Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company is proud to present “52 Weeks of Women,” which will complement True Colors’ 17thseason: She Griots. In his first year as Artistic Director at True Colors, Jamil Jude curated this season to uplift Black women, who are among the most historically underrepresented faces in regional theatre, both on and off the stage.

With this year-long celebration, we will recognize a different “shero” on our website and on social media, sharing their stories and honoring their impact in the community.  Each Friday, a new honoree will be featured.

Week 6 // Sue Ross

Photo-Griot

Susan J. “Sue” Ross is a “photo-griot” with a specialization in documenting images which portray the comings and goings of the African-American community – cultural, political, social and economic. In the African tradition, the griot is the oral historian holding the essence of African history and culture through the word. Sue Ross, the photo-griot, uses photographs to tell the stories of the African-American community.“I am primarily a people photographer, finding grace and dignity in the faces of our people.”

Sue Ross has combined her lifework with her positions in government administration for the City of Atlanta, serving as photographer for many Atlanta events including the annual Dream Jamborees, the 1988 Democratic Convention, the Atlanta Third World Film Festivals, the Atlanta Jazz Festivals, the Nelson Mandela visits, King Week, the National Black Arts Festivals, the Centennial Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and as the informal, and sometimes formal, chronicler of activities during the administrations of Atlanta’s five African-American mayors. Currently, she serves as vendor development manager for the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management.

Sue has exhibited through the city since 1985, including the Atlanta Life Insurance annual Afro-American Artists competitions, the National Arts Program Atlanta Municipal Employees exhibitions, Spelman College, City Gallery East, the Hammonds House Galleries, Atlanta Photography Gallery, the APEX Museum, Frames ‘n’ Fine Art Gallery, M’Print Gallery, the Ellis-Chambers Gallery, Changing the Face of Creativity, the Arts Exchange, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Rush Art Gallery (NYC), Auburn Avenue Research Library, Native Sun Gallery, Paradigm Artspace, Cleveland State University African-American Cultural Center, Salem College Fine Arts Center Gallery, Georgia Perimeter College, the Center for Aids and Humanity, Studioplex, Art Farm, One Night Stand, the Michael C. Carlos Museum, City Gallery Chastain, Mason-Murer Gallery, the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts, Georgia State University and Alabama State Univerity. Sue’s first solo exhibition, Jazz Atlanta Style, was exhibited at the Gilbert House as part of the 1999 Atlanta Jazz Festival and at the Southwest Arts Center (2005). Recent solo exhibitions include In a Mellotone: Portraits in Jazz at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts (2007), Sheroes at the Douglass Theatre in Macon (2008) and Sankofa: Looking Back to Move Forward; National Black Arts Festival 1988-2010 at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts (2011). Her portraits of Pearl Primus and Maya Angelou were included in the Fay Gold Selects show at APG. Her work was selected for the Atlanta Master Photographers exhibit at Kennesaw State University, the Reflections in Black exhibit at the Atlanta History Center and Civil Rights and Social Justice at Alabama State University.

Her work appears regularly in local and national publications. She served as the photo editor and principal photographer for the City’s weekly newspaper City Beat from 1996-2001, and later as principal photographer for the e-newsletter, City Newsbytes (2004).

Her photographs have appeared in numerous books, including In the Eye of the Muses: Selections from the Clark Atlanta University GalleriesGenerations, Present Tense Past Perfect: 20th Anniversary of the National Black Arts FestivalMaya Angelou: A Glorious CelebrationSavoring the Salt: the Legacy of Toni Cade BambaraPosing Beauty, Black: A Celebration of a Culture and Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers: 1840 to the Present by Deborah Willis, A Love Supreme by TaRessa and Calvin Stovall, Dr. Richard A. Long’s Black Americana and African Americans, Patricia Bell Scott’s Life Notes and Double Stitch, Andrea Young’s Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me, Andrew Young’s An Easy Burden and the catalogues Dreaming Identities, 30 Years of the Atlanta Jazz Festival and Sistagraphy: A 10 Year Retrospective.

Sue’s portraits of Miles Davis and Pearl Primus are in the permanent collection of Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries. Her work toured in the national exhibit Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, curated by Deborah Willis. Her 2011 solo exhibition “Sankofa: Looking Back to Move Forward” explored the 22 year history of the National Black Arts Festival. Her work was recently featured in ‘Dreaming Identities’ at the Arnika Dawkins Gallery, curated by Dr Deborah Willis, and is currently on display in exhibits at AUC Woodruff Library, Southwest Arts Center and Stonecrest Library.

She is a 2004 recipient of the Paul R. Jones Family Fund’s first national Spiral Award to Artists of Distinction and has been honored for her cultural work by the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Spelman College Digital Moving Image Salon, Rolling Out Magazine Top 25 Women in Atlanta, Who’s Who in Black Atlanta,Welcome Magazine MECCA Award, Concerned Black Clergy, the Black Women Film Preservation Project, the Hammonds House Museum, the Center for Democratic Renewal and the Atlanta City Council. Sue is one of 5 photographers honored for their lifelong commitment to documenting African-American life and culture by the Georgia House of Representatives.

Sue is a founding member of Sistagraphy™: the collective of african-american women photographers, a member of MOCA and the Atlanta Photography Group. She serves on the boards of the Black Women Film Network, the BronzeLens Film Festival, the Hammonds House Museum, Nutrition Plus HHC and Sistagraphy. Sue also served for many years on the boards of the National Black Arts Festival, the Atlanta African Film Society and the Metropolitan Atlanta Coalition of 100 Black Women.

We invite members of the True Colors family to send your recommendations for featured women! Please include your nominee’s name, e-mail address and a brief note on why you’d like us to feature your nominee. Email your nominations to info@truecolorstheatre.org.