Sure, Cybelle Codish’s documentary-style photo essays have graced everything from Rolling Stone to Taschen to Washington Post and assorted independent presses. Yes, her education and upbringing show pedigree: she studied at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her parents are full-time respected artists, and her grandparents were renowned in the art world. Yes, she has shot for major record labels and her office walls show numerous Gold and Platinum awards for her album covers. She’s won many awards, and shown in many galleries – including the Smithsonian NMAI in New York and the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. She has travelled the world for editorial assignments, and is a recent New School Fellow.
We could go on. But that’s all bio stuff.
What’s really at hand is Codish’s work. Because that’s what it comes down to. The Gift. How she captures in photographs unlikely beauty and empathy that no one else can see. It’s in the eyes of inner-city Detroit school children, in the hush of wild horses under unending New Mexican skies. A single personal moment of a Native American on hallowed home ground reveals complex generational stories.
One can almost smell Great Lakes marshes in her Michigan firefly summers, and the dishes of long-held family recipes from simple kitchens in faraway towns of Spain and Mexico. Hear tempo changes of old be-bop players, still alive and calling Motown home, seemingly grounded there forever by the lines and shadows playing on their faces.
The contrasting tensions, the photojournalism as fine art, the soul; it’s all there, somehow, in Cybelle Codish’s aperture.
--Brian Jabas Smith