The Louisville Photo Biennial was created in 1999 by Swanson Cralle East Market (now Swanson Contemporary), Galerie Hertz, Zephyr Gallery and Erin Divine Gallery (a predecessor of PYRO) and it has consistently grown through the years with the dedication and support of the artistic community in the Louisville region. Over the years, it has expanded to attract the national View Camera Magazine Large Format Conference in 2007. In 2009, the Louisville Photo Biennial celebrated the Center for Photographic Studies, with 20 of the festival’s 34 shows related to the Center, its students and teachers; panel discussions featuring A.D. Coleman; and a reunion of Center Alumni.
In 2011, the keynote exhibit, Rough Road: The Kentucky Documentary Project 1975-1977, featured work from Bob Hower, Ted Wathen and Bill Burke at the Frazier History Museum, in addition to a weekend of events focusing on documentary photography. This theme was also the subject of a panel discussion of nationally recognized experts hosted by the University of Louisville’s Center for Arts and Cultural Partnerships. A strong international focus highlighted the “Canadian Invasion” weekend, with15 shows by Canadian photographers represented by Elevator Digital in Toronto.
The 2013 Louisville Photo Biennial embraced local, national and international photography, with workshops, symposia, public discussions and 57 exhibitions city-wide, and throughout the region. The 2013 Louisville Photo Biennial highlighted a variety of themes each week of the month, with the First Friday Gallery Hop serving as the kick-off of coordinated gallery openings. During the following “focus” weekends, we highlighted the themes:
- Exchange/Generational: Exchange shows focused on getting art to galleries that were outside of the artists’ residential areas. The generational theme focused on teachers and students, parents and children, etc. This theme included bridging the gaps between regional universities by having photography professors and students exhibit their work at the other universities in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
- Exceptional People: These shows featured photographic displays and studies of exceptional people, both local and international. This included famous people, such as Nelson Mandela, as well as others who are not well known but deserve recognition for their admirable qualities or achievements.
- Historic: This track encompassed the historic development of photography, ranging from 19th century and alternative processes through current digital image making. In addition, there were displays of historic equipment, and workshops focusing on alternative processes.