Tag Archives: Massachusetts College Of Art

Filter Photo Festival: Jessica Tampas

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


Born in Vermont, Jessica Tampas creates engaging work, mined from time with family and with possessions that define play. I met her last year, at the Filter Festival Portfolio walk and this year was so glad to discover her new work and get to revisit the older projects. I am featuring two series, Dolls and Michigan. Jessica earned a BFA from Simmons College in Boston and an MFA in Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art. After teaching photography in Holland for Emerson College, she relocated to Chicago where she works as a family, candid, and fine art photographer.

Dolls 

People often want to know
the history behind these dolls. Who were their previous owners? How did they
come to look the way they do? Do I collect them, alter them? My approach to
creating this series is far more subjective. I never set out to become a
collector, per se (though by now I’ve amassed more than 100 early- and
mid-century dolls), and I don’t alter them in any way. Frankly, I’m not so concerned
with these dolls’ history, even if I play an important role in it, giving them
a longevity they probably never expected to have. For me these little beings
are simply heartbreaking creatures, typologies of survival and loss, and, I
suppose, ultimately, psychological portraits of something inside myself that I
might not otherwise be able to express as an adult. We have all weathered
emotional traumas in the transition from childhood to now. By not altering the
dolls, I let their faces tell their own story — one that I feel is ultimately
about what it means to be both fragile and a survivor, and…human. 
A year ago when I began this project, I purchased a number of dolls made between 1902 and 1950, mass-produced, life size (20″ long), made of ‘composite,’ a material that pre-dates plastic. Some had human hair, others synthetic; some had detailed features like painted on eyelashes, teeth, tongues — others not. Many had limbs missing and stained clothing; one was even repaired with slathered cement. Living, as we do, in a Society saturated with images of perfect youth, these babies seemed to want to offer me an object lesson in honest aging. 

Michigan 
I have
been taking photographs since I was 14 years old.  My favorite subjects were my immediate family.  I went on to get an MFA in 1987 and
then spent the next 20 years as a portrait and wedding photographer.  The birth of my son in 2006 was a major
turning point in my life and my career. 
Instead of documenting other people’s lives, I began to focus on my son
and his world, inspired by the work of both Diane Arbus and Sally Mann.  I am grateful that, once again, I can
create images that are meaningful and personal, yet hopefully universal. 

Mary Beth Meehan, Suzanne & Eli

Mary Beth Meehan, Suzanne & Eli

Mary Beth Meehan

Suzanne & Eli,
Brockton, Massachusetts, 2010
From the City of Champions: A Portrait of Brockton, Massachusetts series
Website – MaryBethMeehan.com

Mary Beth Meehan is a Providence-based photographer whose work explores issues of identity, culture, and community. Her current series, City of Champions, looks at the changing post-industrial U.S. through the eyes of her hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts. The series is featured in the current issue of 6Mois Magazine and will be exhibited at the Griffin Museum of Photography in January, 2013. With support from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, twelve photographs from the project were printed as 14-foot banners and mounted on buildings in Brockton’s distressed downtown core, sparking community-wide conversations about evolving urban identities, community dislocation, and the possibilities for social change. Her work has been published in 6Mois, LeMonde, DoubleTake, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Sunday Globe. Meehan teaches at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Matthew Swarts, Beth

Matthew Swarts, Beth

Matthew Swarts

Beth,
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, 2012
From the OPEN WATER series
Website – MatthewSwarts.com

Matthew Swarts’ work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Doubletake Magazine, Contact Sheet, Afterimage, Fotophile, In the Loupe, and other publications. He attended Princeton University and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and has taught photography at Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Ramapo College, The University of Connecticut, The University of Massachusetts, Boston, Middlesex College, and The Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He is the recipient of a J.William Fulbright Scholar Grant and the Ruttenberg Arts Foundation Award for the best new work nationally in photographic portraiture. His work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Library of Congress, The deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Princeton University, and Light Work, among others. He lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts.
 

Caleb Charland, Vinegar Battery

Caleb Charland, Vinegar Battery

Caleb Charland

Vinegar Battery,
, 2011
Website – CalebCharland.com

Growing up in rural Maine, Caleb Charland spent much of his childhood helping his father remodel their family home. These experiences instilled an awareness of the potential for the creative use of materials, and the ability to fabricate his visions. Charland earned a BFA in photography with departmental honors from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2004, an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a Trustees Fellow in 2010, and was a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2009. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is in the Collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Progressive Collection, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Charland currently lives in Maine and works at the Maine College of Art as an artist in residence.

Jess T. Dugan, Erica and Krista

Jess T. Dugan, Erica and Krista

Jess T. Dugan

Erica and Krista,
, 2012
From the Every Breath We Drew series
Website – JessDugan.com

Jess T. Dugan is a portrait photographer whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. She earned a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an ALM in Museum Studies from Harvard University. Jess’ photographs are regularly exhibited nationwide and are in the permanent collections of the Harvard Art Museum, The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. She is represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston, MA and the Schneider Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Summer Re Runs: Kevin Thrasher

I’m stepping away from Lenscratch this week to work on a new personal website and prepare for upcoming photo activities…wanted to reintroduce you to some wonderful photographers featured several years ago, today with Kevin Thrasher.

Kevin Thrasher’s images have a wonderful combination of unsettling charm. He has a knack of finding moments and locations that while normal and natural, also leave room for alternate interpretations. Born in Birmingham, Alabama and now living in Richmond, Virginia, Kevin received his BFA from East Tennessee State University and his MFA from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He had a long list of exhibitions in 2010 including the forthcoming Collectors Guide to Emerging Art Photography published by the Humble Arts Foundation in NYC.

Photography seemed like the only option that I wanted to pursue in school. I wish there were a more glamorous way to talk about the choices that led me to photography, but photography was the only thing that I ever thought I really wanted to do over a lifetime. Photography made sense. Making photographs is a way for me to go out into familiar or unfamiliar places and discover things. I like going out and getting lost in a new place and making pictures there. The world is an awfully interesting place and you can make work where ever you are.

His series, Common Ground, looks at how we interact with the natural world, and the series Brown’s Island is a work in with similar themes but focusing on a specific place.

There is no pristine landscape. There is only the land that we have. We got to nature or other more socially controlled spaces to enjoy ourselves. Recreation takes us from our own backyards, to other places where we can connect with nature or experience moments of leisure.

The photographs exist in between accepted ideas of landscape and these newer more controlled spaces. People are making the best of the spaces that they have access to. Many of the locales often sustain the idea of community where people are drawn together for mutual purpose. We have come to accept these interstitial spaces as our nature.

Images from Brown’s Island

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.

Matthew Swarts, Mary and Michael

Matthew Swarts, Mary and Michael

Matthew Swarts

Mary and Michael,
Somerville, Massachusetts, 2007
From the AMSTERDAM series
Website – MatthewSwarts.com

Matthew Swarts’ work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Doubletake Magazine, Contact Sheet, Afterimage, Fotophile, In the Loupe, and other publications. He attended Princeton University and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and has taught photography at Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Ramapo College, The University of Connecticut, The University of Massachusetts, Boston, Middlesex College, and The Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He is the recipient of a J.William Fulbright Scholar Grant and the Ruttenberg Arts Foundation Award for the best new work nationally in photographic portraiture. His work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Library of Congress, The deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Princeton University, and Light Work, among others. He lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts.