Stephen DiRado is a documentary photographer, filmmaker and educator. He is recognized internationally for his sometimes raw but yet deeply empathetic portraits, often devoting decades to a number of chosen themes. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1957, Stephen grew up in Marlborough, a suburb of Boston. His father, employed as a graphic artist, was profoundly influential as a mentor encouraging Stephen to pursue a career in the arts. A self-taught photographer, Stephen at thirteen set up a primitive darkroom in his parent’s basement. By sixteen he began to work weekends as a journalist for a local newspaper. DiRado, in 1976 attended the School of the Worcester Art Museum, followed by Massachusetts College of Art where he mastered the craft of analog photography and printing, receiving a B.F.A. in 1981. In 1982, Stephen Joined the faculty at Clark University, Visual and Performing Arts Department, Worcester, Massachusetts, where he remains to this day. From the beginning of his career, Stephen prefers to shoot in black and white with the use of a large-format camera for its deliberate accuracy, both in details and contemplative approach. At the age of twenty-five, DiRado’s ability to transform commonplaces and people into captivating works of art, began with his summer long documents of lower middle-class families and immigrants at Bell Pond; a public park located near the center of Worcester, Massachusetts. The Worcester Art Museum, curated by Stephen Jareckie, supported DiRado’s second project and first museum solo exhibition in 1986. Galleria Series was the result of his two-year study, documenting daily habitat; people shopping, working and socializing in the Worcester Galleria, a large and expansive mall located in the heart of the city that once was prized for its design. DiRado has been awarded a fellowship for this body of work from the Massachusetts Artist Foundation.
Beginning in 1987, DiRado dedicates most of his attention documenting Martha’s Vineyard, (an island located off the coast of Cape Cod). His primary subject matter distillates from the vernacular—intimate insights into the daily life of newly found friends and acquaintances, set against the backdrop of the island’s beaches, homes and backyards. Stephen’s passion for his subjects and their mutual respect help create rare and revealing portraits of a community inaccessible to others. For this work, DiRado has been awarded fellowships from the New England Foundation for the Arts/National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Artist Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural council and a John Simon Guggenheim. In tandem to making stills, DiRado produced his first film Summer Spent, (39 minutes), a deeply personal documentary that portrays the daily efforts of his decades long commitment to record beach goers on island. The Society for Photographic Education premiered Summer Spent in 2013. JUMP, (21 minutes) an impressionistic film is made up of a montage of numerous bathers jumping off of the American Legion Memorial Bridge into the sea below, (located on Martha’s Vineyard). Music scored by composer Matt Malsky. JUMP premiered in 2017 at the University of New Hampshire, Museum of Art.
By the late 1980s DiRado turned his 8×10 camera towards his father Gene, now retired and living at home in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Stephen felt an urgency to set up frequent appointments in order to investigate alarming observations that something was wrong with Gene. Unbeknownst to both during that period of time, Gene was succumbing to Alzheimer’s. For the next two decades, Stephen produced loving, yet insightful documents of a family’s changing relationship brought about by this fatal disease. The Bob and Diane Fund, devoted to storytellers investigating forms of dementia, recognized this work with their annual (worldwide) 2018 award. The documentary film With Dad, directed by Soren Sorensen 2021, is a nonfiction film that chronicles Stephen’s 20-year period of his father’s decline and eventual death from Alzheimer’s disease through a series of interviews, photographs and film footage by Stephen’s brother Chris DiRado during Gene’s later years. With Dad, (28 minutes) has won seven national awards including; Best Documentary Short, New York City Independent Film Festival, Best Documentary Short, Massachusetts Film Festival and the Golden Remi Award for Documentary Short Subject, Houston international Film Festival. With Dad, aired on Public Broadcasting Stations in the fall of 2021, including WGBH Boston, Massachusetts in 2019, Davis Publications published the book With Dad, 88 pages, 39 plates, printed by Puritan Press in Hollis, New Hampshire, introduction essay by Stephen DiRado.
DiRado’s photographs can be found in many private and public collections from the MFA, Boston, MA, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, New York, NY, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin, TX, MFA, Houston, TX, Currier Museum, Manchester, NH, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA and Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA. He has been featured, profiled and reviewed nationally in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Vice Magazine, National Geographic, National Public Radio, Black and White Magazine and Camera Arts; internationally, Geo Wissen Magazine, Germany, Daily Mail, United Kingdom, Royal Photographic Society Journal, United Kingdom, Landscape Stories, Italy, The Conversation, United Kingdom, Pan and the Dream Magazine, United Kingdom/France and Photo Siberian. Recently, the University of New Hampshire, Museum of Art presented: “Stephen DiRado’s Embrace, A retrospect 1983 through 2017.” In 2016, ArtsWorcester (a nonprofit arts organization) awards DiRado the 35th ArtsWorcester Award. An annual award that goes out to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the arts and culture of the city of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Presently, DiRado is documenting the societal effects of Covid-19, under the title, “In the Present Day.”
2018 Bob and Diane Fund Award
2012 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow
2011 Fellowship, Massachusetts Cultural Council
2009 Clark University, Higgins School of Humanities, Research Project Grant
2007 Finalist, Massachusetts Cultural Council
2003 Fellowship, Massachusetts Cultural Council
1991 Fellowship, Massachusetts Artist Foundation
1991 Fellowship, New England Foundation for the Arts/National Endowment For The Arts
1991 Cultural Assembly of Greater Worcester
1989 Finalist, Ruttenburg Foundation Award
1987 Fellowship, Massachusetts Artist Foundation
1986 State Finalist, Massachusetts Artist Foundation
1983 State Finalist, Massachusetts Artist Foundation
2021 Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
2016 New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester, NH
2015 Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA,( 20 photographs)
2014 University of Michigan Museum of Art, Anne Arbor, MI
2013 Grace Museum, Abilene, TX
2012 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, New York, NY
2010 New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester, NH
2009 New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT
2009 Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA
2007 Berlin Natural History Museum, Germany
2003 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA
2003 Currier Museum, NH
2001 Ritz-Carlton, Boston, MA
2001 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
2001 Boston Athenaeum, Boston, MA
1999 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA
1999 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
1998 Fidelity Investments, Boston, MA
1997 Polaroid Corporation, Dallas, TX
1997 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX
1995 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA
1994 Lamar Dodd Art Center, LaGrange College, LaGrange, GA
1993 Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester, MA
1992 The Vineyard Museum, Edgartown, MA
1992 Danforth Museum, Framingham, MA
1986 Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester, MA
1984 Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
EXHIBITIONS, ONE PERSON
2017 Museum of Art, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, "A Photographer’s Embrace: Stephen DiRado" 1983 through 2017 Retrospect
2017 Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester, MA, Stephen DiRado's Mall Series
2016 Higgins Gallery, Higgins School for the Humanities, Clark University, Worcester, MA: Site Specific Installation, Across the Table
2013 Davis Orton Gallery, Hudson, NY, "Celestial"
2008 Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA "Stephen DiRado's Dinner Series: How We Lived"
2007 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA," JUMP"
2002 Houston Center For Photography, Houston, TX, "Dinner Table Series"
2001-2000 MTA, Transit for Arts, Penn Station, New York City, NY, "Celestial Photographs"
1997 The Afterimage Photograph Gallery, Dallas, TX, "Nighttime"
1995 The Toledo Museum of Art, Clement Gallery, UT, Center for the Visual Arts, Toledo, OH," Beach People"
1994 The Vineyard Museum, Edgartown, MA, "Beach People"
1993 University Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA ,"Jacob's House"
1992 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA," Beach People"
1991 Akin Gallery, Boston, MA, "Photo Constructions"
1986 Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA, "Galleria Series"
1986 Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA, "Galleria Series"
1984 Grove Street Gallery, Worcester, MA, "Bell Pond, Portrait of A Community"
EXHIBITIONS, TWO PERSON AND GROUP
2017 Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA: "John O'Reilly: A Studio Odyssey." Documentary photograph of John O’Reilly.
2016 University of Missouri-Kansas City Gallery of Art, Kansas City, MO: Arterial Echoes: Three Generations of Creative Mentoring
2016 Schiltkamp Gallery, Clark University, Worcester, MA, Jump–Devolve–Whisper: audio/video installations by Stephen DiRado & Matt Malsky
2015 Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA, "New Photography Acquisitions Exhibition"
2014 Worcester State University, Worcester, MA Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery. "Regarding Landscape: Frank Armstrong and Stephen DiRado"
2014 University of Michigan Museum of Art, Anne Arbor, MI, "Suspended Moments: Photographs from the David S. Rosen Collection"
2014 ARTSWorcester, Worcester, MA. "Model Behavior, works from the Collection of Fitchburg Art Museum"
2014 Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester, MA Booth Gallery, "38.6: A Photographic Homage to Worcester"
2012 Camera Club of New York City, New York, NY. "Celestial"
2014 New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester, NH
2014 Gordon College, Wentham, MA, Barrington Center Gallery, "21st Century Monochrome: New Works in B/W Photography"
2014 Grace Museum, Abilene, TX, Exhibition "Black/White: Masters of Analog Photography"
2011 Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, MA, "Naked"
2011 Afterimage Photograph Gallery, Dallas, TX, "40 Exceptional Photographs"
2010 Kayafas Gallery, Boston, MA, Four "Palm Press Portfolios"
2009 Great River Arts, Bellows Falls, VT, "H2O, Film on Water"
2007 Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art, Boston, MA."(IN)Habitations"
2004 Currier Museum, Manchester, NH, "New Acquisitions Exhibition"
2004 Denis Bibro Fine Arts, New York, NY, "About Face"
2003 Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY. "By The Sea"
2003 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA. " Landscapes Seen and Imagined: Part II
2002 Tom Blau Gallery, London, UK, Celestial Series
2002 The Photography Armory Show, New York, NY, Celestial Series
2002 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA. " Alone"
2002 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, MA "Lens Landscape"
2001 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA. " Landscapes Seen and Imagined: Sense of Place"
2001 Dorsky Gallery, (SOHO) New York City, NY, "At the Edge"
2001 Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, MA, " Night Light"
2000 The Afterimage Photograph Gallery, Dallas, TX, "Still Lifes"
1997 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX, "MFA, Houston: Recent Acquisitions"
1996 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA, "DeCordova Collects Photographs"
1995 Danforth Museum, Framingham, MA, "Facing the Lens: Photographic Portraits from the Museum Collection"
1994 Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA, The Figurative Impulse
1994 LaGrange National Biennial XVIII, LaGrange College, Lamar Dodd Art Center, LaGrange, GA
1993 Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA, The New England Biennial
1993 Fuller Art Museum, Brockton, MA, Seventh Triennual Exhibition
1993 Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA, Self-amused , The Contemporary Artist as Observer and Observed.
1993 Akin Gallery, Boston, MA
1993 Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester, MA, "The Worcester Scene"
1992 Akin Gallery, Boston, MA
1990 Akin Gallery, Boston, MA, Small Works , Photo Construction
1990 Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, MASSACHUSARTS Exhibition
1990 Akin Gallery, Boston, MA
1988 Massachusetts Artist Foundation Gallery, Boston, MA, "1987 Artist Fellowship Exhibition"
1985 Walt Kuhn Museum, Cape Neddick, ME, Stephen DiRado/Ron Rosenstock
1983 Lily Iselin Gallery, Providence, RI
2022 The Atlantic, Magazine, May 30
2021 What Will You Remember, Internet Magazine, December 15, 2021, Photo Essay “Secrets of the Night” by Susanne Revy and Elin Spring.
2021 WGBH/PBS Television, Boston, MA, Week of September 21 through 25th, Soren Sorensen/Stephen DiRado: With Dad, docu-film.
2020 Geo Kompakt Magazine, Germany, July Issue, Article “Von der hohen Kunst, richtig miteinander reden (From the High Art, talk properly to each other.) Interview: Claus Peter Simon and Bertram Weiss, Dinner Series photographs.
2020 The Conversation, Internet Magazine, June 19, 2020, Holding on and holding still, a son photographs his father with Alzheimer’s, article and Interview Nick Lehr.
2020 Silvergrain Classics #8, Magazine, Fall 2020, Germany, Photographing Covid-19, Interview Charys Schuler.
2020 Vice Magazine, February 11, 2020, 7 Photographers on Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Heartbreaking Memory Loss, article Jon Feinstein.
2019 Black & White magazine, Issue 132, April 2019, Article Lorraine Anne Davis: Stephen DiRado: In the Presence of Light.10 pages, 16 photographs.
2019 Book, With Dad, Davis Publications, 88 pages, 54 photographs, Introduction essay.
2018 NPR, Thursday, December 6, 2018, A Photographer Turns A Lens On His Father’s Alzheimer’s, 10 With Dad Photographs, article, Meredith Rizzo.
2018 Washington Post. Tuesday, December 4, 2018, A son’s decades-long focus on dad and Alzheimer’s, 6 With Dad photographs, article Olivier Laurent.
2017 Pan and the Dream Magazine 1#, The Emperor’s New Clothes, United Kingdom, 12 photographs and Interview, Beach People Series
2017 WCAI/NPR Interview radio and podcast, Zach Dyer, Stephen DiRado’s Holding On To the Man in the Mirror—Tracking Alzheimer’s Through Image
2017 RealSimple Magazine, Time Inc, New York, NY: 6 Across the Table photographs accompanying Caroline Collins McKenzie’s article, How to Love the Hard-to-Love People in Your Life.
2017 GEO WISSEN Magazine, Germany, May issue, Article Die Kunst der (The Art of Communication) Interview Claus Peter Simon and Bertan Weiss, Page 27 through 33. 8 page spread with 6 Dinner Series photographs.
2016 National Geographic Channel, Program: “The 90s, Last Great Decade?” 2 Mall Series photographs used to illustrate mall habitat.
2016 KCUR, Radio, Kansas City, MO: Article and Radio Program, C.J. Janovy: UMKC Art Gallery of Art Reveals 3 Generations of Artists Who Influenced One Another
2015 Boston Globe, Boston, MA, Mark Feeney, “Asylums Abandoned, Bodies Unconstrained”, Review Clark Gallery
2014 Lens Scratch, USA Internet Magazine, November 6th, Feature: Aline Smithson: Regarding Landscape: Frank Armstrong and Stephen DiRado, Profile of exhibition at the WSU Dolphin gallery
2014 Business Insider, Interview by Harrsion Jacobs: Twenty Vintage photos from the Heyday of Shopping Malls
2014 UK DailyMail, internet Newspaper, Sunday October 19th, Rats! The teens, staff, and shoppers of America’s shopping centers in the 1980s
2014 Reframe, Gizmodo.com: USA Internet Magazine, Feature: Michael Hession: The Lonesome Crowded Shopping Malls of the 1980s
2014 Feature Shoot: USA Internet Magazine, Interview: Ellyn Ruddick Sunstein: Photos Capture 1980s Mall Rats in Their Element
2014 Landscape Stories: Italian Internet Magazine, 17/2014 Food Issue, Short Essay.
2013 Boston Herald, Boston, MA April 29, 2013, Article, Gayle Fee, “Photog’s Nude Hobby Uncovered.” Interview about the film, Summer Spent
2013 [Photo]gogues: New England. Introduction by Paula Tognarelli and Frances Jakubek. Published by Griffin Museum of Photography
2012 Canteen Magazine, Issue 8. Article on Stephen DiRado’s Dinner Series by Brian Ulrich.
2012 Dear Dave magazine, Issue 10. Article by Mark Alice Durant. Title: Celestial.
2009 New York Times Magazine, September 9, 2009, The Way We Live Now, article by Walter Kirn: A Pharmacological Education.
2007 Artscope Magazine, 03/04 2007 Issue, Brian Goslow, Through the Lens, Stephen DiRado
2007 Blank Canvas magazine, Issue 7 Winter 2007, Lisa Sutcliffe, Feature: Facing the Void: The Photography of
2003 Vineyard Beach People, Palm Press, Concord, MA Limited edition portfolio. Edition 20, Artist Proofs. 7
2003 New Jersey Repertory Company, Long branch, NJ, Beach People photographs used for a play, Winterizing
the Summer House. A play inspired by my life and work on Martha’s Vineyard. Playwright Gino Di’Iorio.
2003 Spot, Houston Center For Photography, Spring/Summer 2003, Stephen DiRado, Dinner Table Series
2002 Royal Photographic Society Journal, Dec 2002, Vol 142, #10. Simon James, Feature: Great Issues Round
the Dinner Table.
2001 Photo Siberian Magazine, May 2001, The Caught Bird (The Mall Series)
2001 At The Edge: The Horizon Line In Contemporary Art, Exhibition Catalog, Donna Harkavy and Margaret Mathews-Berenson
2000 Black and White Photography, Manifest Visions/An International Collection, James Luciana, Quarry Publications
1995 Feels Like Home, Fond Remembrances in Words and Pictures, Cheryl Moch/Allan Gurganus, Algonquin Books
1989 View Camera, November 1989 Steve Simmons, Profile: Stephen DiRado Contemporary Lives.
1987 The Collections and Programs of the American Antiquarian Society, A 175TH Anniversary Guide
1979-81 BFA, Massachusetts College of Art
1976-79 Certificate of Art, School of the Worcester Art Museum
2012 - Present Professor of Practice in Photography, Clark University, Visual and Performing Arts, Worcester, MA
2014 - Present Graduate Artist Mentor, Photography Graduate Program, New Hampshire, Institute of Art
2008 - 2012 Senior Lecturer in Photography, Clark University, Visual and Performing Arts, Worcester, MA
1985 - 2008 Studio Lecturer in Photography, Clark University, Visual and Performing Arts, Worcester, MA