Curvature is a collaboration between Philadelphia-based photographer, Den Sweeney, and poet Travis Lau. This project deliberately places photographic portraits alongside lyric poetry to explore the interconnections between scoliosis-related disability and queerness. These dyadic works seek to challenge the conventions of traditional portraiture and modeling, which tend to privilege certain able bodies deemed aesthetically beautiful. How do we represent a queer body in pain? How might that body have its own aesthetic or even resist visual and even textual representation? This project attempts to embody the late Tobin Siebers' commitment to a disability aesthetic that "refuses to recognize the representation of the healthy body--and its definition of harmony, integrity, and beauty--as the sole determination of the aesthetic.
Harry Kalas Statue
The day after Harry Kalas died, Philadelphia Phillies fan, Antonio Jose started a petition on Facebook seeking support for a statue to be erected in Kalas' honor and memory. One of the nearly 20,000 Facebook members that have signed the petition was Philadelphia native and acclaimed sculptor, Lawrence Nowlan. Inspired by the groundswell of support, Nowlan gathered a small group of friends to strategize a way to turn this dream into a reality. The non-profit group, Dear Harry, Inc. was formed as the organizational entity whose current singular mission is to promote, fund and execute a memorial to Harry Kalas. Den was there from the start of the project to document the making of this statue and tribute to the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and NFL Films.
Look Again, The Young People of Camden
For one year, photographer Den Sweeney followed CASA, Camden Adolescents Striving for Achievement, to document the triumphs and hopes of teens in one of the most dangerous cities in America. Look Again presented portraits of 32 Camden City teenagers. The photographs were accompanied by texts written by the teens, documenting their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. The exhibition ran from May 25 – August 12, 2016. It was also shown in three other galleries in later months.
This exhibition was made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Campbell Soup Foundation; and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Since 2001, Den has been the photographer and one of the leaders of a group that travels to the Arctic to conduct the annual Nunavut Stars Hockey Camp. Each year over 100 young boys and girls aged 5-19 years, representing almost every community in Nunavut attend this volunteer driven camp to learn on-ice skills, team building, and how to lead a healthier lifestyle. This camp provides all that plus the benefits of developing friendships with camp mates from different communities.”