The Light Factory's mission is to promote the power of image, in Charlotte and beyond,
by informing, challenging, and stimulating audiences through photography, film, and
other light-based media to see their world through a different lens.
What is The Light Factory?
The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film is one of only four museums for photography and film in the United States. We have served as a haven for artists to express new ideas through photography and filmmaking, and to support cutting edge art since 1972.
The Light Factory was founded in 1972 as a Photographers' Cooperative whose goal was to nurture a growing community of emerging artist-photographers and increase appreciation for photography as an art form. The stated purpose of the group was to “to provide an outlet for the displaying of photographic prints and other creative products of the photographic medium,” and to display in a gallery setting “work which stands on its aesthetic and creative value.” The Light Factory obtained 501c3 status and began teaching classes and performing community outreach, like the My Family, Our Stories photo-literacy project which now serves English as Second Language students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).
The Light Factory quickly became a museum, dedicated to exhibition and education. In 1999, The Light Factory added film to its mission as the sister lens-based medium of photography. In the same vein as its mission, The Light Factory specializes in exhibiting independent film and nurturing emerging new media. Year-round screenings include documentaries, narrative films, experimental films, animation and The Light Factory Filmmakers' Showcase of short films.
The Light Factory gives free screening space to independent filmmakers from around the world, with special support for local and regional artists, many of whom have gone on to pursue full-time moviemaking careers. The Light Factory also hosts masters of the indie film world like Charles Burnett and George A. Romero, to share the secrets of making film outside Hollywood and expose their work to a greater audience.
From humble beginnings in an upstairs room of the Torrence Street Gallery, The Light Factory has expanded to its current home in Spirit Square which features two galleries (the Knight and Middleton McMillan Galleries), a complete darkroom and digital classroom, office space and theatres for film screenings.
Today The Light Factory is one of only four museums in the United States that promote the power of image through photography and film, featuring large-scale exhibitions of photography and digital video art, year-round screenings and major film events, as well as more than 90 classes in photography and filmmaking, and life-changing outreach programs.