William Castellana is an internationally known fine arts photographer. For 20 years, he has been a resident of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. His neighbors are a community of Hassidic Jews who lead their lives quite separate from the increasingly secular and “hip” Williamsburg community.
In 33 candid black and white photographs Castellana provides a glimpse into a very different American life; one proscribed by strict rules, customs, and dress codes that originated in early 19th century Eastern Europe. The images depict the modesty of women’s clothing and hair and the prevalence of local stores that cater to Hasidim living an orthodox life. The contrast with New York’s fast-paced secularism is stark.
Castellana works in the tradition of such street photographers as Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, and Gary Winogrand. They believed that photography offered a means to “deeply describe” daily life in the world around them. Castellana himself has said: “Street photography, for me, is about fidelity and frankness. It’s about the preservation of a time and place, and I think that’s what street photography can do when it’s at its best. In light of LUMA’s mission to explore humankind’s spiritual quest as expressed through art, this exhibition highlights for those of devout faith the question, What does it mean to lead a devoutly religious life in modern America?
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website