Thinking of himself as an abstract expressionist, Builder Levy majored in art at Brooklyn College, where he studied painting with Ad Reinhardt, art history with Milton Brown, and photography with Walter Rosenblum, who became a mentor and friend. He earned a master’s degree in art education at NYU, where, he studied metal welding junk sculpture, and incorporated the study of the FSA photography program, the Photo League, and the Kamoinge Workshop, whose founding director was Roy DeCarava. Friendships with Paul Strand (with whom he lived for ten days in 1973) and Helen Levitt, added insights into his role as an artist. As a New York City teacher working with teens for 35 years, enriched his life and his vision.
With an aesthetic grounded in realism infused with intense humanity, Levy’s hand-printed gold-toned gelatin silver print and platinum print photographs blend social documentary, fine art, and street photography “to produce works of power and beauty” (from the introductory essay Engaged with Life;Engaged with Art,Builder Levy Photographer, by *Naomi Rosenblum.
Photographer Builder Levy was awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Alicia Patterson Foundation, National Endowment of the Arts, Puffin Foundation, a Furthermore publication grant, 2 commissions from the Appalachian College Association, and, in 2019, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn College Alumni Association. Levy is currently working on a book and exhibition project of his recent demonstrations photographs interacting with his 1960s demonstration work, focusing on their relevance, relatedness, and intersectionality.