Jay Turner Frey Seawell: The Mall


  • Silver Eye Center for Photography 4808 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA, 15224 United States

Seawell has photographed the National Mall in Washington, D.C. since 2013. Throughout this time, he has struggled with the mainstream narrative of United States history marking the Mall’s commemorative landscape. In his images, a contested space emerges--a place where national idealism and beauty collide with darkness and disillusionment.

Walking the grounds at the Mall, Seawell often finds himself drifting away from the iconic landmarks and toward the damaged, the discarded, and the anonymous, allowing for a personal and intimate depiction of the space. In an effort to resist the notion of the Mall as an unchanging place that holds absolute truths, Seawell’s work mixes black and white with color photographs with a number of photographic languages.

The project culminates with the preparation and aftermath of the 2017 president inauguration. Ultimately, the images arise from skepticism about the United States’ official historical narrative as well as his feelings of dread and foreboding about the nation’s future. 

Jay Turner Frey Seawell is a photographer based in Washington, DC. He earned his MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2013. His photographs have been included in numerous exhibitions in the United States as well as the Pingyao International Photography Festival in China. Seawell is a two-time nominee of The Baum Award for An Emerging American Photographer (2014 and 2016). His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University. His photographs have appeared in various publications including VICE Magazine and Bloomberg Businessweek. Seawell is the 2016 recipient of the Award for Innovation in the Documentary Arts from the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University. His first photobookNational Trust was published by Skylark Editions in 2016.