Tag Archives: Minnesota Center

Filter Photo Fesitival Week: Ursula Sokolowska

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


Born in Krakow, Poland, Ursula Sokolowska studied photography at Columbia College and compled her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I first saw her Constructed Family images a year ago at Filter and I was happy to see the continued progression of the series. Ursula will be exhibiting her work at the JDC Fine Art Gallery in San Diego, opening on December 7th, running through February 23rd, 2013. I am featuring work from two series, both incorporate projection, are deeply personal,  and both explore the idea of separation of the body from consciousness and objectification.


Her photographs can be found in many public and private collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Tanqueray. Selected exhibitions include The Travelling Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, Saatchi Gallery, Zoo Art Fair, the Royal Academy of Arts, London, United Kingdom, Minnesota Center for Photography, and Schneider Gallery, Chicago, IL. Her work has appeared in CameraArts magazine, Light & Lens: Photography in the Digital Age, and featured in the Chicago Tribune.


The Constructed Family series  examines the trauma and uncertainty carried from childhood. In particular, I am referencing my own upbringing as a Polish immigrant. There is an undercurrent of helplessness and misdirection linked to a sort of schizophrenic parenting, excommunication, and constant movement. Typically, the perception of children handed down by my elders was that children did not have a choice. Frequently, I heard a Polish equivalent of the phrase “Children should be seen not heard”. I am attempting to give these children voices.

These photographs are projection-based installations. 

The models are mannequins and their faces are projections. The faces of the children are slides that my father took of me when he was still involved in my life. The other slides are present day images that I have shot of my mom, my dad, and myself. My goal is to reconstruct my own childhood, empowering the past for better or for worse. The result is a troubling recreation of events that may seem disturbing but are far less in context to the real events that transpired. 

Untitled Series:The images presented pose several questions towards the societal view of gender as related to the biological roles that exist. By using the flower as the reference point, we see the inequality and the taint that is applied to a supposedly natural and beautiful inevitability. These human plant-life carry their own baggage that spews out of every orifice and drips moistly from their painted skin. Their reproduction is marred by the inner psychological turmoil as related to the divisions between sexual identity and biological reality, quite unlike their floral counterparts. 

The flower represents a self-sustaining sexual organism, one of which is free from divisions of sexuality and role yet forced by design biologically. When we admire what we see, staring at its naked form, we are free from imposing predisposed notions of sex and gender. Yet when we see human form, we cognitively associate our own psychological issues with role, gender and biological fulfillment subconsciously. With the flower there is no revolt against being more than what it was created to be. It exists to be seen and to reproduce year after year. It is perfectly content being an object to be admired on a singular level. 

The question remains why are we any different? By combining a seemingly natural and innocent vision of a flower and juxtaposing it with provocative cues, we explore the seemingly inevitable chain to biology that humans fight consistently. The fight to be more than just a sexual being content with reproducing itself and the psychological frustration that ensues. Each subject has his or her own issues with their design. These hopes and fears are explored by facing the possible truth that we may be nothing more than pretty flowers, waving their prospective parts in the open for all to see.

Jason Reblando, Looking Over Fence

Jason Reblando, Looking Over Fence

Jason Reblando

Looking Over Fence,
Chicago, 2008
From the Lathrop Homes series
Website – JasonReblando.com

Jason Reblando is a photographer and artist based in Chicago. He received his MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago and a BA in Sociology from Boston College. His photographs have been published in the New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Camera Austria, Nueva Luz, Bauwelt, and PDNedu. His work has been exhibited in the Singapore International Photo Festival, the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, the Houston Center for Photography, the Light Factory in Charlotte, the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, and the Minnesota Center for Photography. His work is collected in the Museum of Contemporary Photography's Midwest Photographers Project, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Thomas Jackson, Glow sticks #1

Thomas Jackson, Glow sticks #1

Thomas Jackson

Glow sticks #1,
67 Steps Beach, Greenport, New York, 2012
From the Emergent Behavior series
Website – ThomasJacksonPhotography.com

Thomas Jackson grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. After earning a B.A. in History at The College of Wooster, he spent much of his career in New York as an editor and book reviewer for magazines. It was his particular interest in photography books that led him to pick up a camera eight years ago, first shooting Garry Winogrand-style street scenes, then landscapes, and finally the staged work he does today. His work has been shown at Central Booking in DUMBO, Brooklyn, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Vamp and Tramp Booksellers, The Center for Books Arts and the Governors Island Art Fair. He lives in Brooklyn.

Thomas Jackson, Cups

Thomas Jackson, Cups

Thomas Jackson

Cups,
, 2012
From the Emergent Behavior series
Website – ThomasJacksonPhotography.com

Thomas Jackson grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. After earning a B.A. in History at The College of Wooster, he spent much of his career in New York as an editor and book reviewer for magazines. It was his particular interest in photography books that led him to pick up a camera eight years ago, first shooting Garry Winogrand-style street scenes, then landscapes, and finally the staged work he does today. His work has been shown at Central Booking in DUMBO, Brooklyn, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Vamp and Tramp Booksellers, The Center for Books Arts and the Governors Island Art Fair. He lives in Brooklyn.

Thomas Jackson

Sometimes there is a WOW factor when looking at photographs, and Thomas Jackson’s work has it in spades.

Thomas grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and probably absorbed a lot of Rhode Island School of Design cells in his baby formula which resulted in creative genes. He did, however, earn his BA in History from The College at Wooster and began a career in NYC as an editor and book reviewer for magazine. After reviewing stacks of photography books, he was inspired to pick up a camera and create his own work. He has exhibited at Central Booking in DUMBO, Brooklyn, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and a variety of other venues. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

I am featuring two bodies of work, Emergent Behavior and The Robot Series. Thomas produced a wondrous handmade book with hinges and port holes for The Robot Series–it’s worth a look on his site.

The Robot Book

EMERGENT BEHAVIOR: The hovering sculptures featured in this ongoing series of photographs are inspired by self-organizing, “emergent” systems in nature such as termite mounds, swarming locusts, schooling fish and flocking birds. The images attempt to tap into the fear and fascination that those phenomena tend to evoke, while creating an uneasy interplay between the natural and the manufactured and the real and the imaginary. At the same time, each image is an experiment in juxtaposition. By constructing the pieces from unexpected materials and placing them in environments where they seem least to belong, I aim to tweak the margins of our visual vocabulary, and to invite fresh interpretations of everyday things.

THE ROBOT SERIES: In this series of photographs, I’ve combined elements of science fiction literature and film with storytelling motifs from Medieval tapestries and altarpieces to create a darkly humorous narrative about a lone robot’s failure to co-exist with the natural world. Against that backdrop, the work explores the uneasy, opposing emotions Mother Nature provokes in us: fear and fascination, reverence and contempt, attraction, revulsion, greed, guilt and the queasy feeling that in the end, she will get us back for everything we’ve done wrong. I chose to build the series around a robot because he seemed an apt representation of our otherness within the natural world, and a stand-in for our ceaseless desire to force our environment into permanent submission—no matter how doomed the effort might be.

Erika Ritzel

Much of the work that Minneapolis photographer, Erika Ritzel, creates is about what we leave behind, in particular, in our homes and in our classrooms. Her images evoke a nostalgia for what once was, but at the same time, captures personal and public tableaus that are transitory and fleeting. It seems appropriate, in a time of uncertainly and flux, that we hold on the the past, even if for just a few seconds.

Erika grew up in Carbondale, Illinois and now lives in Minneapolis after receiving her BFA from Webster University in St. Louis and her MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2002, she received a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council to complete a project on the flood of 1993, which destroyed her father’s hometown. In 2008, she received a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to continue her study of estate sales and auctions. In 2009 she was selected for the 2nd round of the McKnight Fellowship of Photographers. Her work has been exhibited at the Palm Springs Art Museum in California, the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul, the Minnesota Center for Photography, and with the Coalition of Photographic Arts in Wisconsin.

Erika currently works as a freelance designer for Robert George Studio in St. Louis, MO and is adjunct photography faculty in Minneapolis at Century College, Inver Hills Community College, and Brown College.

I began this body of work, SOLD, to investigate estate sales, auctions, and the antiquarian objects being sold during the events. I was interested in the new relationships created by the arrangement and display of the objects within the sale. The photographs reveal some details about the previous owners, yet are very mysterious, making their identity even more intriguing. The interior space of the locations is transformed during the sales; rooms are closed off, tags are put on every item, and objects are arranged and collected with their original context unknown. My intent is to reflect the intimate place of the home through the abstracted details of lighting, textures, and patterns contained within the space.

I originally began investigating estate sales and auctions because they remind me of my family. My parents sell antiques and my father attends auctions every week and collects a variety of tools from Winchester and Simmons Hardware companies. He developed his love for tools because his father was a carpenter. I believe it is important to look at objects from the past to remind us of where we came from and the people we have lost.