University.
Ian Frazier is an American writer and humorist. He wrote the 1989 non-fiction history Great Plains, 2010's non-fiction travelogue Travels in Siberia, and works as a writer and humorist for The New Yorker.
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film-maker, actor, and liberal political activist. His novel The Naked and the Dead was published in 1948 and brought him early and wide renown. His 1968 nonfiction novel Armies of the Night won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction as well as the National Book Award. His best-known work is widely considered to be The Executioner's Song, the 1979 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In over six decades of work, Mailer had eleven best-selling books, at least one in each of the seven decades after World War II—more than any other post-war American writer.
Roma is married to Anna Friedlander, daughter of photographer Lee Friedlander. They have one son, Giancarlo T. Roma.
On January 3, 2018, The New York Times published an article about allegations made by five former students from Columbia University and School of Visual Arts, in which they accused Roma of sexual misconduct.
Through an attorney, Roma issued a statement about the accusations: "The statements they [the five women] are making about his asserted misconduct are replete with inaccuracies and falsehoods. All four [five] have taken isolated, innocent incidents, none of them predatory, and have created fictitious versions of reality that are libelous and in the present political climate designed to damage his career and his personal life. Professor Roma’s sympathies then and now lie with those who have been mistreated in any way and he completely fails to understand why these women have chosen to create these complaints two decades after the alleged facts supposedly occurred."
Roma retired from teaching at Columbia University on January 3, 2018, the day after the article was published.
The National Gallery of Art cancelled an exhibition of Roma's work, scheduled to open May 2018, because of the accusations.
Roma's work is held in the following permanent public collections:
Walker Evans was an American photographer and photojournalist best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) documenting the effects of the Great Depression. Much of Evans's work from the FSA period uses the large-format, 8×10-inch (200×250 mm) view camera. He said that his goal as a photographer was to make pictures that are "literate, authoritative, transcendent".
Robert Frank is a Swiss-American photographer and documentary filmmaker. His most notable work, the 1958 book titled The Americans, earned Frank comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for his fresh and nuanced outsider's view of American society. Critic Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian in 2014, said The Americans "changed the nature of photography, what it could say and how it could say it. [ . . . ] it remains perhaps the most influential photography book of the 20th century." Frank later expanded into film and video and experimented with manipulating photographs and photomontage.
Edward Jean Steichen was a Luxembourgish American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator.
Jerry N. Uelsmann is an American photographer and was an early exponent of photomontage in the 20th century in America. His work in darkroom effects foreshadowed the use of Adobe Photoshop to make surrealistic images in the late 20th century, a process led by his ex-wife, Maggie Taylor, at that time. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1972, and the Lucie Award in Fine Art in 2015. He is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, a founding member of The Society of Photographic Education.
Street photography, also sometimes called candid photography, is photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Although there is a difference between street and candid photography, it is usually subtle with most street photography being candid in nature and some candid photography being classifiable as street photography. Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Though people usually feature directly, street photography might be absent of people and can be of an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.
Garry Winogrand was an American street photographer from the Bronx, New York, known for his portrayal of U.S. life and its social issues, in the mid-20th century. Though he photographed in California, Texas and elsewhere, Winogrand was essentially a New York photographer.
Helen Levitt was an American photographer. She was particularly noted for street photography around New York City, and has been called "the most celebrated and least known photographer of her time."
Jane Anne Gallop is an American professor who since 1992 has served as Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she has taught since 1990.
Nicholas Nixon is a photographer, known for his work in portraiture and documentary photography, and for using the 8×10 inch view camera.
Roy DeCarava was an African American artist. DeCarava received early critical acclaim for his photography, initially engaging and imaging the lives of African Americans and jazz musicians in the communities where he lived and worked. Over a career that spanned nearly six decades, DeCarava came to be known as a founder in the field of black and white fine art photography, advocating for an approach to the medium based on the core value of an individual, subjective creative sensibility, which was separate and distinct from the "social documentary" style of his predecessors.
Stephen Shore is an American photographer known for his images of banal scenes and objects in the United States, and for his pioneering use of color in art photography. His books include Uncommon Places (1982) and American Surfaces (1999), photographs that he took on cross-country road trips in the 1970s.
Henry Wessel was an American photographer and educator. He made "obdurately spare and often wry black-and-white pictures of vernacular scenes in the American West".
Bruce Landon Davidson is an American photographer. He has been a member of the Magnum Photos agency since 1958. His photographs, notably those taken in Harlem, New York City, have been widely exhibited and published. He is known for photographing communities usually hostile to outsiders.
Mario Giacomelli was an Italian photographer and photojournalist in the genre of humanism.
Clemens Kalischer was an American photojournalist and art photographer. He was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States.
Louis Stettner was an American photographer of the 20th century whose work included streetscapes, portraits and architectural images of New York and Paris. His work has been highly regarded because of its humanity and capturing the life and reality of the people and streets. Starting in 1947, Stettner photographed the changes in the people, culture, and architecture of both cities. He continued to photograph New York and Paris up until his death.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya is an American photographer and artist. His photographs focus heavily on the relationship between artist and subject. He often explores the nude in relation to the intimacy of studio photography. The foundation of Sepuya's work is portraiture. He features friends and muses in his work that creates meaningful relationships through the medium of photography. Sepuya reveals the subjects in his art in fragments: torsos, arms, legs, or feet rather the entire body. Through provocative photography, Sepuya creates a feeling of longing and wanting more. This yearning desire allows viewers to connect deeply with the photography in a meaningful way.
Arthur Leipzig was an American photographer who specialized in street photography and was known for his photographs of New York City.
Anthony Barboza is an African-American photographer, historian, artist and writer. With roots originating from Cape Verde, and work that began in commercial art more than forty years ago, Barboza’s artistic talents and successful career helped him to cross over and pursue his passions in the fine arts where he continues to contribute to the American art scene.
Grace M. Mayer was a curator of photography for the Museum of the City of New York and for the Museum of Modern Art.