Dave Herman is a photographer, an educator and a visual sociologist. He is also Co-founder and Creative Director of the nonprofit organization Preservation Link. Based in Dallas, but born and raised in Georgetown, South Carolina, Dave’s love for photography began at an early age. Recently Dave took time out of his schedule for an interview.
Are you a self-taught photographer?
For the most part I am self-taught. I started taking pictures when I was about 7 or 8. I took a class in high school and a few since then.
How do you decide on locations and subjects?
I take pictures of what I see, and I see well. I consider myself more of a documentary photographer; I take pictures at cultural events and of people. I love to document what’s around me. I’m fond of supporting culture. It’s a good way for me to stay connected. I also like to work with products and fashion. I work with video too. I collect oral history through interviewing people and recording it.
Dave, a graduate of Florida A&M University, studied Journalism Media and Graphic Arts with a concentration in printing management/design marketing. His work with the Wall Street Journal’s printing department relocated him to Dallas in 1997. Soon afterwards Dave began the nonprofit organization Preservation Link.
Tell us about your work with kids and Preservation Link.
Preservation Link began out of my desire to help the community and see kids become productive citizens. As Creative Director, I am responsible for creating programs and partnerships. The programs are media arts based and have transitioned from documenting your community to more academic in nature. Students learn about visual literacy and writing stories with words versus photos only. The program is for 4th, 5th, middle school students, and we do some work with El Centro College.
Can you tell us about your current exhibit?
A Kinder Blue speaks to me and my culture in a manner that’s broad enough to be from somebody else’s perspective. It talks about slavery, escape, freeing yourself from bondage, mental and physical, and it gives reverence to my ancestors. It looks at what’s negative in history, and how people have successfully fought to get out of situations that they did not choose. Some look at slavery in one perspective and neglect to see the endurance of the people. You don’t have to prove anything, it’s clear by who you come from. Just keep on the path. A Kinder Blue speaks to my Gullah Geechee heritage. The Gullah Geechee people lived on the coast of the east America’s from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL. These are a people that were brought from Africa to cultivate the land. A lot of the Gullah Geechee culture remains as is evident by the medicinal practices, food, and crafts.
What’s your motivation?
I have a responsibility to do something productive. I am motivated by people like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. I love to read. I have a collection of over 2000 books to reference.
Is there another area of talent you wish to explore that you haven’t yet?
I consider myself to have dibbled and dabbled in the arts. I have found a more consistent base as an artist. I also write poetry, and would like to write more. I have some plans to do some scholarly writing and plays.
What inspires you?
The idea of cultural people being oral people and knowing information because of people leaving behind relics, drawings in caves, clay pots…
Any encouraging words for photographers, artists or folks in general?
Work with intention to be a keeper and continuum of history and culture. Try to have joy in your life; don’t let it out of your sight.
For a man who says “we have nothing to prove,” he has proven a lot. Here’s a small piece from Dave’s artist statement: ”I try to make something beautiful and meaningful from the cognitive dissonance. I don’t do this in order to hide behind a reality. I do it to highlight a reality – a reality that I/we come from a people who believe, a people who endure, a people who love – and for whom love is golden.”
A Kinder Blue is currently on exhibit at the South Dallas Cultural Center thru June 30.
Dave will be a panelist in Art, Life, & Law: “Sharing ideas, experiences, and solutions”
a conversation surrounding kinship care within the African American family on June 22.