Tag Archives: Degree In Communication

SW Regional SPE: Brenda Biondo

Sharing photographers that I met at the SW Regional SPE Conference hosted by the Center of Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado….

When I met Brenda Biondo and spent time with her terrific project, Once Upon a Playground, I realized that it had so much potential–as a teaching tool, as a museum exhibition, and as a book. As a teaching tool, it was a great reflection of how a project forms, from a few photographs and ideas, growing into significant research of a subject adding additional layers of insight and thought. As Brenda states, she discovered that no institution is documenting objects of play, and her project may one day, be an important historical record.  Her museum options range from Children’s Museums, The Museum of Play, the Smithsonian, and a host of other options.  Finally, the book dummy that she shared in Colorado is a thorough and fascinating look at the history of playgrounds. Publishers, where are you?

Brenda received B.A. degree in communication arts from James Madison University in Virginia. After working in corporate communications in Manhattan and Washington, DC for a decade, she left the corporate world to focus on freelance writing. As a writer, she had her work published in The Washington Post, The Denver Post, The Christian Science Monitor, USA Weekend magazine and many other publications. In 2004, she decided to discontinue writing in order to concentrate on fine art photography. Her work has appeared in group and solo shows throughout the country, including exhibits at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO; the Hubbard Museum for the American West in Ruidoso Downs, NM; the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, CO; and the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. A native New Yorker, Brenda now lives in a small Colorado town at the base of Pikes Peak with her husband and two children.

Once Upon A Playground 

This was the first project I started after turning 40 and having my first kid. Even though I had been taking photographs for more than two decades, I had never pursued it seriously until then. As I was thinking about subjects I could shoot with a baby in tow, I began noticing that the local parks I visited with my young daughter hardly ever had the type of equipment I had grown up with. 

For the past nine years, I’ve worked on this project on and off, traveling around the country photographing whatever old playground equipment I can find in schoolyards and public parks. I see this series as a type of cultural archeology, because playgrounds have played such a prominent role in the lives of American children for generations. The classic metal and wood structures were a distinctive element of the American landscape for most of the 20th century and are part of the personal histories of most Americans over the age of 30. 
The towering metal slides, spine-jarring seesaws, colorful spinners and other classic equipment was gone from most playgrounds. As I started focusing on these childhood icons, I realized that the equipment designs often reflected the popular culture of the times, with geometric metal and wood apparatus of the early 1900s supplemented by pieces in the shape of cowboys and Indians, Wizard of Oz and Charlie Brown characters, rocket ships and satellites, motorcycles and geodesic domes during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. 

Unfortunately, it gets harder to find this equipment with each passing year. When schools and towns renovate their playgrounds, the old equipment is almost always hauled away to the scrap yard. As far as I can tell, no institution — hello, Smithsonian — is collecting and preserving this equipment. I can’t remember how I stumbled across the first playground catalog on eBay, but I began buying them whenever one came up for auction, not really sure what I would do with them but knowing they provided historical context for my photographs. 

After several years, I had nearly two dozen catalogs, published from 1920 through 1975, along with a growing pile of historical playground postcards. I’ve recently combined the historical documents with my photographs and created a book on Blurb to show to potential publishers. All the elements of the book are viewable on my website, www.onceuponaplayground.com.

SW Regional SPE: Vivian Keulards

Sharing photographers that I met at the SW Regional SPE Conference hosted by the Center of Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado….

Meeting Vivian Keulards in Colorado was a complete pleasure and her wonderful projects set the tone for a new friendship and fan club. It’s hard not to respond to an image like the one below, simply a portrait of a neighbor, but obviously there was more to the story from her series, 80439, Bloody Mary and Sloppy Joe

And then there was her adoration of redheads, in her series, Elusive Beauty…

Vivian was born and raised in the Netherlands and currently lives in Evergreen, Colorado. In 2009 she received a degree from the Photo Academy in Amsterdam and she gained a Master Degree in Communication Science at the KUN University (Nijmegen, Netherlands). She also participated in inspiring Master classes of Carl de Keyzer, Rob Hornstra and more.

Vivian was a Critical Mass finalist and she was selected for the NEW Dutch Photography Talent book (by the makers of the magazine GUP) this year. Her work is part of several public collections and the work has been exhibitied widely.  Six of her portraits from the series Elusive Beauty are currently on display at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans and her  project 80439, Bloody Mary and Sloppy Joe will open in January 2013 as a solo exhibition at CPAC in Denver.

Elusive Beauty 

They will likely be extinct in the next 100 years: red headed children. Only one percent of the human population carries this unique red head gene. 


 For years now those children take my breath away; the orange/red hair, their pale skin with clusters of freckles and their bright light eyes. At times they even seem to be translucent. When they look into my eyes I’m staggered. Sometimes I even feel intimidated. Their fragile and sensitive appearance is often accompanied by their very powerful and strong willed character. I experienced it myself and this surprising combination makes them even more exclusive to me.

I know by saying this all out loud, a lot of them feel offended. They don’t want to be examined as special, different or exotic. And they don’t want to be generalized, stereo-typed or even fetishized. They are a group with a history of bullying, discrimination and abuse, all because of their looks. So I understand their skepticism towards me.

In my photos I create scenery where their strong looks come to life and capture the moment where you can feel their power. I desperately want to show that red hair is admirable and desirable, instead of a reason to be treated differently.

80439, Bloody Mary and Sloppy Joe

In 2010, I moved from The Netherlands to Evergreen, Colorado, for three years. My new home environment is very different, confusing, and intriguing at the same time. Of course I grew up with watching American movies, shows, and videoclips. And of course, in real life up here, I sometimes recognize similar places and people from those fiction scenes. In truth it feels like I’m living in a constructed reality show – the fiction and the reality confuse me. More important, I fear my new life will fade like a dream when I go back home…that all this will be forgotten. 

Alfredo De Stéfano, Carpet Sahara

Alfredo De Stéfano, Carpet Sahara

Alfredo De Stéfano

Carpet Sahara,
Sahara Desert, Morocco , 2012
From the Mis Desiertos series
Website – ADeStefano.com

Alfredo De Stéfano was born in Monclova, Coahuila, a city in the northeastern Mexican desert and has a bachelor´s degree in Communication Sciences by the Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila. He is considered one of México´s most important contemporary photographers. He has a passion for the landscape and especially the desert, an environment to which has has traveled countless times, performing art interventions in it and photographing it. His photographic series include Of places without a future (1992), Remains of paradise (1996), Replenishing emptiness (2002) and Brief chronicle of Light (2005). Since 2008 he is working in his new series Storm of light: All the deserts are my desert, which take place in different deserts from the world. His work has been exhibited internationally and are included in public and private collections in México as well as abroad.