Tag Archives: School Of The Art Institute

Adam Neese, Christian and Friends, Old Heritage Road

Adam Neese, Christian and Friends, Old Heritage Road

Adam Neese

Christian and Friends, Old Heritage Road,
Grapevine, Texas, 2012
From the A Known World series
Website – AdamBNeese.com

Adam Neese was raised in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas. Along with photography, he also has experience as a migrant farmer, a land surveyor, and a photographer’s assistant. Adam’s projects examine his childhood history within the North Texas landscape, the intersection of geography and photography, and commodification of the land. He holds his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently, he is an MFA candidate at The University of North Texas, which he will receive in May of 2013.

Alyssa Miserendino: Our World Insideout

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

I am of the belief that some of our most profound work comes from things we know. This is certainly the case with Chicago photographer, Alyssa Miserendino.  Alyssa is working on a multi-layered, global project that started with circumstances in her own life–the abandonment of her father, and eventually the collapse and loss of the family home.  Her project, Our World Insideout, begins with familiar territory and moves to Brazil, New Orleans, and Chicago.  Alyssa is about to open an exhibition of this work on December 6th at the Bette Cerf Hill Gallery in Chicago (funding provided by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation).  The work will continue on to the Elmhurst Art Museum for an exhibition that runs from January 18th – mid April.
From a fellowship award from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, to an investigative journalism grant from the Driehaus Foundation, Alyssa continues to pursue personal bodies of work that assemble the ideas of home, memory & our relationships to one another emotionally. This work, in addition to her commercial work, has been widely exhibited and well published.

Our World Insideout
Our World Insideout was born from my young home life that was raw, violent & steeped in displacement and abandonment. The catalyst of this life-long project started with documenting my own abandoned home in 2004, from the inside. Then in 2009, during the economic crash, I found a relation to the familiar emotion of loss & I started documenting other’s homes. I created the imagery with the hope that this project will incite a visual, global dialog concerning the used & unused resources; thus inspiring change. It touches on the many levels of humanity & one of the most sacred places for us : home. Insideout is one word – there is no delineation between what happens behind closed doors & what is communicated to the outside world.

Images from the family home

Our World Insideout: Brazil (2010) 

I’ve been to properties with notices posted since 1998, walked though gates with layers
of cobwebs, & entered abandoned homes experiencing what is left behind – the day a
family & children were evicted, the day the owners ran out of funds to complete
construction, the day the owner died & the family neglected to clear the home of the
deceased’s belongings. I’ve captured images of a home 15 years forgotten & now
surrounded by mansions; held my breath in a house that is a historical site, splattered with
feces; & opened a never-ending sea of unlocked doors. However, I have also witnessed
what others have built with their own hands, resourced from other people’s garbage. I’ve
met people & listened to their stories about how they ended up taking over an abandoned
home; picked up a nomad with her fishing pole to visit her train station house & met a
woman who built her home around the base of a tree, from found objects. 

Our World Insideout: New Orleans

Our World Insideout: Chicago before & after (2012)

What you see here is Chicago from 2009 and Chicago from 2012.  Each Diptych has their own story, like each one of us.  Here is where another nature is being formed, and hopefully a dialogue for acknowledgements and change – a chance to grow in this world.


Insideout is one word–There is no delineation between what happens being closed doors, and what is communicated to the outside world.

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.

Gayle Stevens and Judy Sherrod: Nocturnes

Photo NOLA is about to gear up for an amazing week of all things photography, and one of those events is the exhibition, CURRENTS 2012: NOPA Members Showcase,  at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, featuring work by sixteen members of the New Orleans Photo Alliance:
Thom Bennett, J.T. Blatty, Lee Deigaard, Nell Dickerson, E2 (Elizabeth
Kleiveld & Eric Julien), Frank Hamrick, Christopher Harris, Vivian
Keulards, Eleanor Owen Kerr, Maria Levitsky, Colleen Mullins, Donna
Pinkley, Rylan Steele, and S. Gayle Stevens/Judy Sherrod.

Today, I am sharing the work of two of those sixteen,  S. Gayle Stevens and Judy SherrodJudy is the box-making partner in the Nocturnes project. She  designs and makes all the cameras used in her collaboration with Gayle, ranging from two and one-half inches square to forty by forty inches. She drives from  Wichita Falls,Texas to wherever making photographs and schlepping equipment and chemicals with her constant companion, a very funny dog named B. 

The cameras in action….

Gayle Stevens has worked in antiquarian photographic processes for over fifteen years. Her chosen medium is wet plate collodion and she exhibits extensively across the United States, in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Gayle received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was the artist in residence at the Serenbe Institute in Georgia in August 2012. Named one of the Critical Mass Top Fifty Photographers for 2010, and a finalist in 2011 and 2012, her work has been featured in numerous publications and held in significant collections. Northlight Press is publishing a book of Stevens’ work in their 11 + 1 Signature series in 2012. Christopher James will feature her work in the third edition of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. She is also a member of the When Pigs Fly photo collective and divides her time shooting in Pass Christian, Mississippi and Downers Grove, Illinois, where she resides. 


Nocturnes 
Nocturnes 8



Our Nocturnes series began as an experiment, an adventure, a collaboration. A pinhole camera-maker and a wet-plate collodion artist collaborated to produce mammoth plate tintypes, echoing the work and process of the early survey photographers. Carleton Watkins, William Henry Jackson, and Timothy O’Sullivan, surveying the expansive landscape of the western US, found themselves at the mercy of nature. James McNeill Whistler, inspired by the visual melody he found in dark skies and seas, titled many of his paintings nocturnes. In turn, these paintings provided inspiration for the orchestral nocturnes written by Debussy, musical impressions which ebb and flow.

 Nocturnes 9



Inspired by these artists and the waters of the gulf in Pass Christian Mississippi we too found ourselves at the mercy of the tides, our images determined by the capriciousness of the water before us.
Because of its infinite depth of field, the pinhole camera conveys the vast expanse of the sea while the collodion-silver emulsion flows across the plate like the waves across the sand.
The plates delivered an unexpected serendipity –a daytime nighttime, a sunny moonscape. There is ebb and flow between night and day, dark and light, as silent sentinels watch waves writing verse in the sand. This push and pull of tides, this melody of the waves, this lyric creates a visual dialogue that is the inspiration for Nocturnes, a little night music.
 –Judy Sherrod and S. Gayle Stevens

Nocturnes 1
Nocturnes 16

Nocturnes 17

Nocturnes 18
Nocturnes 19

Nocturnes 2

Nocturnes 3

Nocturnes 4

Nocturnes 6

Nocturnes 7

Matt Austin

Chicago photographer/artist, Matt Austin, has created a body of work, WAKE, that is a narrative about tragic moments in his family’s life.  This project is about to become part of an experiment in the sharing of work.
Matt received the Illinois Artist Council Grant to produce an edition of 10 of the WAKE books. Each copy of WAKE is made up of a handmade clamshell box that houses four hardcover books and a ledger. On October 27, the edition will be distributed to ten people familiar to Matt, but don’t personally know one other. Their responsibility will be to read the book, sign the ledger like a library card, and register their book number location by zip code on a corresponding website.The reader will then decide who receives their copy of the book next, pass it on to the next person, and so on. The website will provide a visual for where each of the 10 books are in the world as well as a waiting list platform for requesting a book to be sent to you.

Matt received his BFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago  and is teaching for the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Matt is the co-founder of the open digital lab LATITUDE (be sure to explore this amazing site), staff member of ACRE Artist Residency, co-founder of the art installation project known as TAIST, and a member of the pedagogical experiment The Mountain was a Gift. His photographs have been exhibited widely, including exhibitions at the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Catherine Edelman Gallery, NEXT: Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art, the MDW Art Fair, including solo exhibitions at Johalla Projects and the University of Notre Dame. Soon, he will be re-releasing the second edition of “/” with EJ Hill for their two-person exhibition SLOW DANCE at RAID Projects in L.A. this November.

WAKE is currently on exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI in the show The Kids Are All Right.  The exhibition runs through January where it will then travel to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC and the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA throughout 2013.

WAKE is a photographic and literary narrative that presents my account of several tragic moments regarding my family over the past 4 years. The story begins with e-mails between my dad and I exchanged over the days that followed a violent eviction from his apartment and my simultaneous arrival in Ireland to study abroad. 

In the following chapters, WAKE gives an account of three family deaths over a short few months, drawing comparisons between economic failure and physical mortality. While providing one of many stories of a family’s experience with economic devastation, the book poses an optimistic perspective of learned appreciation through difficulty.

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.

Review Santa Fe: Aspen Mays

Over the past month, I shared the work of photographers who attended Review Santa Fe in June.  Review Santa Fe is the only juried review in the United States and invites 100 photographers to Santa Fe for a long weekend of reviews, insights, and connections.  

Aspen Mays is creating new spaces in photography by “making sense over the specifics of knowing, mimicking the capacity of Science to call into question above it’s capacity to provide answers.” Much of her work is based on observation, research, documentation, and concept, but the photographs also are delicate and intriguing as objects.

Aspen grew up in Charleston, South Carolina,  holds a BA in Anthropology and Spanish from The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and graduated with an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2006, she was awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship for study in Cape Town, South Africa. More recently, honors include a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Chile, Santiago.  She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Sun Ruins:

Just days before one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded devastated central Chile in 2010,
I arrived in Santiago to begin a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Chile’s Astronomical
Observatory. I used an abandoned darkroom at the Observatory for my studio, and it was
against this backdrop of destruction that Sun Ruins was conceived. During my residency, I had
access to rejected prints, negatives and ephemera from the lab’s archive, and Sun Ruins brings
together two series that I created from this material. Both components call into question the
expectation of photography as a documentary and categorical medium and each explore—to
different ends—the visualization of knowledge in both studio art and observational practices. 

To create the series Punched out stars, I used a hole punch to physically remove each prominently-visible star from twelve found silver gelatin prints of unknown dates (and various dimensions ranging from 15.5” x 11.75” to 4.25” x 6.5”). The photographs are thus rendered non-informational, and the circular hole-punched shapes become the index for the missing celestial objects. The photographs are literally made fragile from this intervention, as new and unforeseen constellations are revealed from folds on the paperʼs surface. Metaphorically, the very notion of classification as a human endeavor is likewise destabilized. In some prints, the night sky is reversed (seen as white), a typical printing method employed by astronomers in order to view individual stars as black and therefore more discretely measurable points. 

The Sun 1957 is the collective title of 25 silver gelatin prints that depict the Sun from a mid-century international survey of sunspots. Finding the film negatives separated from contextualizing logbooks and labeled only by month and the year 1957, I loosely followed this organizing principle by making contact prints of the negatives in grids. The prints were all made onsite using vintage paper (11.5” x 15.5”) that I found in the darkroom, and the unpredictability of the expired paper resulted in splotches and artifacts on the print surface that call to mind the sunspots themselves. The prints are assembled chronologically by month into a larger grid to formally suggest the shape and structure of a calendar. The internal logic of such a calendar creates an encompassing yet mysterious picture of the Sun for that year. Some months are represented by numerous negatives (and therefore prints) while other months are recorded by far fewer images. There is no record of November. 

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.