Obsidian & Neon: Building Black Life and Identity in Las Vegas

Obsidian & Neon: Building Black Life and Identity in Las Vegas is a pictorial-essay installation of large-scale black and white photography by award-winning photojournalist Jeff Scheid, accompanied by narrative profiles curated by writer Erica Vital-Lazare. This installation is an exploration and celebration of community members who are actively mining identity and cultivating Black life in Las Vegas. The exhibit features such figures as Judge Karen Bennett-Haron; Welfare Rights activist and Director of Operation Life Ruby Duncan; performer China Hudson; Managing Principal Energy Works LLC Rose McKinney-James; Comedienne AK McMorris; and the late-Nevada State Sen. Joe Neal. 

This project began three years ago out of a respect for the accomplishments and untold stories of Black life in our neon city. Previous exhibits and other events stemming from this project have occurred at the Clark County Government Center and the Nevada State Museum. What began as a small-scale project has grown into a touchstone for community and culture and has been recognized on the chamber floor by Commissioner Lawrence Weekly and commended by Senator Steven Horsford and Congresswoman Dina Titus.

Jeff Scheid: Describing himself as “a visual anthropologist photographing Nevada and Las Vegas,” Jeff is a celebrated photographer whose most recent photo-installation chronicled the history and day-to-day life of the Fallini family, owners of Nevada’s oldest working ranch in Nevada. Titled “Ranching in the High Desert.” Jeff has photographed the infamous Hole in the Wall Gang and Chicago mobster Tony “The Ant” Spilotro.

Erica Vital-Lazare: Artist, writer and professor of creative writing at the College, Erica is a recipient of grants and awards from the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Hilliard Endowment, the Virginia Council of the Arts and the Nevada Arts Council.  Cofounder of the nonprofit, The Obodo Collective, she is editor of a forthcoming series revisiting classic Black works in literature with McSweeney’s Press, Of the Diaspora.

On exhibit at Sahara West Library from December 16, 2021 through March 5, 2022.

Reception on Thursday, February 17, from 5-7 pm.

Monday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Tuesday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Wednesday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Thursday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Friday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Saturday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Sunday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM