Towards Independent Publishing: A Collaboration between Greg Reynolds and Riley Hooker

Artist Riley Hooker was recently approached to work on the upcoming publication  JESUS DAYS, 1978 – 1983, a photography project by Greg Reynolds. As part of the fundraising effort for the production of this ambitious publication, Blonde Art Books asked Hooker to talk about his role and experience thus far within this personal project as well as his thoughts on collaborative independent book projects.

Please check out the kickstarter page and help support independent publishing, thoughtful design, great storytelling and Greg Reynolds’ Jesus Days!

“When I first encountered Greg’s work on Culturehall it immediately resonated with me. While I will admit what first caught my eye was the latent homoeroticism present in so many of the images, it was also obvious that the story he was telling through these images was layered and sincere. Shot on slide film, Reynolds was making these images to be shared amongst his Christian fellowship. At the same time he was hiding behind his camera in order to fix his gaze upon other men. Shot between 1978 – 1983, the kodachrome color palette brought back memories of my own early childhood, and the moments where I was first discovering my own sexuality. For Greg that time period marked a significant turning point; coming out as a gay man and being completely rejected by his Christian community.

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While as New Yorkers we are blessed with a thriving queer community, where coming out is more likely to add to your “cool factor” than it is to lead to peer rejection, it’s important to remember that for so many Americans this is still not the case. In addition to it’s cultural relevance ‘Jesus Days’ is a rare gem in the world of the photo project. Greg made these photographs with no knowledge of the history of art, or photography. They are honest moments chronicling a young man’s struggle to come to terms with his own identity, full of visual metaphors that when looked at through the appropriate lens are lyrical and poetic.

When Greg first approached me to be the designer of his book it was a no brainer, a book designer’s wet dream. A story this compelling and multidimensional requires a thoughtfully designed and exquisitely produced object that will last for generations. As collaborators we aren’t interested in compromising our vision to tell this story, and therefore don’t see any other way but to produce the first edition ourselves. The freedom that comes along with independent publishing not only affords us the ability to have complete ownership over the book’s end form, but also speaks to the freedom that is inherent in the story that these photographs tell.”

– Riley Hooker

GREG REYNOLDS is a photographer, originally from Kentucky and currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. He received a MFA in Film from Columbia University, New York City and studied with Academy Award winning Director, Milos Forman, and Academy Award winning Screenwriter, Ron Nyswaner. His photographs have been published in print in the German fashion/culture publication, ‘Vorn Magazine’ and in summer 2012, will appear in the internationally distributed, ‘The Work Magazine’ from Los Angeles. ‘Jesus Days’ has been curated in the online resource for artists, ‘CultureHall.com’. He is currently working on a long term photography project titled ‘Kentucky Family Pictures’, about his family that spans four generations over thirty years.

RILEY HOOKER is an artist and graphic designer living and working in New York City. He founded the design studio This is our work in 2007 where he has specialized in close collaborations with clients in art, architecture and fashion including The Storefront for Art and Architecture, El Museo del Barrio, S Magazine, Elastic City, Brown University and the Park Avenue Armory. In early 2007 he held the first Henry Pinkwater fellowship in Design with Creative Time. His artwork  has been featured in exhibitions/projects with the Queens Museum of Art, Socrates Sculpture Park and the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

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