Tag Archives: Art Institute Of Boston

Filter Photo Festival Week: Samantha VanDeman

This week, I am sharing a few of photographers that I met at the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago….

It was a pleasure to see Samantha VanDeman’s terrific series, Forgotten Hotels in person. I’ve seen a number of images in exhibitions and online over the year, but to see the nuance of color and the extent of the series made the work more meaningful.  Samantha received a BFA from Columbia College Chicago and earned a MFA in photography from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2009. It was during her time at the low residency program at AIB, that she was able to have independent studies with artists such as Anne Wilson, Mayumi Lake, Jeanne Dunning, and Laura Letinsky.

Samantha already has a long exhibition resume including work seen at  Review Santa Fe, The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO; Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR; Emory Visual Arts Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Smash Box Studios, Culver City, CA; Denver International Airport, Denver, CO; Finch and Ada, NY; New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery, New Orleans, LA; Las Manos Gallery, Chicago, IL; Gallery 263, Cambridge, MA; Midwest center for Photography, Wichita, KS; Gallery 808, Boston, MA; Change Artist Space, San Francisco.  In 2012, Samantha was selected as a finalist for Photolucida’s Critical Mass. And most recently, she received first place in The International Photography Awards for architectural interiors. Samantha has been published in Shots Magazine and The International Photography Annual.

Forgotten Hotels 
This photographic series is of abandoned hotels that are on the verge of being demolished. Each hotel has sat vacant for ten -thirty years, with several failed attempts to bring them back to life. With plans of demolition, each structure awaits an uncertain future. In my work, I’m drawn to places that are isolated and have been forgotten about by society. I use my camera to examine these areas that often go unnoticed. Through the use of light, I try to capture the beauty the once existed in these magnificent environments. By photographing these structures, I attempt to provide a visual record of what might be lost forever.

Edie Bresler

The subject of luck and money is always an intriguing one.  The mix of judgement, fascination, and a sliver of hope are a combination worth exploring. Boston photographer, Edie Bresler is doing just that with the lottery culture and her series (in progress), Lottery Economies.

Edie received a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts and an MFA from the Art Institute of Boston. She was recently awarded an artist in residency at The Boston Center for the Arts beginning Spring 2013. Her solo exhibits include The Griffin Museum of Photography, the Visual Studies Workshop, and CEPA. She has been included in numerous group exhibitions in the United States, Canada and the Middle East and her photographs are featured in public collections such as the Houston Museum of Fine Art, The Whitehead Institute, and Fidelity Bank. Edie also writes for Photograph magazine, covering exhibitions and photo-related happenings in the greater Boston area. Edie is on the faculty of Simmons College in Boston, where she teaches photography and digital imaging. 

Lottery Economies 

 As the economy continues to stagnate and income disparities widen, communities across America grow more dependent on state lotteries to cover budget shortfalls. $70 billion is spent annually in North America on the lottery, which is more than the total spent on movies, music and porn combined. In the US, 44 states operate lotteries and Massachusetts has the highest per capita lottery spending in the nation ($807/ adult). Aggressive media coverage paid for by the state, typically highlights big winners and annual revenues generated for education and other essential services, but finding tangible effects in communities is illusive.




Azores Discount Tobacco located in a one-family house in Fall River, MA. They sold a winning $1,000,000 scratch ticket in 2011 and the owner received a $10,000 bonus commission.

 I focus on archetypal lottery stories not part of the usual hyperbole. A lot of these stories happen in small family-run convenience stores and marketplaces where lottery tickets are sold, and where the big money sometimes trickles down. Owners are a diverse cross-section of the community. Some are recent immigrants but others have operated their small store for decades.


Fast Freddie’s located in Wakefield, MA sold the first winning $10,000,000 scratch ticket, which in 2009 was the largest payout for a scratch ticket in the nation. The store received a $50,000 bonus commission. 



The lottery is an endemic part of their business or as one vendor put it, “a store without lottery is like a bar without alcohol.” After selling a winning ticket, stores become known as lucky and the resulting happiness contagion creates brisk sales we all benefit from whether you play the lottery or not. Owners receive a 1% bonus commission but each state has its own designated maximum payout. I photograph winning stores during the fleeting moments of twilight to evoke the tenuous seduction of hope and desire that accompanies the purchase of every ticket.


Located in Hull, MA, this family-run marketplace sold a winning $1,000,000 scratch ticket in 2011 and received a $10,000 bonus commission.

Steve is the fourth generation of his family to operate Coulson’s News in Albany NY, which has been open for business since 1895. In March 2011 they sold a winning MegaMillions ticket worth $319 million. So far this is the largest jackpot won by a single ticket in the games history. An office pool of 7 workers who were all regular customers shared the money. Steve received the maximum bonus commission, which in NY State is $10,000.

In March 2012, the jackpot for MegaMillions reached a record $640 million. One of three winning tickets was sold in this store located in the town of Red Bud, Illinois (pop. 3683). FKG Oil, a corporation that owns 73 other stores, received the maximum bonus commission, which in Illinois is $500,000. In an unusual gesture they gifted $50,000 to the 7 workers at the store.


Denise, the manager at Motomart received a small share of the $500,000 bonus commission. With her $25,000 windfall she was able to purchase a bassoon for her husband, a retired member of the Air Force band. “We tried to get a bank loan several years ago but were turned down.”

Darla, a regular player, sold the winning MegaMillions ticket in March 2012 at Motomart. As assistant manager she received a bonus commission of $12,500. When the other 7 clerks in the store found out they had to split the remaining $12,500 bonus, 3 of them quit in protest. “Money changes people.”


Frank and Rafaella DiFonzo own and operate Bill’s Food Shop, the oldest family-run convenience store in Somerville, MA. Frank points to a photograph of his father who helped him buy the shop. They raised three children in the apartment above the store. After 54 years in business they have never sold a big winning ticket.


Ed and Nancy have been in the convenience store business for over 25 years. They currently operate four stores in rural communities in central Maine. Theirs is a family business where all three children lend a hand after school and on vacations. Kate is a college junior, Nick recently enlisted in the Army and Matt is a star athlete at the local high school.


The owner is the third generation of his family to work this small shop located in Randolph, MA. He sold a winning $1,000,000 scratch ticket in 2010 and received a $10,000 bonus commission. Eight years earlier he sold a winning $4,000,000 scratch ticket and received a $40,000 bonus. His customers consider Minihan’s a lucky store.


Harry Patel with his family inside Jay’s located in Lowell, MA. He sold two winning $1,000,000 scratch tickets in the last 5 years and the customers in the surrounding neighborhood consider his store very lucky.


Amar Ramadan, proprietor of Neighborhood Market located in Somerville, MA. He sold a winning $1,000,000 scratch ticket in 2001 and used the $10,000 bonus commission to put a down payment on a house nearby where he still lives with his wife and two daughters.


Peter Wong with his youngest son is the proprietor of S&R Market located in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn, NY. He makes origami sculptures with the discarded lottery tickets his customers leave behind.


Cassie’s Corner Store, a family-run business in Canton, MA sold a winning $1,000,000 scratch ticket and received a $10,000 bonus commission.


Tony is a ticket hunter. He collects discarded tickets from the trash of neighborhood stores looking for winners that were inadvertently thrown away. “Some weeks I make as much as $250.”

Elizabeth is a reformed scratch ticket addict who used to spend as much as $100 each week on tickets: “I was convinced it would solve all my problems.”Located in Brockton, MA, they sold a winning $1,000,000 scratch ticket in 2010 and received a $10,000 bonus commission. Wally Markham always said if he ever won the lottery he would use the money to purchase and revitalize his favorite local golf course located in La Porte City Iowa (pop. 2321). When he won $10 million dollars on a scratch ticket in 2012 he made good on that promise and the course is once again the center of this small Iowa community.

Dana Mueller, Camp Pine Grove #II

Dana Mueller, Camp Pine Grove #II

Dana Mueller

Camp Pine Grove #II,
Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, 2009
From the The Devil’s Den series
Website – DanaMueller.net

Dana Mueller was born and raised in Thuringia, East Germany until the fall of the Berlin Wall. She received her MFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art + Design. Awards include St. Botolph Foundation Grant, first place Visual Art Exchange Award, second place in the Hotshot International Next Perspective Award, and Faculty Development Grants, Art Institute of Boston. Her work has been extensively exhibited, including the Le Lieu Unique/ National Center for Contemporary Arts, Nantes, France, the Pavillon de Bagatelle, Paris, France, Rick Wester Fine Art (NY), the Photographic Resource Center (MA), Gallery 360, Northeastern University (MA), Danforth Art Museum (MA), Black Cloud Gallery (IL) and Visual Art Exchange (NC). Recent publications include Purpose (France), Artscope, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Photo Review. Mueller currently teaches at the Art Institute of Boston, Northeastern University and the Massachusetts College of Art + Design.

Bruce Myren

Bruce Myren is one of those lucky individuals whose terrific Kickstarter project has been fully funded, and he still has a month still to go…but Bruce still needs funds to fully complete a fascinating body of work that looks at the Fortieth Parallel across the United States. It allows us to travel across the country in a straight line, and experience the landscape through Bruce’s exquisite lens. This is a significant documentation of our country and I hope you consider backing his efforts.


The idea for “The Fortieth Parallel” came to me while I was living in
Boulder, Colorado in the 1990s. My friend Eric and I were sitting on top
of Flagstaff Mountain gazing at the plains. I noticed that a road,
Baseline Road, went east in a straight line towards the horizon. Eric
explained that that particular road marked the 40th degree of north
latitude and was the baseline for the surveying the Kansas and Nebraska
Territory. At that moment, I knew I had a project: I was going to
document the 40th parallel across the whole country, creating a new
survey along this historic line.

Bruce lives in Cambridge, MA and holds a BFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from the University of Connecticut, Storrs.  He is deeply committed to education and is the current Chair of the Northeast Region of the Society for Photographic Education, as well as a Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, Adjunct Faculty at the Art institute of Boston at Lesley University, and a Visiting Lecturer of Art at Amherst College.  He had exhibited and been published widely.

Images from The Fortieth Parallel
 N 40° 00’ 00” W 74° 03’ 32” Normandy Beach, New Jersey, 1998


My work
investigates issues of place and space and boundaries and borders through the
exploration and employment of various locative systems.  I am most interested in how macro
systems relate to micro experiences of land and landscape.  My recent series include an
investigation of the Fortieth Parallel of latitude; a study of the poet Robert
Francis’s one-person house in the woods of Amherst, Massachusetts; and a piece
that documents the view from every place I have lived to where I live now.
 N 40° 00’ 00” W 77° 00’ 00” East Berlin, Pennsylvania, 2006

I am fascinated
with location-based systems and my work engages the nature of how humans
measure the world.  I often use or
create rules to govern the location or approach in order to make a series of
photographs. 
This method
stems from my interest in maps and mapping, historical photographic surveys,
and conceptually-based art practices. 
It is through these influences that I started to see and make pictures:
by measuring, coordinating, and locating myself within the world.
 Currently my work has been progressing from more universally
recognized ideas of place towards more personal re-presentations.  

 N 40° 00’ 00” W 78° 00’ 00” Harrisonville, Pennsylvania, 2006
The Fortieth Parallel is a panoramic examination of precise yet arbitrary places found along this important parallel of latitude across the American landscape.  Since 1998, I have been photographing the 40th degree of latitude across the United States at every whole of degree of longitude using a GPS.  At each confluence, there is approximately a 20 square foot area in which I can compose a view.  

 N 40° 00’ 00” W 79° 00’ 00” Somerset, Pennsylvania, 2006

This important baseline was used in surveying state boundaries and creating townships and homesteads, and was a key marker in particular for the settlement the West.  I am interested in the relationship between the 19th century’s understanding and construction of landscape, location, and place and our 21st conceptions.  There are 50 confluences on land, with 2 at landfall on each coast.  To date, I have been to 32 of the 52 sites; in the June 2012, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the finishing of the project.

N 40° 00’ 00” W 81° 00’ 00” Belmont, Ohio, 1999

N 40° 00’ 00” W 83° 00’ 00” Columbus, Ohio, 1999

N 40° 00’ 00” W 95° 00’ 00” Fillmore, Missouri, 2007

N 40° 00’ 00” W 97° 00’ 00” Hollenberg, Kansas, 2007

N 40° 00’ 00” W 98° 00’ 00” Webber, Kansas, 2007

 N 40° 00’ 00” W 102° 00’ 00” Saint Francis, Kansas, 2008
 N 40° 00’ 00” W 103° 00’ 00” Otis, Colorado, 2008

 N 40° 00’ 00” W 104° 00’ 00” Hoyt, Colorado, 2008

 N 40° 00’ 00” W 105° 00’ 00” Broomfield, Colorado, 2008

 N 40° 00’ 00” W 108° 00’ 00” Meeker, Colorado, 2000

N 40° 00’ 00” W 124° 00’ 00” Whitehorn, California, 2012

Minor Characters: Paolo Morales, Ana Lerma, and Emily Holzknecht

I thought I’d celebrate some terrific thesis portrait work that recently opened in Boston. Paolo Morales, Ana Lerma, and Emily Holzknecht all explore their own interior relationships as they search for a photographic relationship with strangers. Inconsequential characters take on leading roles in their exhibition, Minor Characters.

Minor Characters is a BFA thesis exhibition on view at the Art Institute of Boston Gallery at University Hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ana, Emily and Paolo are three portrait photographers in search of connections. Lerma’s photographs strangers on the streets of Boston and New York in search of a reflection of a photographic encounter. Holzknecht’s portraits of strangers as well as those close to her explore a relationship between the photographer and the photographed. Morales’ pictures of acquaintances physically interacting explore relationships of struggle and power. The exhibition is on view from March 20-24, 2012.

Paolo Morales is a photographer and BFA candidate at the Art Institute of Boston. He has exhibited work at the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, Kings Highway Library, C Street Gallery, Trevor Day School and Gallery 44, among others. His editorial work has appeared on the cover of College Magazine. In 2010, he curated a show entitled Select Gender at the Farmani Gallery in Brooklyn. He lives in New York and Boston.

Emily Holzknecht was born and raised in northern New Jersey and is currently a BFA candidate at The Art Institute of Boston. Her interest in humanity and narrative lead her to develop a strong interest in the photographic portrait and its power to simultaneously reveal and obfuscate. Her work has been exhibited at the Photographic Resource Center and Laconia Gallery in Boston.

Ana Lerma is a contemporary photographer. Raised in the suburbs of Las Vegas, NV she moved to Boston to pursue a photography degree at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University.

Irina Rozovsky, Untitled

Irina Rozovsky, Untitled

Irina Rozovsky

Untitled,
Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, 2011
From the In Plain Air series
Website – IrinaR.com

Irina Rozovsky (b.1981, Moscow) studied French and Spanish literature as an undergraduate at Tufts University and received an MFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art. Her work has been featured in numerous national and international exhibitions and publications, including 25 under 25: Up and Coming American Photographers; 31 Women in Art Photography; Exposure at the PRC, the Magnum Expression Award, Photo España, and others. Her first monograph One to Nothing was published by Kehrer Verlag, and named on the "Best Books of 2011" lists by Alec soth and photo-eye Magazine. Irina lives in Brooklyn, NY and teaches at the International Center of Photography and the Art Institute of Boston.

Kati Mennett

Kati Mennett creates visual stories, and as her website states, she is in search of the spectacular. Currently living in Massachusetts, Kati graduated from the Art Institute of Boston with a BFA in Photography. He work has been exhibited in the US and Europe and featured in publications such as Another Man, Dayfour, F-Stop Magazine, Vogue Italia, and Umter Magazine.

I like the idea that she is looking for the spectacular in the mundane. Kati is infatuated with the notion that fantasy is constantly a part of reality–and those ideas make us look at ordinary things with a fresh eye.

Portrayers: All of my work is inspired by childhood wonder. I never want to loose that outlook on life, the thrill of the unknown and the ability to find beauty in everything.

My documentary on my family and friends is about finding the beauty in the sometimes mundane and everyday life. Having awareness of how temporary life is, I am chronicling all my experiences and relationships to give them permanence.

My series Portrayers is about creating fantasies. Whether they be about adventure, love or mystery, these images are meant to excite and entertain!