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September 03, 2007


Quinn Paskus

Artist Show: Sarah Stankey (CAMP)

A wonderful exhibit, CAMP, put on by Sarah Stankey at the Art Lofts in Madison, Wisconsin. Sarah’s interest in the natural world and how we interact with it surely came across in the visual imagery presented in the gallery. The conglomeration of natural scenes void of the human figure and scenes that present the human figure embraced by nature gave a great balance to the exhibition. The presentation was thoroughly configured, introducing shadow-boxes that framed many of the prints, wooden backing to house those frames, and grass that covered portions of the gallery floor. All of these natural features tied nicely with the imagery presented, and helped the audience feel a part of the images and scenes shown in the photographs. Particular images that stuck out to me were photos such as the light coming through the trees. A strong sense of the sublime came across in this photograph, I could almost feel the warmth and power of the sun while viewing. The image of the man standing on the shore of the water felt very contemplative, providing great symmetry with the calmness of the water. I noticed that all of the figures in the images are presented in a way that blocks the facial features, or at least keeps them in the shadows. This was an interesting concept to try and unpack while walking through the exhibition. I made it a point not to read the artist statement until the end, hoping to pick up on certain aspects of Sarah’s vision without being directly told. I interpreted this aesthetic choice as a way to show that the individual is not important in these photographs, instead the presence of the human form and how it interacts with the natural world is what is meant to be portrayed. I had a great time viewing this exhibition, and left feeling inspired to get outdoors and shoot. Great work Sarah!

Caitlin Shogren

Cultural Dualities Through a Contemporary Lens - Overture Galleries Artists' Talk
April 4
Caitlin Shogren

I was really impacted by the various ways the panel approached and curated projects based on their identities. David paints, Dakota sews, Erika collages. I think not only do these processes envoke a sense of identity for the artist but also the heritage they are trying to represent.

Knowing Erika, I was drawn to her allusion to collage with her double exposure technique. I think it is very adept to tackle the sense of the past, identity and heritage. I also really like her photos on the paper she utilized. It would have appeared so much different on stark white paper that we are taught to use in class so I thought the new approach was nice and helpful to further understand her position on identity.

I also really related to Dakota's work because I've had experience in bead working and know how time consuming it can become. Just looking at the patch sized renditions of her work must have taken so long to create with as much care as she did. I found in the presentation, it was a bit misleading as far as the pictures she showed but, the references towards her work were very informative.

Abby Kohler

Abby Kohler Lecture Review

On April 11th, I attended the colloquium lecture, who’s guest speaker was Kambui Olujimi, a visual artist from New York. He works across mediums, ranging from photography, video, installation, performance, and sculpture. His work focuses on ideas of public discourse, mythology, and history.

His lecture during this particular period was focused on his video work. He approached the lecture by showing us his videos first, and allowing us to ask questions afterwards, so that he could elaborate specifically on our reactions towards his work.

The first video he played for us is called “In Your Absence, the Skies are All the Same”. This video was based on pre-war notions of love, and was a kaleoidscopic compilation of 40 skies from around the world, merging footage he had captured while traveling. Accompanying this was a mix of various love songs overlapping each other on repeat, not one loop ever sounding exactly the same over a period of time. This allows the viewer to have a different experience each time they look at the footage, and he mentioned how interesting it was to watch how his audience chose to interact with the piece. Some went right up to the large screen and immersed themselves in it, some stayed at a distance, others camped out in a single spot by the screen and only watched from that perspective.

Kambui is really interested in the dance marathons that took place in the 1920’s-1930’s. Through this fascination, he has created work that explores the idea of perpetual motion, and has also moved that into his large installations, photography, and videos.

He mentioned how he liked to think about space, our bodies as forms in space, and the duality of being fixed within systems of oppression, and how to defy that.

One of the videos that I was most intrigued by, called “Happy Together”, was an elegant performance by two dancers, captured like a stop motion film, but through the use of a slow shutter speed, allowed for the prolonged capturing of time and movement, creating a dream-like, painterly video. The small movements shown through these long exposures become very intimate, and serene.

This last piece made me think more about how long exposure photography can be used as more than a texture in a photograph, but to enhance movements that might otherwise be irrelevant, and to use that as an emphasis for emotion.

More of his work can be found on his website.

Carissa Heinrichs

Water is Life: Exhibition Review

In Gallery I on the first floor of the Overture, ‘Water is Life’ showcases a collective of photographs focused on the resource of water. The photographs ranged in what aspect of water they chose to depict: its sustenance, its contamination, its playfulness, and its risk.
Curatorially, the photographs were all-but-one set in black frames, ranging in border width. The frames filled the space in a semi-salon style, giving the effect of overlapping themes. In perception, a viewer could not easily isolate one from another. This could have been done intentionally as a tie-in to the intersecting qualities of water as a controversial resource, but could also be a lack of editing in the selection process. The photographic processes alternated between primarily digital and a few silver gelatin prints. However, the labeling showed some inconsistencies among the prints, as some described the same medium in differing vague terms, such as “archival print” and “fine art photography”.
The photographs themselves ranged sufficiently in aesthetics and focal subject for a group show. A few photographers, such as Tim Connors, were clearly mindful of the relation between the photographs they included, opting to work two photographs together as a near-diptych, originating from a shared body of work. Other photographers exhibited an understanding of water in altered forms, with fog, ice, and its absence evident in a landscape.
With some photographs addressing the contentious circumstances of water today, others that focus on the role of water in play, there emerges an underlining division between water as necessity and water as entertainment. Depending on which photographs the audience is drawn to, the photographs of some aspects of water potentially shape the understanding of another.


Xiaoyue Pu’s Review of A Photo Lecture
Semester: Sp18
Cr No: Photography 576
Professor: Tom Jones

If someone comes to me and asks what the most unforgettable experience I’ve had is during this semester, I would say:” It is the photo lecture that I had with my photography class.” It was not the best lecture. To be honest, I believe I could say it was a terrible lecture. But it was an important one, one that led me to think about American history and the US that I knew about in a different angle.

If I recalled it correctly, the lecture was given by Andrew Lichtenstein, a journalist photographer, and Alex Lichtenstein, a history professor. They recently published a book called Marked, Unmarked, Remembered, which included photographs of historical sites that associated with traumatic history of minorities, African American, Native American and labor history. While I was sitting in the lecture hall and listening to their words, I have to say I did not quite understand most part of it. When I say “did not quite understand”, I mean I knew their words but I did not know the history and background info behind it. Everything became interesting to me until I got back to the classroom and had a long discussion with my classmates who bravely and critically gave their opinions and critiques on the speech. As an international student, I realized how many white people could superficially address an issue on minority without actually caring about the topics, how they talked in a way for the sake of talking a certain thing. My classmates’ comments stayed in my mind till today, and constantly came up to me and made me think about my environment, my personality and my work. How do I avoid similar mistakes? (Actually I do not think they made that mistake. It was they intestinally used the vulnerability of minority topics to benefit themselves) How do address a topic with sincerity and with comprehensiveness. At the same time, how could I transfer that message to my readers, to my audiences? I pushed myself to find the answers.

I would not say I have the answer for this question today. I would say at least I have some thoughts on it and I believe I understand the situations better than I did before. “Never pretend and never bluff”. This is my answer. For example, if I do not know anything about minority’s history in the US, I would never conduct my work on that topics till I did enough research on it. When I would do research, I would never only include my racial people, or any other single group. I would want diversity. Moreover, even with the diversity or after down a huge amount of research, I would never show my work in a manner as if I could speak for that population. In this way, I spoke for myself and I spoke who I really am. I show what I know and I do not speak the part that I do not know. I would acknowledge my limited knowledge to my readers because I believe that’s the basic respect I should show. That’s what I’ve learned through the photo lecture.

Kenzie Bryant

Kambui Olujimi Artist Lecture attended April 18th

Kambui Olujimi is a Brooklyn native and graduate of Parson’s School of Design. With an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts, Olujimi’s work is truly a multi-media practice, including painting, sculpture, videography, dance performance, photography, music production and spatial design. During his talk, he took a very informal approach in which he would spend some time explaining the details of the piece, what went into it, the step by step process and thinking he had, and then would take questions right away. He wanted it to be a conversation (even within a large auditorium) that I thought really aligned with his artistic practice.

By the nature of his work, every piece is completely different from each other and it’s also different everytime it is installed. For instance his piece called In Your Absence is a video and sound installation within a small room in a gallery, in which the video was projected on mirrors that were placed to create a 90 degree angle, thus allowing for reflection onto another. Cubes were placed in the room but at random in order to encourage viewers to move about the room. Every participant had a different experience because of this approach. The music was on a 4 hour loop, but the video was only a 2 hour loop, meaning no matter what, every time you viewed the installation it was a completely different showcase of the work because of how the video and sound interacted.

Though In Your Absence addressed cognitive dissonance of obsession, sappiness and the conventional notions of love, Olujimi’s work tends to take a rather serious tone covering topics such as race and oppression; the everyday lives of those who are less fortunate and have to fight against stereotypes and oppression just to get by. This piece combines photography, videography and music production; all pieces involved in this piece were documented on a day-to-day basis, in which Olujimi observes and participates in. It is evidence of his experiences and those around him.

Throughout Olujimi’s talk, he told us a story of his experiences, thoughts, emotions and reflections. His approach to the lecture allowed us as an audience to join with him on that journey, and understand step by step how his work came to be instead of being just an observer. I would recommend everyone to seek out Kambui Olujimi’s work.

Sarah Stankey

Exhibition Review: “The Art of Still Life” by Eric Baillies

Located within the Bubbler space at the Madison Public Library, the exhibition, The Art of Still Life by photographer Eric Baillies was wonderful. He uses vintage and traditional photography techniques of the past including salt prints and other plate processes. The aesthetic Baillies creates through this is spot on. This combination between old photographic forms and the clean, contemporary gallery space is something I was not sure about. While the juxtaposition of his rustic works against the clinical space was potentially interesting, I did not find that it added anything conceptually to this particular work, rather I felt that it was the default manner in which the Bubbler hangs all their work. This seemed evident because the long white hallway space was shared with a second artist, whose work was hung in a similar manner. In an attempt to create a more purposeful install, Baillies grouped his uniquely framed images in of two to four on the wall and were also printed at varying sizes which added more interest for me. The ideal location for such an exhibition would have been a darker more intimate space that the viewer would feel less “white box gallery” and more like a suggestion of the time period these types of prints were originally created. Of course I understand that these decisions are not always up to the artist. The other artists work also did not add anything to the conversation in my option. While they were both excellent works on their own, I would not have paired them together.

Carissa Heinrichs

Photography Lecture: Zora Murff

In Zora Murff’s address to a small group of faculty and students Thursday March 15th on the UW-Madison campus, he spoke about his work experience as a Tracker for a juvenile detention center, his own photography series, his navigation of mining community for work, his graduate school experience, and his teaching intentions. Murff’s body of work with accompanying explanations were impressive and powerful, revolving around complex societal struggles, although his lecture did not focus sufficiently enough in his discussion of teaching by comparison.

Zora Murff began his talk by discussing his work as a Tracker of youths under surveillance of the county juvenile detention services in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He explained how this shaped his series of work; entitled “Corrections,” photographing the youth he supervised. He took their portraits with permission, obscuring their identities in the process, explaining his approach to the ethics of photographing subjects when the photographer is in a heightened hierarchical position of power. This matter came up in questions later in the lecture and could have been expanded upon in relation to guiding students through this process as well. Murff’s work largely studies sociocultural dynamics regarding incarcerated youth, underprivileged communities, and visualized historical injustice, particularly regarding the imagery applied in implementing or reinforcing these constructs.

Murff referred to his own academic experience as a current graduate student as well, showing work relevant to his masters’ practice. When asked how Murff would incorporate cross-disciplinary practice in a professorship position, he stated his own frustration with his current graduate program’s constraint of media crossover by students. He referred to his sculptural engagement in reclaiming bricks, engraving them and setting them on a plinth alongside other works. He described himself as a novice of interdisciplinary work, yet also very interested and invested in creating more media-versatile work.

Murff described his teaching experience of introductory courses within the graduate school framework. It may have been more beneficial to expand upon the relevance and applicable knowledge gained while working with juvenile parolees. This experience could transfer in ways to his teaching in an academic setting as well. Throughout his talk, Murff seemed centered more on his own artistic practice, than his pedagogical approaches. Whether Zora Murff teaches earlier or later in his career, his work will surely continue to have a significant impact and outreach among many underrepresented communities and give voice to new dialogues.

Sarah Stankey

Visiting Artist Reflection:

The work and career of Zora Murff is very inspiring. He is essentially at the same point professionally as myself and other MFA students and yet he is being interviewed for a seriously amazing, tenure-track position at a prestigious university. It is incredible that he has already published two monographs, Corrections and LOST, Omaha. I have often heard from other artists that it takes years to create a project, find a publisher and create a physical book, but he has managed to do this twice in only three years. I find his confidence and professional history to be a huge motivator for myself. He is so actively involved in the contemporary photography world that I was already familiar with his work when he came to the UW campus last month. He is a curator and involved with collaborative projects with other equally amazing photographers. And he is doing all of this while living in a "fly-over" midwestern state. He is proof that an artist does not need to live in Los Angeles or New York to become noticed.

Not only is his professional life a success but his art work is wonderful as well. Utilizing his background in psychology, he creates work about social justice and class issues. While he was making the work, Corrections, he was actively involved in the lives of those teenagers as a counselor. Because of that relationship, the work feels genuine rather than speculative. Often when artists are creating works about class issues, the images can feel forced and look like an outsider looking into a place they know nothing about. It never feels like he is trying to send a negative message about the kids he works with. Murff's career will be one that I follow in the future because I know he will continue to be a huge success and inspire his audience through a collaboration between mental health sciences and art.

Aida Ebrahimi

Aida Ebrahimi
Lecture reflection
Jason Reblando, March 6, 2018
Jason Reblando was presenting as part of the new photography lecturer hiring group. His presentation was divided based on his work timeline. The first segment was on his project on home, labor, and place, where he photographed people and places and made a portrayed the relationship between the two. He mostly focused on gentrification and social and historical issues related to places and people. His project aimed to document and incubate the history of the places. He focused on architectural details as well as more global view on housing in urban areas. Reblando’s genre is one of a documentary photography where he pairs his creativity with a non-fictional narrative. He photographed the public housings in Chicago over a period of 4 years, where he built trust and relationship with community members in order to document their stories. Reblando focuses on power of representation and ethics throughout his work, as he partners with underrepresented and minority groups. One of the elements in his project was connecting housing projects and city landscaping to the sociological impacts and architectural designs of the Chicago city principal.
One of the more impactful series he presented was on Filipino Diaspora. As a Filipino immigrant he traveled back home to document labor in the Philippines and study the labor economy of the country. Through his observations and personal experiences, he researched question on movement and immigration. Additionally, he studies the change in the land and architecture based on historical and economic development in the Philippines. Lastly, he made a connection between family and economy. He combined traditions and labor to images to portray the connection between the two.

Kayla Nelson

Lecture Review
Corrections by Zora Murff

On March 15th, I attended Zora Murff's lecture titled Corrections. I found Murff's work quite interesting and thought-provoking.

Zora Murff's work focuses on the corrections facility he had experience at as a tracker. He worked with juveniles who were on probation. These juveniles had to wear ankle bracelets, which Zora saw as a form of incarceration.

Through his work, you can see the dualities these juveniles face. They are both free and incarcerated. His work also evolved to include scenes of those on probation, scenes of the crime, and blurred mugshots. He also talked about the detention center photographs and redlining. The detention center photographs were interesting to me because of the historical aspect behind them. They are dense and crowded, and subtract from the lives of those in it. I didn't know that a person's belongings are taken from them when they arrive at a detention center. It was interesting to see the documentation of a person's belongings that they receive when they arrive at the detention center. The objects are very utilitarian and devoid of personal flair. Everyone is given the same thing, which leads the viewer to think that each juvenile is treated the same in the detention center.

The last image of the detention center was very powerful to me. It is devoid of context, so you're not sure if the photo is supposed to be the viewpoint of a person first walking into the facility, or if it is the viewpoint of a person leaving the facility. It has a sense of curiosity, as the viewer thinks about how many juveniles have walked in and out of those doors, some perhaps more than once.

He talked quite a bit about his process on how he came about this series of work. Murff would talk to the juveniles and parents of the juveniles outside of work and explain his concept. He found that those who worked with him on the project were much more likely to listen to him in the professional world of him being a corrections tracker and the child being the tracked. Zora also mentioned that he found the children to either be very excited about the project or very adverse to it. He made sure not to push those who did not want to be involved and made sure their professional relationship didn't suffer because of it.

Overall, I think that Zora Murff's presentation was very informative and made me think a lot about the system of juvenile detention centers and probation.

Isabella Stark

I attended the lector by Jason Reblando on March 6th at 5:00pm. I thought his work was very interesting. He was clearly very focused on the idea of home and being forced out of ones home. I found his narrative approach to photography interesting and captivating. I like how all of his bodies of works though distinctive seemed to have a common thread. I thought his style of portraiture was very effective and I like how he included the architecture of the scene to help tell the story. I could see how his work is more idealogical then technical but I find that to be a good aspect. I really loved the images he did where there were 3 photos side by side. They looked like they were taken at the same time but each just a slightly different frame. I love how the frame interacted with the images and his choice to leave that bit of white rather than put the images together. I also really like how the power point slides itself had a bit of texture to them. They looked like real paper this just exemplified his works and made it feel cohesive.
I thought his lesson plans looked interesting and they were well thought out. I also liked how they could be applied to any skill level. The work of his students was varied and really good. I think it is important that the work of your students does not reflect your own work or vision. I feel that he did a good job letting his students take the instruction in any way they wanted. I especially like the water portrait that was done for the lighting assignment. It was very well framed and the colors were amazing. I also liked how he encouraged his students to dig deeper into meaning and think about how phrases and self perception affect their lives. I thought some very powerful work was created by his students since he gave them the freedom to explore.
I like how he later incorporated tarps into his work because it was a phenomena in the Philippines. As for the Q & A parts I was a bit confused by some of his answers. I think he was trying to touch on as much as possible since a-lot of the questions were all encompassing. I think he handled it well and made sure to keep it light. I really liked his response to the student question. I also found that the shoots of the products in a studio very different form his overall body of work but I thought it did it in a very pleasing way. I loved the background he chose and the way it interacted with the objects. Overall, very interesting and great work!

Isabella Stark

On Wednesday the 21st of February, I attended Sarah Stankey’s show called CAMP. I love the way the work was presented. The wood accents on the wall behind the hung work made it feel so deliberate and like she thought of the whole space while creating her exhibit. I also like the way she chose to hang the photographs. The shadowboxes feel was very calming and reminiscent of nature. The shadowboxes did did not seem force the work into a frame. It made the photographs have room to continue your mind. I also loved the wood chair in the middle it made the space feel inviting. The patches of grass made it feel cohesive. I feel she did a great job bringing the nature outside into this very white plain gallery space. I love it all! It felt very designed.
I decided to go through the gallery without reading the artist statement, since that is what I thought Sarah wanted. I am glad I did that since I could make my own guesses about the work and what she was trying to portray. The images of the male at the time seemed out of place for me. I was not sure if we were to find him sympathetic or destructive. Now having read the artist statement it makes a lot more sense to me. However, I did like wondering what it was about him and why he was there. It kept me very engaged. One of my favorite photographs was the one of the tree with the light coming through its branches. The lighting in that photo was amazing. Most of the time images like that give a eerie vibe, however, the bright green of the leaves and the lightness of the fog and sun made it youthful and exciting to look at. I also really enjoyed the one of the person in the water. It felt like a moment frozen in time. I think the gradient of blue form the sky to the lake was very beautiful. This also makes the color of the waves and figure stand out more. All of the work was really great.
The one thing I did notice was the the one wall seemed a bit more visual dynamic than the others. It was such a large focal point and had so many great pieces on it that the other walls felt a bit bare compared to it. Though I do feel she did a good job of continuing the dark wood with some variation in the other wall. Great choice having the artist statement outside of the gallery space. It did truly convey the beauty of nature and humans impact on it. The use of textual add ons and grass made the space feel as immersive and very intentional. This was a wonderful exhibit!

Susu Schwaber

Lecture Review
Spring 2018 Art 476

Andrew and Alex Lichtenstein
Marked, Unmarked, Remembered: A Geography of American Memory

The photo series (book) is about the unsettling parts of U.S. history that we don’t talk about, particularly about the violent aspects of resistance and racism towards African Americans and Native Americans. Historian Alex Lichtenstein talked about wanting to give this part of America’s history a “visual voice”, which is where Andrew Lichtenstein comes into play.
The premise of the photo series was to allow you to imagine in your head these historical moments and I believe many of his photos allow your mind to recreate these scenarios in your mind. Especially the landscape images because there are no recognizable figures that fill in the memory for you. Andrew spoke about how a place doesn’t have to mean until we give it a meaning through particular actions. Without the context of America’s history, his photos would mean nothing. They would just look like regular old landscape photos that everyone’s seen before. But, the fact that some type of historical event had happened in that area makes it more important, pertaining to the photo.
There was also one question I thought was interesting that came up during the Q&A section. Someone asked him why his photos were in black and white. Alex Lichtenstein enjoyed the fact that they were in black and white but Andrew wished he had done them in color. Andrew’s reasonings were “selfish” because that he said that he loves printing black and white film and that this allowed him to do his own thing on his own time. He also wanted to stray away from the editorial photographs he usually takes as well, but he wished he had done this series in color because it would have brought these issues up in a more contemporary context. Alex, on the other hand, liked the fact that these photos were in black and white because it makes it seem like it is just in the right context. By printing these photos in an old-fashioned way, it makes you kind of remember the historical aspects of our nation and to think back on those times.

Susu Schwaber

Exhibition Show Review
Spring 2018 Art 476

Sarah Stankey

Stankey’s exhibit portrays nature in an ethereal way. When you first walk in, you see a lot of white space that allows you to take a deep breath between each photo. The wooden frames also contribute to the idea of nature as a nurturing object. It holds the picture and lets it stand on its own through its own unique characteristics.
After reading Stankey’s description of this project, I thought she followed through well on what she was trying to portray. She wanted to represent nature as something that still needs to be cared for and as something greater than human kind. The males in the image (all mankind) are shown as accessories to nature, as they should be. She makes the comment that we should only observe and admire; we should only interact with nature by viewing its beautiful qualities instead of claiming nature as our own. We should not take anything, we should only preserve of what is left. By taking a self-discovering journey through nature, we connect with it on a more personal level.
The colors in the photo are vibrant, yet still earthy. I appreciate that she preserved all of these natural colors. Sometimes it is hard to really experience what these moments look like when we capture it on camera, but Stankey has given each image a life of their own through a careful editing style. The highlights in the images are what really bring about the celestial tones. One image in particular (image of a tree with backlit lighting), brings about an ominous presence to it. This may be due to the light escaping through the different trees. It seems as if the rays of light are traveling on their own path and there is no end to their journey. The tree in the middle is the main character of the story. We can see a light airy effect surround the tree which brings about a heavenly aspect to the image. Usually we see angels surrounded by a cloud of air and in this case, it surrounds the tree.
The majority of Stankey’s photos are close-ups of the different aspects of nature such as the snow on the ground, the bark on the tree, or just leaves on stems. She does a good job on focusing in on a particular characteristic of nature as a whole. By creating this clear focus, we are forced to be patient and look at one thing at a time instead of to look at everything at once. It is a nice break from the over-consuming technology that we see everyday.
Overall, Sarah Stankey did a good job on making people aware of how we should treat the earth instead of how we currently treat it.

Aida Ebrahimi

Exhibition Review
Rove: Terrence Campagna & Tom Jones

This exhibition consisted of works from both Terrence Campagna and Tom Jones, though each had different style and focus of work. Campagna's work was a series of digital photographs of reflections in puddles of water. I was intrigued by the playfulness of the images and how they engaged my mind. At the beginning the images deceive the viewer into thinking the photos are upside-down. The images have a careful focus on the details that are reflected on the ground. Images were carefully compositioned and well thought through. The titles of the work were the coordinates of the place that the image was taken, though I do not think the coordinates add significant meaning to the photos. There were no details in the images that would underline the difference in location of the image, and to me that was the beauty of the work, that the global location of the image is not significant, rather the details and the colors are important part of the photos.

The second half of the exhibition was the series Remnants by Tom Jones. This series is a compilation of etched glass and digital photos of casino carpets. Though at the beginning one might think of the images as simple photos of casino carpets, Jones' social and cultural narrative and the pairing of etched glass transforms the photos. The grouping of the images and the etchings brought life to both stills and created a back-and-forth conversation between the two piece to highlight how Whites have exploited and stereotyped Native Americans. One fascinating element of Jones' work was the effect of light on the etched glass. Light creates shadows on the background, deceiving the viewer as if there is a sketch behind them.

Sara Warden

Exhibition Review: Disruptive Perspectives

Disruptive Perspectives is an exhibition that explores gender, sexuality, and identity. It took place at MoCP in Chicago. The only medium used in this exhibition was photography. The artists used photography to "articulate an expansive range of identities that cannot be sufficiently characterized using simplistic binaries." Rather than rendering identity as fixed, these works consider gender and sexuality as "negotiations that are shaped by human psyche, the passage of time, and the complex relationship between self and other."

My favorite was an installation by Barbara Davatz called, "As Time Goes By”. She started her series in 1982 and worked on it for 30 years. She started it when she met the couple Nicola and Kurt and was interested in their similar appearance. The became “very curious about the diverse biographical and physical changes” that “could have occurred in the meantime and gaining confidence in the potential strength of the new work.” She followed the couples as they got married, found new partner, or had children. I found it very intriguing to follow certain people over the years and to see how they grew and found new friends and partners in life. I found it compelling that all the photos were taken on black and white film and that the people never smiled. They had a ‘neutral’ look which made it a little more mysterious. It was a great exhibition and I would definitely recommend.

Sarah Jane Spreng

I attended Tom Jones and Mike Schmudlach’s presentation on the creation of their book “People of the Big Voice: Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879-1942.” This presentation was a part of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s series in honor of American Indian Heritage Month.
I think the most fascinating part of this process was hearing about the ways in which this book came together following the narrative of Van Schaick’s documentation of the Ho-Chunk families’ lives. Not only is this book educational to those who do not identify as American Indian or understand Ho-Chunk culture, but it also seems to be a truthful representation of the community. I, for one, was unaware of all the nuances and symbolism in American Indian garb, for example. Upon Mike and Tom explaining certain examples, each photo told an infinitely deeper story to me. This understanding of such symbolism is a simple, yet impactful lens for someone like myself to have. I am grateful to have attended this presentation, for this exact reason. I think that photography as raw and historically significant as that which is displayed in this book carries a weight that is obvious, but moreover, it is the stories behind the photos which solidify this moments as significant in history.
This book is truly a testament to the importance of photography as a means of documenting history - particularly for groups like the American Indians, who have been oppressed and often forgotten in the larger narrative of American History.

Sarah Jane Spreng

Art Exhibition Reflection:
We’re Better Than That

I attended an art gallery held by a student organization on campus called We’re Better Than That (WBTT). This organization formed with the goal of educating and engaging the male population on campus on the topic of sexual assault as a humanitarian and gender-blind issue. I thas since developed into a co-ed club for this purpose, with specific groups for various communities on campus (e.g., multicultural groups, greek life, etc.). Their Fall Showcase displayed the work of about 20 different students. Specifically unique to this gallery, only about one fourth of the work shown had been created by students who identify as artists.
There was a range of mediums, from sculpture, to painting to photography; moreover, some work had been specifically created for the show, while others were in students’ portfolios. The fact that numerous artists already had work which embodied the spirit of this particular gallery indicates that the conversation takes place all across campus and across different mediums -- literally. A piece that spoke to me was one titled “#METOO,” which was a compilation of newspaper clippings about young men and women who were victims to sexual assault on college campuses. This artists is a member of WBTT, and used the opportunity to show her solidarity with young people like her who have been made voiceless through their experiences and the media's portrayal of them. Each element of the show, including how it was planned out very elegantly by the club president, spoke powerfully about a subject that very often becomes silenced by victims and non-victims alike.


People of the Big Voice: A Talk with Tom Jones & Mike Schmudlach

In honor of American Indian Heritage Month and UW-Madison’s Wunk Sheek’s Native November, the Wisconsin Historical Society hosted three different events that celebrated the histories, cultures, and lives of Native people. The lecture I attended was about the process of People of the Big Voice coming together.

I learned so much in the hour we had in that auditorium; from the photographic recovering process to the community work and collaboration it takes to unearth so much history. Tom Jones mentioned how surprised others were at how quickly the book was formed and lineages aligned, but that it was because “we work collaboratively, it is not about the individual”.
It’s extremely refreshing to see a book with native language alongside English; as a bilingual student of a semitic language, I value the representation that that brings to the people who speak the Ho-Chunk language not only in the forward, but the names these communities of people carried with them. I did not know until this lecture that winnebago was a derogatory term, and that the Ho-Chunk name was reclaimed under Tom’s mother's term. So much of history is rewritten to disregard the facts that include Native people; these photos are a part of the reclaiming of the Ho-Chunk peoples history and the names that were taken from them.
The photographs presented were crisp and each held a story about the person in front of the camera. I’m glad to have gone to the talk and have purchased the book because the back stories behind each image were real and felt so tangible. Tom spoke about the way the film at some point would get re-touched by shellacking the glass and re-touching the faces to look incredibly smooth.


Exhibition Review: Aisthetikos Cuvare

Through September 2nd-Sunday October 29th at the Overture Center of the Arts there was a photo show called Aisthetikos Cuvare(Aesthetic Curves) in the Playhouse Gallery. It was a group show with seven artists who, according to their show statement, “explore the subtle ways in which curves animate the aesthetics of our daily lives”. These artists came together from being in a black and white film photography class together earlier that year and applied as a group show.
The different styles of their photography and the environments they chose to photograph were prominent and individualistic. Even though their work was mixed up among one anothers, after going through a few times it is apparent the themes that were sticking together. One artist focused on the curves of the body; there were pieces that commented on the sexualization of the body, but also the innocence, by the same artist to note.
Another chose to photograph objects from nature and their movements when spun or that were oriented in ways that were confusing to understand what they were at first. Possibly my favorite piece was one by Delany Keshena which had people were stuck sitting with the longest. It was a blurry photo, with just enough light from the sky contrasting the shapes in the foreground to understand what it was if you stood there long enough. Standing too close, suggested a large cat was the true model, but the farther you stood back, the fuller the image became, showing two horses racing on a track with the sun blazing from behind.
Overall, I thought the medium of black and white film photography was the strongest part of the show connecting all the pieces together.

Jane Shen

Reflection of Photography Talk: People of the Big Voice
I went to the photography talk by Tom Jones and Michael Schmudlach. They talked about their book People of the Big Voice. It is a book collecting photographs of Ho-Chunk families by Charles Van Schaick from 1879 to 1942.
I did not really know about Ho-Chunk families before the talk. Therefore, it was a great chance for me to know those group of people and the culture. The artists talked about the reservations of the photos. They also talked about the retouching skills used by Charles Van Schaick. That was interesting because I cannot really imagine how to do retouch on the negatives.
Most of the photos showed the whole body of the people. We could see the details of their clothing. Because those photos are in a large time period, it is interesting to observe the changes on their clothing style. It is obvious that after about 1910, national elements did not stand out a lot anymore. What made that more interesting is that, Charles Van Schaick took pictures of some people during their different ages. Then we could see the changes more clearly.
When we only see the pictures, we might easily ignore the stories behind the photos. Therefore I am so glad that I can hear the stories, relationships between characters and backgrounds of photos directly from the artists.

Jane Shen

I went to the exhibition: The Pinhole Thing by Cameron Gillie at Memorial Union.
The show is relatively small in scale, so I focus more on the layouts and frames rather than the work.
The Pinhole Thing is a photo exhibition which shows works shoot by a pinhole camera. That camera is made by the photographer himself. Therefore, at the entrance of the exhibition, there is the pinhole camera standing there. Besides the camera, the artist put a table there to allow viewers leave feedbacks. Also, there is a short statement talking about his camera and basic information about his works and this show. All the photos are black and white photos. Those photos are framed with dark frames. Besides the frames which are in a unity, the matting style is also consistent and interesting. The artist uses two layers of matt. On the inner layer, he wrote down some information and signed on it.
The show room is relatively small and all the photos are on the four walls of the room. There are about 20 to 30 photos in total. Photos are grouped by contents. Although not all the frames are in the same style, the ones in a group have the same frames. The first group is photo of cameras. Three photos are in that group. The titles are the brands of the cameras in the photos. Two photos are aligned in a row and the third one is one the right.
After this group, there is a group of wood house pictures. One photo which shows the overall look of the house is printed large and lays in the middle. Three smaller photos which shows the details are on the sides of the large one. This group looks so harmonious based on this arrangement.
For the next group, there are three architecture pictures with are at the same size. All of those are 16*16 squares. These looks tidy and clear. It seems like this group is the most accordant one and it is my favorite way to arrange works.
Another interesting group is one with three photos. Unlike the one which has three equal-size photos, these three photos are different in sizes, contents and scales. The artist played with different skills on these three photos. He shows the possibility and variability of the pinhole photography. I think it works for me because the differences are obvious and attract viewers focus more on this group of photos.

Kiki Arthur

Exhibition Review: Hyphenated by WUD Art

Memorial Union hosted an Installment call Hyphenated by the Wisconsin Union Directorate. Hyphenated is an exhibition that explores the experiences of Americans with intersecting identities such as African-Americans or Chinese-Americans. This exhibition brings the conversations to campus by highlighting the stories of students who identify as "Hyphenated". Through this exhibition, their goal was to show the beauty in the diversity and backgrounds of the people of this campus. This exhibition was absolutely phenomenal. During the closing ceremony, there was a feeling of togetherness that was both overwhelming and comforting. This exhibition forced me to see that although I may feel out of place sometimes on this campus, there are many people here of different identities who can relate to what I feel and make this campus a place were I can feel I can feel accepted and at home. The stories of these students were so relatable and it kind of reminded me of the work that one of the students in our photography class. It was so easy for us to feel as though we are the only people experiencing certain things and these stories changed that perspective for me. I think this was a successful exhibition and I would love to see things like this done more.

Kiki Arthur

Exhibition Review: Art & The Afterlife by Eric Adjetey Anang

I attended an exhibition in the Chazen Museum called Art & The Afterlife by Eric Adjetey Anang. Eric is a Ghanaian artist whose work has been controversial since he started. He is a 3rd generation Ghanaian design coffin maker. He has been determined to use these coffins to introduce a side of the Ghanian culture that many people do not understand and may be slightly skeptical about. Many people in Ghana do not even except his work as a form of art. His goal is to challenge viewers about the meaning of mortality and cultural identity. Art & The Afterlife is an installment that explores the afterlife and the funeral traditions of the Ga people of southern Ghana. These traditions include carving coffins into shapes that represent who a person was including their status and their profession. The coffins also incorporate specific colors that represent gender. Gold represents men and white represents women as well as twins. The coffin displayed was in the form of an eagle and I found this extremely beautiful but it also confused because in my experience coffins are something you find beautiful. I loved that it challenged me to think about mortality and find some kind of beauty in it. However, I was still kind of conflicted because I still found this to be a very private thing. I think going forward I would like to see how having some of these exhibition installed in Ghana affect the people there as well as the family members of the persons these coffins are for. Overall it was a very mentally challenging exhibit that forced me to think about a lot of things I wouldn't normally think about and I enjoyed being able to be there to witness his work in person.

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