Matthew Bailey’s passion is creating environmental portraits, images where a narrative is expressed by both the individual and landscape. To help celebrate Day Eight’s forthcoming anthology, The Forgotten River, Bailey has created a series of ten portraits of area poets.
Born and raised in the District of Columbia, Matthew recently established a new home in Baltimore as a student at Maryland Institute College of Art, where he is a rising junior. His interest in photography emerged in middle school but he didn’t identify as an artist until a high school sports injury took him out of the gym. After breaking his ankle shortly before what would have been his first season of varsity basketball, Bailey poured himself into his artistic passions. “The photography I do is all over the place,” he says. “But I just like telling stories… A single image can tell a whole story.”
Over the last seven weeks, Matthew met area poets Gregory Luce, Anne Becker, Luther Jett, Marianne Szlyk, Marlena Chertock, Naomi Ayala, Pacyinz Lyfoung, Sally Zakariya, Susan Mockler, and W.F. Lantry in outdoor spaces around the city suggested by the poets.
After a year and a half of quarantine, masks, and social distancing, meeting new people in-person was a refreshing change for Matthew, and the participating poets. Featured poet Gregory Luce, also Day Eight’s board chair, said, “It was a pleasure to meet Matthew and work with him in this way. He has a very supportive manner and I enjoyed the experience.”
Images from the series are published together below, and can be viewed individually on Day Eight’s new Instagram account, which was launched this summer by Xia McAfee. Both Xia and Matthew worked with Day Eight this summer through the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment program.
Matthew sees this series as a body of work, or collective story, reflecting a career goal of marrying fine art and commercial photography. His portfolio can be found on his website and his Instagram, @visualsbymatthew.
The poets featured in the series are contributors to Day Eight’s forthcoming nature anthology, The Forgotten River. A book launch celebration will occur Saturday, August 21 at 7pm via Zoom. Registration is free and registration on Eventbrite here is required to attend.
The Forgotten River is available for purchase at local bookstores and at the link here.