The Center for Documentary Arts is an independent, nonprofit initiative to integrate art, culture, and humanitarian awareness. Broadly defined, documentary arts are narrative and lyric forms of photography, film, oral history, visual art, poetry, etc. that address social themes, bear witness to the human condition, and add to the world's quotient of beauty and mercy. The Center exists to promote and connect artists of the highest accomplishment who seek through their work to impact conscience and consciousness. Such art penetrates the heart, awakens compassion, and fosters justice, essentials for the activism Dostoevsky and Martin Luther King called “love in action.” The Center exists to serve these principles through exhibitions, film screenings, readings, publications, and any activity that presents and amplifies the work of like-minded creators.
The Center for Documentary Arts was founded in 2009 in partnership with the Sage College of Albany, with funds from the estate of Kayla Mitchell. The first public project was the exhibition Battlesight: Dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan by International Photographers, October 22 through December 19, 2010, at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. The exhibit, curated by founder and director Timothy Cahill, featured work of Pulitzer-Prize winner Cheryl Diaz-Meyer, Balazs Gardi, and Teru Kuwayama. Critic David Brickman wrote, “It's as though the International Center of Photography opened a branch in Troy. The exhibition Battlesight is that good and that important.”
Selections from Battlesight were selected as the featured exhibition for the 2011 Rensselaerville Festival of Writers, July 29-31, 2011.
Other activities included an exhibition of Vietnamese children's art, readings by author/activist Helen Benedict, and public interviews of writers and artists.
In 2013, operations at the Center were suspended when founder Timothy Cahill accepted an invitation to pursue studies in art and theology at the Yale Divinity School. Plans are currently underway for activities to resume in the Fall of 2017.
—updated April 2017