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« Information on how to use your flash strobes | Main | Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo »

September 03, 2007


Fatoumata Ceesay

Lecture review

I recently got the chance to go on a photo tour with Michael Kienitz, photographer of Iceland’s Vanishing Beauty. The tour was held in Chazen Museum, and Kienitz talked about how he came into the five-year-long project and how it’s impacted Iceland as a whole.

Kienitz used his photographic experience to tell a moving story about climate change, and its effect on ice glaciers in the region of Vatnajökull National Park. His photos were taken years ago, and at this point in time, the area in which those photos were taken are vastly different. There is a real threat of these glaciers disappearing, which threatens Iceland’s tourism economy and highlights the dangers of climate change.

Animals no longer have as much food to eat (especially the seals) Kienitz said in his tour. Glaciers are constantly melting, even in the winter. As more melt, there will be less people going to Iceland to contribute to their economy, which will hurt the country.

The photos themselves were so beautiful. Kienitz had aluminum prints, which made the colors vibrant and saturated. WHen asked if he did any photoshop on his photos, he said that he prefered to keep the original colors in the photo so people could see what the image looked like in real life.

Overall, it was an incredibly informative tour and I will definitely be booking my flight to Iceland before they melt.

Mariah Watts

Hi there! There is an upcoming art show tomorrow (Oct. 5) from 6-9 pm on the 6th floor of 316 West Washington Ave. It features local print art and photography! Also, New Midwest Photography is being showcased at the Overture Center until Oct. 28

Susu Schwaber

Iceland’s Vanishing Beauty by Michael Kienitz
Photography Show
Art 576
Susu Schwaber

The first thing you run into when you walk into the exhibit is a pile of maps in a folder to your left. This map shows you exactly where every single one of his photos in this exhibit was taken. There were two main areas that they were taken at and they were both located in tiny peninsulas where water juts into the land.

There is also a video playing with soothing music at the far end of the exhibit. It sets the tone for how Kienitz wanted his viewers to feel. Each photo is printed on a thicker piece of glossy paper and they are displayed in a way where they are around 1 inch away from the wall, almost as if they were just floating in the air. I think he did this so that it would add to the more majestic feeling that you get when you stare at these photos.

What I immediately thought of when I saw his photographs were that they seemed so unreal. These figures that he has captured look so untouched and glossy. The ice have divots in them, but that doesn’t make it look impure at all. It adds shadows and lights every area of the iceberg.

The colors aren’t very vivid in the beginning, but once you walk past a couple, you start to really see the blue shine through. Many of the images seem to have this dark overcast of gloominess over them, but it allows for the shining sun to fly through and create a stark contrast with the gloomy images.

Many of the images also depict him in them compared to the monstrosity of the icebergs. He does this to show how grand nature is compared to him. He also wears an orange jacket which I think he did because orange is the opposite of blue on the color spectrum. He really stands out this way and he does this on purpose just to show how little we are as humans.

One of my favorite photos from the collection was called “Seals Lying on Ice” Nov 29, 2017. I loved this photo because he seemed to capture a moment where all of the seals were perfectly lined up along the coast sleeping. It’s strange how nature just goes through its course and seems to still be able to harmonize its creatures in such a way like this.

There was one photo that didn’t seem to fit the blue theme to his exhibit. The image had the same exact subject in it, but it was purple because it was showing the sunset. This photo was a nice reminder that Iceland is not just all blue, it can have some color too.

Overall, I really enjoyed the exhibit because it shows you a side of nature that you do not get to see everyday. His title, Iceland’s Vanishing Beauty depicts the physical components that are vanishing (such as the ice melting) and the mental components that we do not see everyday. Everyone just forgets about all of these places that we don’t get to see everyday, so it is nice to have a photo collection that allows us to see these beautiful scenes in nature.


I recently went to the 10 Biennial PhotoMidwest Juried Exhibition at the Overture Center. Although I went with little expectations, it was still nothing like what I had expected. The show truly blew me away, especially with how beautiful a lot of the photos were. As I walked through each photo, I was struck with how clear the photos seemed to be. I don’t pretend to know everything about photography, but what I do know is that the prints came out spectacularly. Some of my favorites included Kadinsky’s Lines by Guntis Lauzums, Rooster by Melody Carranza, Marcella by Christopher Priebe and Golden Fog Veil by Jack Long.
Kadinsky’s Lines was just very simple, yet elegant to me. The colors were rich and deep, and the contrast made it all pop. I think I also really liked it because blue and yellow are quite complementary, and so the whole image was calming and easy to look at. I’ve also always been fascinated with architectural photography because it doesn’t seem like something that would make the most beautiful photographs since it holds no emotions, but a photo like this definitely fights against that thought. It’s a beautiful photo that’s composed very well.
At first, I didn’t know what I was looking at entirely when I saw Rooster. I knew it was a bird, but something seemed off with the photo. It was still beautiful, but I felt like I wasn’t getting something. I then realized that there was a dog in the photo. The fact that I couldn’t find the dog at first made me so intrigued with the photo that I stayed there until I did see the dog. That made the photo that much more interesting to me. It was so crisp and the colors were so inviting that I couldn’t help but linger on for a few moments. It is definitely one to remember.
Marcella was by far my favorite photo. The artist made a great choice to make the photo black and white instead of color. While color does have the potential to have rich colors, I think taking the color out really lets the audience focus on the photo itself, and it is a photo that deserves that kind of attention. First off, the photo itself is just so intriguing, and makes me want to know more about the person in the photo. The The presence of dark blacks and bright whites makes it quite whole, and seeing the varying tones of darkness in the skin makes the whole image pop.
Golden Fog Veil was also a confusing one for me. In fact, I’m not sure if I still understand it. I thought it was very cool how the artist was able to capture paint (I think that’s paint) splatter in fog. That is something I would be very interested in learning how to do.
The whole exhibit was filled with photos that made you stay for long periods of time, just so you (or at least I) can learn more about what probably went into making them. It was a wonderful experience.

Conley Clark

“New Midwest Photography” curated by Andy Adams, on display at the James Watrous Gallery inside the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, WI.

The exhibit for “New Midwest Photography” drew me in almost instantly. I responded to set up of the exhibit first. I appreciated how the artists had their own, small exhibit space carved out as if especially for them. It created something of an intimate relationship between the artists and viewer, as opposed to the works of each artist on display in an alternating fashion. I enjoyed walking through each exhibit of artist’s work, being able to get a feel for their body and style of work.

I liked reading Andy’s introduction to the show as well. He talks about how he grew up in Wisconsin, but the state and the people throughout the Midwest, though ostensibly a beautiful landscape, never quite got the appreciation it deserves from photographers and artists. His story of creating FlakPhoto was impressive, and the exhibit “New Midwest Photography” allowed image-makers from Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest to document their homes and environments, and showcase them as a place of belonging. It highlighted the Midwest as a unique place, something special, and a place many call home.

I was surprised to see so much diversity within the exhibit itself. From black and white portraits to lush, brightly colored stills of streets and architecture. I particularly enjoyed the works of Lindley Warren, from Des Moines, Iowa. I loved her documentary style, and the way her subjects are highly stylized in their positioning within their familiar environments. Taken in the grassy parts of a neighborhood trailer park, two subjects look directly into the lens and it makes for a very compelling image. You can see their past drawn in wrinkles on their faces. And it’s as if they are just as much attached to the land they live on as the grass and trees that surround them.

I really enjoyed this show because of how some of the artists provide a platform for their subjects to be visible, to be noticed. It reminds the viewer, or myself, that the Midwest is full of diversity and creativity. There is exceptionality in something that can easily be cast off as humdrum or boring. And as someone who left for the east coast in search of a graduate school, I found myself missing the warmth the Midwest as a landscape and a people gave me that I couldn’t find elsewhere. It was home.

Susu Schwaber

9/7/18 Photo Lecture
“Between Gravity and What Cheer” by Barry Phipps

Barry’s photos focus mainly on photographs he had taken in Iowa for 5 years. He took this one photo of a car wash sign located about a brick wall. He then wanted to replicate that composition throughout the rest of the series because he enjoyed it so much. So whenever he would look around for images to take photos of, he would think of that position in his mind.

I thought this was an interesting way of curating a series because Barry has a way of creating a collection without it being too obvious. It’s also a good tip for when you aren’t sure of how to start creating your own series of photos.

One of Barry Phipps’ main beliefs is that “something photographed is different than the thing being photographed”. Which means that he is trying to capture that memory in the moment. It will never be the exact same as the memory, but instead, it will act as a reminder.

He also talks a lot about things that don’t seem fleeting but are, like landscapes. So he tries to edit his photos and make them seem kind of dream like with certain lighting. This adds to the reminiscent vibe he is trying to get across in his photographs.

One more thing to take away from this lecture was that he was trying to pay a little homage to Evan Walker’s, “American Photographs”. The very last photo he took looks exactly like the last photo of Walker’s book. Barry Phipps did not do this on purpose, but his intentions were the exact same as Walker’s. It’s like taking a photo back on himself turning into an American.

Going to this lecture has definitely given me a better appreciation of photography. When I first saw Barry’s book cover photograph, I thought it was just a nice photo and nothing else. After I heard his entire talk, I learned to really look at the details and understand the story behind the photo. The reason why there is a blank white spot on the ceiling is because the owner of the gas store was painting around a bird’s nest. Every time I see that photo, I think of that moment Barry shared with us and it makes me smile.

Kiki Arthur

Andrew and Alex Lichtenstein
Marked, Unmarked, Remembered: A Geography of American Memory
This photo series was visual depiction of the sites and times were minorities, particularly African American and Native American people, faced great racism and prejudice. It highlighted landscapes and images of the traumatic experiences that we as a people faced. The intention of the series was kind recreate these scenarios for the audience and allow them to see what exactly was going on at that time. They wanted to give the places meaning. So, while Andrew photos were, in my opinion, distinctive enough, Alex gave the history behind the images. While I believe the intent was a positive one, I did not enjoy this lecture at all. It made me very uncomfortable and highly skeptical. I wanted to know about why they created this series, of what importance was it to them, and why they didn’t think to have some African American or Native American representation with them? It made is seem like they were making a profit off the struggles of other people and it didn’t sit right with me. However, one thing it did teach me to do was to point these things out to my fellow photographers and artist. The impact of your work might now necessarily reflect your intent.

Tehan Ketema

A MMoCA Photo Lecture: The Story Behind Photographer Mary Ladoni

Mary Ladoni is an Iranian photographer and is currently a MFA graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. On Monday April, 30th 2018 Ladoni was an artist lecturer at the MMoCA “Speed Dating” event which brought artists from Madison together to give the community a look into their processes, mediums, and minds. Not only was it packed with ten different artists of different disciplines, there was opportunities for the audience to enter a raffle and win art from each presenting artist.

Ladoni opened up her talk with an entryway into her childhood, describing where she grew up and how she ended up being in Madison, Wisconsin. As a child growing up during the Iraq-Iran war, she found herself at odds with the conflict and political strife. She spoke about the struggle of being a photographer in a country that was not yet able to support her as an artist.

After about 10 years in the work field, she decided to take a chance and apply for her visa to study art in America the way she originally wanted to. Before that, she went back and visited the city she grew up in, which she had felt little connection to as a child, and began on a “journey to self”. There she used those explorative photos as part of her application and after being denied twice for her visa she finally was able to come to study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She showed the audience a few of the works she did while on her trip to her hometown and how they have evolved into her time at the university. I found that her portrait shots into the city held a vulnerable, soft, and resilient presence. Ladoni found a way to connect to her childhood through her photography that no one else could have captured, but her; her work felt like her journey was not only a means for her to delve into her roots, but for her hometown to find her again. And with that, they were simply beautiful and successful shots from the composition, to her choice of (or lack of) color, and more. From that discovery work, she also concentrated on youth in school, she connected their stories with portraits of them and the environment they are in. Her recent work researched ways in which text, both in Farsi and its english translations could interact and pursue the intentions of the overall pieces. She inquired stories/thoughts from the youth as means to reflect the communities they come from and highlight them as individuals. Personally, I found this to be an instinctual step in her work to pursue as it mirrored her own pursuit to herself, but now she is using her art to give voice to the youth.

Her art is about “working on concepts which are mainly related to identity, gender, and displacement.” As a first-generation student, I found much to relate to in her work and this innate need to re-discover where she grew up and examine this idea of home. One thing that stuck out to me was in her exploration of self. She came to the realization that she can never separate herself from the political issues of Iran, that her work will always be in conversation with the countries past, current, and future states.

There is always this ongoing conversation in the art world about whether or not it is the artist's responsibility to be a commentator, both with and without their art, on current climates. This begs the question, what is the political responsibility of the artist? As aforementioned, I can relate to Ladoni in this regard as well, being a citizen of two countries that are very contrasted in its bureaucratic affairs on every level and who’s own art digs on the societal and systematic implications on the identity of Blackness from every angle.

Landoni’s lecture proved to be both insightful and thought-provoking. Having interacted with her work a few times before, I am entered into a new vision of her ideas and the products of such. I am very intrigued in witnessing the growth of her art and how/what ways/if it continues to seek this “journey of self.

Tehan Ketema

CAMP: An Art Lofts Photo Show by Sarah Stankey

I attended the photo show of Sarah Stankey at the Art Lofts on February 21st. The show, CAMP, really captured me in its presentation detail and the clean ways that the artist allowed the audience into the work without creating an overflow of information; there was a delicate balance between being present in the space and in the work. Having some familiarity with her work, I think it was beautiful seeing its range and progression in a single room as one portfolio of work for show.
The interaction between human and nature permeated through the room, whether it was for lack thereof or the way that nature interacts with person. I am a fan of the composition of the work and how it is framed in regards to the wooden shadow boxes and how they worked in relationship to each other. As a person who often does not shoot in the thick of nature, I thought there was a great peace and mystery to its use that I loved in conversation with the conceptual aspect of the work.

Cameron Smith

David Guttenfelder

As a part of the Overture Center’s “National Geographic Live” series, photographer and National Geographic fellow David Guttenfelder presented a lecture titled “A Rare Look: North Korea to Cuba.”
With a career spanning over 20 years as a photojournalist and documentary photographer, Guttenfelder’s work includes stationing in various African countries including Ghana and Rwanda, documenting troops for much of the war in Afghanistan, opening the first North Korean bureau for the Associated Press, and documenting the first cruise ship to Cuba when it re-opened to the United States in 2016.
One of the most interesting aspects about his career was that Guttenfelder accidentally created a career for himself. He was given a camera by his grandfather during his teenaged years, allowing him to grow a love for it as a hobby. When he was older, his studies led him to find a passion in African languages, eventually learning Swahili and developing a knowledge and love of the culture in various African countries. When a journalism professor offered the chance for a student to travel to Ghana and translate and document the trip, Guttenfelder got his first taste of documentary photography and cultural immersion, spending his subsequent post-grad years documenting the nation.
Guttenfelder talked a lot about exploring the unexplored places, and often getting chosen for assignments because of his ability and willingness to go places no one else would. He talked of always entering new countries like North Korea and Cuba open to learning about the people and investing in them to be able to create the most authentic images and depictions of the places he traveled. This was important for him because, for many of the countries he visited, not only would he probably be the only American many of the people he met would know, but he had to show people of the United States a real message of what these places were. His ability to do so really showed in his images and I admired his mindset in photographing these places.

Sara Warden

Exhibition Review: This Beautiful World

This exhibition featured many students who have had the opportunity to travel around the United States or world and took pictures and created paintings of their travels. It was an event co-hosted by Souvenirs magazine (a WUD organization) and Babette Travel. All the photographs being displayed were taken by digital or 35mm cameras and printed on printing paper. Most of the photos were beautiful landscapes and they were not tourist spot photos. All the photos looked like they were off the beaten path and took some climbing or hiking to get the photo. The paintings were abstract and very beautiful. They were landscapes, but had people hiding within the lines of the mountains. The location of the gallery was wonderful as well. It was at Yatra Studio, which is located in a train car off of West Washington. It was such a beautiful set up with lights that lit of the photos nicely and had an open bar at the back of the train. The gallery was also a space to form connections, they said. They wanted people meet others while looking at the many pieces of art by students. They also wanted inspire people to travel more and see the world. One thing I would change was the placements of some photos. Some were too high and so it was hard to get a good look at the photo. I realized that it was a smaller space, but it would have been great to have the same perspective on all the photos. Overall, it was a great gallery, with great art, was very inspirational and made me want to travel more.

Quinn Paskus


For my artist talk I attended Alejandro Meitin’s lecture presented by the colloquium, put on by the UW-Madison Art Department. Meitin presented his collaborative project, Casa Rio, which introduced concepts relating to space in motion, a place of encounter, training, and learning of creative practices that embody environmental commitment. Based as an organization in the heart of the Plata Watershed in South America, the goal is to share information and develop actions to protect the environment in that specific area and others surrounding it. Meitin worked as an artist, lawyer, and environmental activist, documenting the projects being worked on through photography and videography in the Plata Watershed. His documentary photography had an artistic style that felt fresh, yet provided the necessary imagery to help make a change. I found his approach to documentation inspiring, as he was able to maintain his artistic integrity while still being able to tell an accurate and just narrative of what was happening in the areas he was located.

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!

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