Nancy Newberry: Luton hosts first UK commission, Departure Lounge


Dallas-based photographer Nancy Newberry brings her internationally recognised brand of performative photographic portraiture to Luton in a two-part project which includes her first UK commission. 

Newberry’s unique style is introduced in an exhibition of her ongoing work, Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings, (2016 - ), a contemporary ‘Spaghetti Western’ photographed on both sides of the border between Mexico and Newberry’s native Texas.  While this work is on display, Newberry is visiting the UK to create a series of new photographic portraits of the leaders, members and young people of Luton’s faith communities, which will form the second part of the exhibition - Articles of Faith - early in the new year. 

Influenced by her mother’s Italian heritage and Newberry’s Texas upbringing, Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings takes inspiration from the Western films made cheaply in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s. Newberry has long been interested in the “Wild West” and how its iconic self-image is represented on-screen and interpreted both in the USA and abroad. She playfully presents a cast of “American Cowboys” and “Mexican Charros”, blurring fact and fiction by merging documentary portrayals with dreamlike creations.  

In the second part of the project, Articles of Faith, Newberry will collaborate with people of all religions in Luton, photographing them wearing the clothes, accessories, icons or symbols that define or acknowledge their faith.  The series, which is inspired by a fascination with the accoutrements of the artist’s own Catholic faith, will examine the role that dress and its association with faith plays in defining a person’s identity. It will also reflect the array of different faith communities who live side by side in the town, celebrating the town’s kaleidoscope of cultures and religions. Sittings will take place in November and December and the exhibition runs until 1 February 2020.