When Kevin Gilligan turned 50 this year he started to think about the rapidly changing roles of men and masculinity and what that means in today’s society. His latest exhibit, “Developing Men,” examines “male friendship, masculinity, isolation, community and legacy” through photography and video.
Gilligan photographed and interviewed 15 men, ranging from their late 30s to their 80s. The exhibit features two portraits of each man. One is a formal portrait and the other is environmental, where the men are doing something they enjoy.
Another part of the exhibit, which opens at Resin in Hermosa Beach on Saturday, Oct. 5, are video interviews with each subject.
Gilligan said with the rapid change in technology, people are becoming more connected and isolated at the same time. He said he is “interested in the connection and isolation and how they play off each other.” He added that isolation is a “big reason why men are not doing well.” He cited the “male suicide rate is so much higher than women.”
One of the questions he tried to answer in “Developing Men” is “why some succeed when others do not?”
“They are so busy with a career or family or other things in their life they don't often make time to reach out and connect with other men as much as they ought to,” said Gilligan, whose father's death at 52 also instigated the exhibit. “I think women are better at this than men from what I can see. Most women make more of an effort to do that. I think there's also the traditional perceptions of masculinity that men are supposed to be strong and be able to tough things out.”
Gilligan added, “Roles are changing rapidly and that’s a good thing in a lot of ways.”
During his interviews, which lasted 10 hours on video, Gilligan came to the conclusion that the men who are “doing well” have built a formal or informal structure that they can reach out to.
“They are aware of their shortcomings and they try to work on them,” Gilligan said.
Gilligan, a husband and father, grew up in New York and moved to the South Bay in 1997. The Torrance resident went to college in Santa Barbara before attending UCLA as an undergraduate and Southwestern Law School, while working full time. By day, he's an attorney while he has developed his photography. “Developing Men” is his third solo exhibit.
He said the interest in participating in his project was “much bigger than I anticipated.”
“I sought out men who I thought had interesting stories and were also, in my opinion, self aware and were able to have conversation on video,” Gilligan said.
The 10 hours of video was cut down to nearly 2 hours and will be screening at Resin. There are also outtakes at the end of the video.
The portraits show “two sides of their personality,” said Gilligan who added he will give the portraits to the subjects at the end of the exhibit.
“It's my legacy to them to give them the portraits,” he said.
“I think that every man should have one beautiful framed portrait... we're never as young as we are today,” Gilligan added.
Gilligan joined South Bay Artist Collective at Resin to support the local art community, he said.
“I think it's important to have art locally, to have it accessible, to have it for the community and to support art in schools,” Gilligan said.
Opening night of “Developing Men” on Oct. 5, is from 4 to 9 p.m. at Resin, located at 618 Cypress Ave.
RSVP is required, visit Eventbrite.com.