Exhibition Dates: September 9 – October 28, 2006
By the age of four Dave Heath had been abandoned by both of his parents. By the age of fifteen he had lived in a series of foster homes and, finally, in an orphanage. Given that only his mother was of the Jewish tradition yet this is how he was being raised as well as the lack of any family support, he did not feel that he belonged anywhere. However, through the study of Jewish history he gained an understanding of a human community and our individual commitments to survival. Coupling this with American history Heath began to lay the groundwork for his belief in a purposeful life. At this early age, Heath knew that he wanted to be an artist seeing this as the best way to experience the world and come to define himself within in.
In May 1947, Heath saw Ralph Crane’s photo-essay in LIFE Magazine called “Bad Boy’s Life”. Struck by the success of how succinctly these pictures connected to a deeply felt shared experience, Heath knew he wanted to become a photographer. Using the orphanage’s darkroom, he began to master the mechanics of the medium. Thwarted by enrolling vocational school by its restrictive enrolment policy, he dropped out of high school and became a darkroom printer at a commercial lab. A book by John Whiting called Photography is a Language helped him understand the complexity of the medium. It was Heath’s passionate dedication to a self-directed study of history, art and the role of an artist which defined his existence.