Tag Archives: California State University

Medium Festival: Kurt Simonson

Featuring photographers seen at the Medium Festival in San Diego….

Sometimes the best part of attending a Photography Festival is not just the lectures, workshops, exhibits, and reviews, it’s simply sitting next to someone you don’t know while enjoying a beer. You learn about their life and interests, and discover over the course of the festival, what a great person you’ve met and realize you’ve begun a friendship.  This was the case with Kurt Simonson.

Originally from St Paul, Minnesota, Kurt is an artist/educator based in Long Beach, CA. Kurt’s work is regularly exhibited throughout the country and internationally, including recent exhibits at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the Foto8 Gallery in London. His work has been featured in Fraction Magazine, he received a Curator’s Choice award from CENTER Santa Fe, and he was chosen as a finalist in Photolucida’s Critical Mass 2012.

Kurt teaches at Biola University in La Mirada, CA, where he is the Associate Professor of Photography in the Art Department. He received a B.S. in Studio Art from Biola University, a Secondary Education Credential from Whittier College, and an M.F.A. in Photography from California State University, Long Beach.

One of the projects that he brought to the Medium festival was Northwoods Journals, work that explores “the tensions surrounding our ideas of home and community, pilgrimage and displacement, belonging and connecting.”


Northwoods Journals

I must have been ten or eleven years old when I first ran across the peculiar envelope that bore my grandmother’s shaky handwriting: “not to be opened until my death.” Tucked in her top dresser drawer amidst other valuables, its striking phrase burned into my memory at a young age. I don’t know exactly when, and I don’t know how often, but I know I visited the envelope numerous times, pondering what could be inside. What could be so important (or tragic) that it must be kept secret in this way?

 I have never been able to shake the hold that piece of paper had over me.  More than just a letter—I was haunted by what it represented. Loaded with latent meaning, yet withholding its story, the letter is my experience of growing up in Minnesota. My family roots go deep into the folklore of the rural Northwoods and retain their hold, despite time and distance. It’s a place where my grandfather was a lumberjack, and a place where cars go to die; it’s where kids have playtime adventures, and where secrets go to be buried. It is a merger of myth and memory that grows more complex as time passes.

Marie-Jose Durquet

I recently reviewed portfolios of photographic educators at the SPE National Conference in San Francisco. This week I am featuring some of the terrific work I got a chance to see….

Marie-José Durquet is a photographic educator, but she also educates through her unique photographs. I was enchanted by her series, Almost Gone, that are in part performance art, sculpture, and photography. The series is a form of public art, bringing awareness to endangered species. She creates fragile outlines of different species out of string and glues them into a public environment, allowing time and tread to eventually remove the object…which is exactly what happens to the species in real life.

Originally from the Basque country, Marie-Jose has worked as a teacher and artist in many parts of the World: in African diaspora: Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and has been on the photography faculty at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, the San Francisco Art Institute, UC Berkeley and California State University, Hayward. Marie-Jose received her MFA in painting and photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BA in Art from UC Davis. She currently lives in San Francisco, CA.

Almost Gone: This multimedia project brings together ideas about the ephemeral nature of art and the changing nature of our environment. Using yarn that I glued to concrete, wood and other surfaces found in urban areas, I made drawings that represent endangered plant and animal species. I chose to illustrate the various subjects with simple lines made from white yarn in order to evoke skeletal remains. This delicate material gives a tangible texture to the subject while creating a semi-permanent art piece. The evolution of each image culminates in a color photograph that documents the subject, process and location.

The inspiration for this project has been a life-long interest in environmental issues, which intensified after moving to San Francisco in the late 1990s and seeing the changes that had taken place over 25 years. The increase in development and surge of high tech industries had led to a reduction of open space and pollution of the natural habitats many species depend on. My choice of city structures and concrete as the background for the drawings is a metaphor for this conflict between urbanization and preservation of wildlife.

While the photographs can hang on a gallery wall, people walking throughout the city might also stumble upon the original drawings; they surprise and confront passers-by in a way that is similar to graffiti. My hope is that these images raise questions and invite dialogue while simultaneously injecting an element of beauty onto the harsh surfaces of the “concrete jungle” that many of us call home.

Photographer #400: Moises Saman

Moises Saman, Spain, 1974, Spain, is a very productive photojournalist based in New York City. He studied Communications and Sociology at California State University. Between 2000 and 2007 he worked as a staff photographer at the New York Newsday before going freelance in late 2007. For his photographic work he has traveled to countries as Pakistan, Nepal, Cuba, Lebanon and El Salvador to name a few. In his extensive portfolio we find stories that cover the earthquake aftermath in Haiti, Afghan boys who enter Europe fleeing from poverty and violence in their home-country, problems with drug cartels in Peru, the conflict in Congo that has cost the lifes of millions as well as multiple stories in Iraq focusing on an intense drought, the war and the complexities of the conflict by looking at the three major cities. He also concentrated on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Mara Salvatrucha gang in El Salvador. He released the books Afghanistan: Broken Promise (2007) and This is War (2004) as well as providing the images for the book Howard Zinn: Just War. In 2010 he became a Magnum Photos nominee. The following images come from the series Rivers of Coca, Peru 2009, The Lost Boys of Afghanistan. Greece 2009 and La Vida por las Maras 2007.

Website: www.moisessaman.com