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NAKED JUDGING: The 2012 Canteen Awards in Photography

Due date for this contest is December 30th!!

Canteen Magazine publisher, Stephen Pierson, contacted me recently about a ground breaking idea for a photography contest, NAKED JUDGING: The 2012 Canteen Awards in Photography.  Canteen is a highly respected magazine and Stephen has given this idea a lot of thought–the idea is to have a completely transparent contest, where judging is live, so that participants can experience the behind the scenes drama of how things are selected. All submissions will have some kinds of critique, and there will be a clear presentation of how all submission monies are spent.  I will be partnering with Canteen to provide the on-line exposure for the winners. This indeed, is a contest unlike any other…

Naked Judging: The 2012
Canteen Awards in Photography
Canteen magazine is holding our second photography contest
because of our general disdain for photography contests. They tend to be opaque
affairs that stifle dialogue—the winners are chosen, no one quite knows why,
and 99% of the participants are left without their entrance fee or an
explanation. The real winners are the organizations1 
that run and profit exorbitantly from them.

We are trying to do
something different. Namely, treat our participants as partners. We aim to be
fully transparent about the entire selection process, placing the judges’
criteria, biases, and disagreements on full, naked display. The result, we
hope, will be an honest and provocative conversation about photography.

To these ends, Naked
Judging: The 2012 Canteen Awards in Photography offers several novel features:
      
A live finale: The final
round of judging, featuring the top 25 submissions, will occur in front of a
live audience, and will be simultaneously streamed online. Prior to the winners
being selected, audience members (both in-person and online) can probe the
judges with questions.

      Every submission openly
critiqued:
Similar to our first photo contest, brief notes/critiques
from all judging rounds will be available on our website for every submission.
      
Longer-form critiques:
The winning submission and other select submissions will be the subject of
longer-form discussions and essays in the next print issue of Canteen magazine,
and through this contest’s official partner, Lenscratch.
In addition, select participants will be given the opportunity to publicly
respond to the judges’ comments.

     
Nonprofit model: We are
not only providing a low entry fee ($20 for 5 to 8 images, and $15 for
students), but we will document on our website how every dollar is spent. At
the contest’s conclusion, any profits will be refunded back to the entrants.

We hope not only that our
contest will produce a provocative dialogue about photography, but also that it
will nudge other organizations into adopting practices that are friendlier to
the community of photographers that they purport to represent.

For
questions and feedback email Stephen Pierson, Canteen’s Director.



Grant Gill interviews Sarah Moore

Introducing editorial assistant Grant Gil as he shares a recent interview he conducted with Sarah Moore….

For the past few months I have been very grateful not only for being able to help out with LENSCRATCH but also getting to know Aline as a colleague and friend.  This spring, I will be finishing my last semester at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design with a focus on photography.  This opportunity has been a great educational tool in submersing myself in the variety of different works posted everyday, and also has let me view the art making world from a different perspective.
I was first introduced to Sarah Moore’s work after she had been featured in Fraction Magazine, and since then we have constantly crossed paths without actually formally meeting.  I then begun following her journey across country, from Philadelphia to Santa Fe, able to watch her work change and adapt based on location. I find myself transfixed on her beautiful landscapes that make me yearn for travel, but even more so I am fascinated with her raw interactions with nature that translate emotional isolation and loneliness.  Because of her young age, emerging status, and her stamina to continuously work I am constantly inspired to do more, work harder.  Today I am showing images from two of her series: expanse and Scape.

Sarah Moore was born and raised in South Dakota, where she still finds much of her inspiration for her work. She received her BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009 and has since lived and traveled throughout the country. Much of Sarah’s work deals with the ideas of loneliness, escaping, and the ways landscapes inform and shape us. Her work has been shown throughout the country and online. She is currently living and working in Santa Fe, NM, where she is trying to understand the harsh light and delve into the book-making world.

expanse:
Throughout the years I have become increasingly interested in my home of South Dakota and how the people and place shaped me and continue to influence me. Even though I appreciate many aspects of the Midwest and still long for its landscape, it represents the pinnacle of loneliness in my life.

My photography is a depiction of this loneliness. The landscapes of the Midwest are beautiful but empty, simple but overwhelming. My relationship to my home is based on love, but also thwarted by distance. Since moving from South Dakota, I continue to find solace but also conflict in the land around me. I now see many moments in my life as a way to document or construct a personal narrative of isolation, both representative of my past and indicative of my present.

Expanses can be comforting but also stifling. Distances can fuel love but also misunderstanding. The vast space of the land is something I can’t quite embrace, break free from, or understand, but it provides infinite inspiration for me.

What is you personal statement as
an artist, or how exactly would you describe the work you make?
Most of my work comes from a very personal and emotional
place.  I photograph mostly
landscapes and self-portraits.  I
started doing both in 2007, when I went back home to South Dakota to
shoot.  Focusing on landscapes has
always allowed me to break free from the personal connections I have with
people.  Still though, I love
portraiture and what a person can show in a photograph, so self-portraiture is
a way for me to still use a person in my photography, while still keeping the
work mainly about me.
Is this personal place derived from
a specific event, or just a general emotional state?
It’s a little of both. 
My parents divorced when I was four because my dad is gay.  This is something I’ve more than come
to terms with now, but it was tough to deal with while growing up in the
conservative Midwest.  I think the
divorce and the subsequent silence my family kept about it instilled a sense of
“me versus the world.”  I grew up thinking it was best to keep quiet about big issues,
especially emotional ones.  Then I
eventually thought it was just best to keep quiet in general.  So I spent my years in South Dakota
sort of closing myself off from everyone, not knowing how or if I should share
the important parts of myself.
After leaving South Dakota, I learned that even if I have
some trust issues and some issues with the way my problems were handled, I can
still try to share a part of myself through my photography.  If loneliness was going to be such a
big part of my life then I wanted to at least make it part of my work.
I read so much visual poetry in to
your work, from the breath taking sights to the self-portraits that begin to
blend in with the surroundings.  I
see this action of back and forth between the photographs and the
photographer.  I wonder why you
choose to turn the camera inwards?
Photographing myself started about six years ago, when I
first went back to South Dakota.  I
wanted to put a person in the overwhelming landscape, and I was the most
accessible.  Throughout the years,
I’ve learned that one of the best ways to portray what a landscape and a moment
mean to me is to photograph myself. 
I think my self-portraiture is definitely part
narcissism.  But then again, isn’t
most photography rather narcissistic? 
As photographers, we capture what or whom we want to be seen and how we
want them seen.  It can be a very
selfish medium.  Yet by showing
others what or who we see, maybe we can also affect or help others. 
Another part of turning the camera towards myself deals with
my own issues of insecurity and loneliness.  I don’t like images of myself, and in real life, I’m not often
apt to open up to people.  I have
too many walls built up.  I guess
through photography I allow myself, my body, my face, and my emotions to take
center stage.  I get to act a
bit.  I get to be important.  And I hopefully get to communicate with
others through my images.
Do you have any specific
philosophies when it comes to humans and their interactions with nature?  What books, or even other work, do you look
to when making the images you do?
I’m still trying to figure out what and how I feel about the
human interaction with nature.  I
know my own relationship to nature is pretty complicated.  Though I grew up in a rural place, with
large expanses of land all around me, I still never felt really in tune with
nature.  And after living in cities
for seven years, I felt even more detached from nature.  Yet, I long for the land.  I think many people do.  I think there’s something in us that
wants to be closer to nature, but we’re not sure how to do that in this
increasingly electronic and cement culture.
People go camping or gazing at national parks, feeling for a
moment that they’re immersed in their primitive roots.  That’s about as close to nature as many
live.  People like to be able to
feel close to the land while at the same time in control of it.  I’m the same way, I admit.  I bring my camera to the land with me,
perhaps trying to harness my own little bit of control over the wild vastness.
Years ago, when I was starting my photography project in
South Dakota, I looked a lot at Todd Hido and Larry Sultan’s work.  I read a lot of theories about
photography and families at that time too.  For the past few years, I’ve been reading way too much David
Foster Wallace.  His work doesn’t
deal with nature explicitly, but it does talk about human society and our
alienation from each other, the landscape, and ourselves.  I think I’m more interested in reading
about the human psyche and weird outbursts in society than I am about humans
versus nature. 
Do you ever feel you are having a
visual conversation with other landscape and travel photographers, both
historically and in the contemporary?
It’s hard not to feel that way, honestly.  There are a lot of landscape and travel
photographers out there.  Sometimes
I’m constantly comparing my work to others’, but I try to maintain my own
vision and keep a peace with myself. 
I get overwhelmed really easily and intimidated even more easily.  It’s definitely important to be aware
of your peers, both contemporary and historically, but it’s also important to
forge ahead on your own.  I think
part of the reason I was in a rut while living in Philly was that I was just
too scared to make images.  I
thought everyone saw better places, had better ideas, and executed their ideas
better.  So I just stopped
creating. Obviously that’s not a good answer, so now I try to keep in tune with
other work (especially landscape and self-portraiture), but I also just try to
create for myself.
There is a lot of reference to time
passing and travel within all of your work.  In Scape there is this feeling that nothing is
constant, like you are drifting from place to place.
I’ve never been good at photographing in my own backyard, so
to speak.  For one reason or
another, escaping has become increasingly important or my photography.  That has meant escaping back to where I
grew up, escaping all over the country, and escaping to large city parks outside
of the city.
My first large travel experience, photographically, was in
the fall of 2011, when I made my work in Scape.  I mostly went on that trip because it had been about two
years since I really photographed. Living in Philadelphia after college put me
in some sort of photographic and emotional rut, so the only way I thought to
get out of it was to travel and see again.  That trip was literally about escaping and reinventing.
I love traveling and seeing new places, especially
landscapes.  That will probably
never go away in me.  Yet, I also
really need to travel to be alone sometimes.  As I’ve mentioned, loneliness (or my illusion of it) is
partially ingrained in me, and I’ve found that traveling to different
landscapes helps me cope with my loneliness. 
I am aware that you just moved out
to Santa Fe, NM.  It seems like you
have lived in some very different places in America’s geography.  Does shifting
home this much affect your work?
Yes, it definitely does.  Each place I’ve lived has a different geography and
different social climate.  Even
though I’m not great at photographing where I live, I’m trying to get better at
that.  When I lived in Ohio, I had
a realization that I was going to be in this strange place for about a year, so
I had to make the most of it with my photography.  That’s when I started photographing the large parks in and
around Columbus.  I tried in some
way to make the Ohio land a part of me.
I’m still trying to grasp the New Mexico landscape and how
this is home for me now.  It seems
that once I get used to a place, especially geographically, I move.  It takes time for me to acclimate to a
landscape, and the New Mexico one is especially difficult.  I’m not used to intense sun or
mountains, not to mention adobe architecture and small pueblos.  It’s more of a “wild” land
than most places I’ve lived, which is hard for me to grasp photographically,
strangely enough.
Overall, shifting my homes helps reopen my eyes to the
constants and changes in my art and myself.  I’m starting to learn which terrains I appreciate and which
light I want to follow.  I also
really enjoy the challenge of trying to make a place my own, especially through
my photography.
Why exactly do you think it is so
hard photographing your direct surroundings?  Does the familiar become too mundane?
I think in some ways, I feel too close to my immediate
surroundings.  It’s not that I find
the familiar mundane–in fact, I’m constantly inspired by what I see.  I actually tend to post photos on Instagram
of every mundane moment I have or see. 
Yet, when it comes to my other photography–the work I think about more
and use my “real” cameras for–I always seem to need to go away to
make that work.
I try to delve into some part of my emotional past and
present when photographing portraits and landscapes.  And I think in order for me to do that, at least right now,
I need to go outside of my comfort zone, outside of my immediate space.  Unfamiliar landscapes–even if they’re
within mere miles of where I work, eat, and sleep–help me disconnect from my
everyday life and find a part of myself that I want to explore more.
Nothing is really mundane to me.  I just find different types of inspiration in different
places.
Because nature is quite vast, and
easily accessible, are there specific images that you strive for, that you go
out to shoot, or is there spontaneity to your photographs?
When photographing in South Dakota, I usually have specific
shots that I strive for.  I know
that landscape pretty well, and I know that it’s largely the same view
everywhere you look.  So I know
that I need to look for a certain type of field or certain color palette when
I’m there.  I try to use the
repetition of that landscape to my advantage, which sometimes takes a lot of
pre-visualization and some sketches.
When I’m traveling to different landscapes in shorter
periods of time, I tend to shoot more and shoot very spontaneously.  Unfamiliar landscapes force me to be
more spontaneous, and spontaneity forces me to try more things and make more
images.
I like both methods of shooting, if they’re methods at
all.  I love the slowness of my
South Dakota photography, and how it allows me to think about that one specific
landscape over the years.  Of
course, I also love seeing a wide variety of terrains within a short period of
time. The diversity of the land allows me to think about how to connect all
those terrains into my life.
You deal with many over arching
themes, so how do you declare a body of work finished?  Does it necessarily finish when you
move, such as when you left Ohio, or is there potential for it to continue?
I think there’s always some potential for most of my
projects to continue, especially my work in South Dakota.  I’d love to continue to photograph in
Ohio as well, and since my dad lives there, that will probably happen in the
future.  On some level, I do
declare a body of work finished once I move, since it’s easy to wrap up
projects at that point.  Yet, since
I go back to both South Dakota and Ohio so often, I’d like to keep both of
those projects open for a while.
My work in Scape is definitely finished though; at least I’m
finished making the images.  That
project, though I didn’t know it at the time, was about a specific journey at a
specific time in my life.  It
chronicles a road trip around the country during a time when I needed it
most.  Though I definitely plan on
going on more road trips in the future, they won’t fit into what Scape became, because
I’m not in the same personal space as I was then.
I also see many of my separate projects as part of a general
whole body of work.  All of my
photography deals with escapism, alienation, self-searching, and the land.  I don’t see an “end” to that whole
project anytime soon.  So for now,
everything is sort of left open.

Scape
These photographs document a journey through America. They are images of wonder and excitement,pain and loneliness, and my personal ideas of self. Additionally, they are portraits of America’s land.

I often can’t relate to America as it’s depicted through the media’s eyes. I find it difficult live up to cultural standards and societal expectations. I have trouble getting close to those closest to me. Yet, when I see America—the America of such diverse, beautiful, and nuanced terrain—I find that even if I can’t understand what America has become, what people around me have become, or what I’ve become, I can feel comfort in the landscapes.

This collection is vast. Not every photo is perfect. Immense meaning won’t be found at every turn. Rather, the photos are a way for me to both explore and escape where I live and who I am.
































Stephen Strom

Stephen Strom has a retrospective exhibition at the Verve Gallery in Santa Fe, closing January 19th, but he is is not slowing down by any means.  Stephen has a new book, Sand Mirrors that is “a marriage of poetry by Zen teacher Richard Clarke and photographs by Stephen Strom.”

Stephen spent his professional career as an astronomer and began photographing in 1978.  His work, largely interpretations of landscapes, has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and is held in several permanent collections. His photography complements poems and essays in three books published by the University of Arizona Press: Secrets from the Center of the World, a collaboration with Muscogee poet Joy Harjo; Sonoita Plain: Views of a Southwestern Grassland, a collaboration with ecologists Jane and Carl Bock; Tseyi (Deep in the Rock): Reflections on Canyon de Chelly co-authored with Navajo poet Laura Tohe; as well in : Otero Mesa: America’s Wildest Grassland, with Gregory McNamee and Stephen Capra, University of New Mexico Press (2008). A monograph comprising 43 images, Earth Forms, was published in 2009 by Dewi Lewis Publishing.

Sand Mirrors
The images in
Sand Mirrors — which might be called metaphorical photographs — were taken on a
variety of beaches located along 
the Northern
California and Oregon coasts during 2007-2011.
These beaches are
notable for their relative isolation, expanse, 
stark uplifted
and eroded rocks. backdrop of richly foliated coastal 
cliffs, and
variety of sands (basalts; silicates).

This compelling
landscape was born in a cataclysmic collision 
of continental
plates and vigorous vulcanism, and shaped over 
millennia by
continuing tectonic activity, and the erosive power 
of the Pacific
Ocean. Fresh water streams flow through many of 
these beaches,
carrying silt and minerals seaward from the nearby 
coastal range. It
is the merging of ocean sands and finely ground 
minerals at the
interface of fresh water and ocean tides that creates 
patterns that are
at once transient, yet somehow timeless as well.

By recording
these patterns, Stephen Strom aspires to achieve the nearly possible: evoking
the seen and unseen rhythms of an ever-changing landscape, reshaped by wind,
tide, and the pulse of the earth itself.

The images invite
viewers to “quiet wonder at these few inches of sand that proclaim perfection’
and to remind them in the words of Lao Tzu “to the mind that is still, the
whole universe surrenders.”
 not wings of butterfly nor of bird

primordial
crafting on the shifting sands
of shadows of
forms to come
blue
among the
wandering lines
of mind that
tries to contain
or explicate
than leave it
as it is
in awe and
quiet wonder
at these few
inches
that proclaim
perfection
on this beach
for us to
stop
to stop and
see

 so neatly pieced together

with bold
dynamism
as we would
like our life to be —
smooth,
impervious and impeccable
a joy to
behold and to show to others
but what
really is
this fabric,
this tissue of self?
could it be
that it is
as mutable and
ungraspable and transient
as water and
sand?

 we keep seeking out and coming back

with faith —
the proof of things unseen,
that certainty
which, though yet unknown,
draws us on;
the sandy
surface an analog of simple silence
which all
those who directly know the Path
cultivate
as the place
of opening —
so here it
seems a tear in that surface,
yet what is
revealed beneath
is of one
substance with that which seems torn:
tantalizingly
blue feathery hints
that all our
seeking may only hide from us
what only
silencing will give some chance
at revelation
that
knowing is
intimacy

 are these building blocks for a nascent future

or shards from
the last great kalpa
our future is
our past and our past our future
or so it has
been said
converging
onto this point without dimension
that is now
we cannot but
look
and reflect
upon what affinity
what resonance
what aesthetic
compels us to
stop
and not walk
by

 needle and thread invented before the world needed them

no fabric but
sand and water
but sand and
water accommodates to the thread
like an oxbow
river
things that
otherwise might seem bizarre together
come out fine
on an Oregon beach
wear one
sandal and no other clothing
play a flute
you can hardly hear above the ocean surf
sand and water
blend it all into the one organism that it is
a real world
bigger than our rules


sea-crafted jewels emerge
from sand’s
soft silky fabric
with no one
and nothing to adorn
intrusions
into the stark innocence
of a
sufficient world that never asked for them
whose hidden
reaches lie modestly above and beyond
unwanted
treasures —
begs us to ask
what or who confers value on jewels?
or deems them
treasure?
and why would
naked beauty
wish further
adornment?

our lady stands before us
bedecked in
fishes scales
snakeskin and
Irish lace
her
translucent robe
hangs loose
upon her wondrous body
she rises from
the ocean in tidal time
gives us
demonstrations of skills
designs
of symmetries
we had not even hoped to see
we poor
landlocked creatures
that only
replicate and model
what she can
vision and create

it does seem that we might be viewing the sketchpad
of the
designer of many things
or doodles of
nothing at all
yet
everything in
this world comes from nothing at all
all
derives from
this generative exploration
a pencil
on a sketchpad
finding forms that appeal
that interact
what we are as
human beings
through all
the time we’ve ever known.
ocean holder
of all origins and memories
lays a record
down in sand
transient
between today and tomorrow
ideas
buildings empires of cities
and rooftops
streets and alleys
just this
where or what
or
sand-thoughts knowing not
what the next
wave might bring

an abstract artist or the imagined god create
from
Emptiness, the pregnant void
leave their
creations for a brief time in these compliant sands
until the next
cycle —
strong yet
gentle perfect curves
decisive
strokes
declaring what
mere words can never say —
their
magnetism holds us
to look and
maybe see
what silence
and the sounds of sand and sea
announce
ceaselessly —
if we but come
with patience
matching in
our timeless being
their
unhindered Source

in these few inches on the beach
vast river
basins being topographed
and in another
blink
are waving
strands of grasses
fossilized by
light
in flesh-soft
sand
until another
era washes over
by creator
wave

Honey Lazar: The Year My Sisters Died

I first met Ohio photographer, Honey Lazar when I curated a photograph of her knees into a self portrait exhibition at the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont.  She wrote to me and we began a correspondence and a friendship. Honey has a wide body of many wonderful projects, including her book, Loving Aunt Ruth, that celebrates a very wise woman. I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Honey in Chicago at the Filter Photo Festival and felt somewhat helpless as she shared that both of her sisters had passed away this year, creating such a profound sense of loss and devastation that she was struggling just to be in the world.  
As we all know, art is often a form of therapy, and Honey has created a series of images that describe what it feels like to be frozen in grief, not wanting to get out of the sanctuary of bed and finding solace from the television screen and the bedroom window.  These images, all shot from her bed, serve as Honey’s visual diary through loss, transition, and mourning.

The Year My Sisters
Died
I considered myself to be comfortable with the subject of
death and dying. I really “got” the termination thing.  My father died when I was 3, and my
grandparents were gone before I turned 10.  I worked in a hospital HIV unit in the 80’s.  I was seasoned. 
My father, a gifted and prolific photographer/film maker
left behind a legacy of photographs that kept him alive for me.  Photographs equaled immortality.  At 13, I picked up a Brownie Starflash
and snapped pictures of everything I wanted to keep forever.  The Starflash became a Polaroid, and I
used it to photograph everyone who came to my house.  I traded Polaroid for Kodachrome when my first son was born.
My bookshelves of albums are proof that during those years
no one left me.

 My middle sister, Jane, was diagnosed with rheumatoid
arthritis when I was 24, and she was 30. Jane and I were very close.  She lived in CT; I live in OH, but I visited often and called
daily.  I idolized her.  Before disease took her hair, teeth,
and mobility, people mistook her for Kim Novak or Marilyn Monroe.  She had pins put into her toes, so she
could wear shoes, but eventually, her toes curled, she stopped walking, and
shoes were simply decoration on a girl who never lost hope.  She ran her life from her bed
surrounded by windows.  She was an
artist who never stopped creating. 

I have another sister, Phyllis. …had another sister,
Phyllis.  She was 11 years older
than I, and I idolized her as well. 
She was super smart.  She
graduated from Pratt where she was snow queen and designed dresses for 25
years.  She taught me everything I
know about style and composition.

Phyllis moved to New York 5 years ago to live closer to her
daughters and granddaughters.  She
sold her house, packed her car, and faced an unknown housing situation with
gusto. I took a lot of pictures of her house being packed and the moving van
taking her away.  I’d be fine
without her, filling my sad places with her happiness and looking at photo
memories. 

On Phyllis’s 71st birthday she was diagnosed with
pancreatic cancer, 2 years after moving to New York. While Phyllis was being
treated, Jane was hospitalized 5 times with pneumonia, and we barely noticed.
Pneumonia didn’t seem serious in the face of pancreatic
cancer… except to Jane,
who felt exhausted, terrified, and alone.

Phyllis died in October, and in July, Jane was hospitalized
with pneumonia…for the last time.  I
was with both of my sisters when they died. It turns out I am not so good at
termination. 

Illness forced my beautiful
and active sisters into a horizontal life.  They were television watchers and HSN shoppers.  I find comfort and a connection to them
in this position, television on with my window worldview.  A horizontal life is a universal
experience.  Illness, depression,
and disability create lateral living, and I suspect each of us has either known
someone in this position or perhaps has been supine as well.

 I am in mourning with my camera right here next to me on the
bed.

Ewa Zebrowski: Finding Wyeth

Ewa Zebrowski‘s new book project takes a look at the quiet world of a master painter, revealing a sense of place, light, and New England sensibilities. Ewa’s wonderful limited edition artist’s book titled, Finding Wyeth, captures images of the Olson House located on the Cushing Peninsula in Maine, where for 30 years Andrew Wyeth created over 300 paintings, including his famous painting, Christina’s World.  The book comes in an edition of 20 and is available through Ewa: [email protected]


 I walked in, went upstairs, and suddenly I was startled.
There was another figure standing there.
It was me in a dusty mirror…
The reason I did it was that I wanted a portrait
of the dryness of the place,
that special sort of dryness of dead flies
that are left in a room that’s been closed for years.
                                                      Andrew Wyeth
                                           on painting The Revenant, 1949
The Olson House
 Andrew Wyeth spent a lot of
time 
some three  decades (1939-1968), at the Olson House (which belongs to the Farnsworth Art Museum)on the Cushing Peninsula in Maine, talking, sketching, painting, finding inspiration.


Alvaro and Christina Olson, the bother and sister who lived there, became his friends.  He used an upstairs room as his studio, where he painted over 300 paintings.  It was the view from a third story window that inspired his well known/iconic painting, Christina’s World.


I visited the empty house during the summer of 2010, a house filled with tangible emotion and light.  A house pregnant with stories and secrets.

       A bouquet of tangled wildflowers,
       tiny seashells in a bird’s
nest,
       empty glass canning jars,
peeling wallpaper
and silence,
the residue of so much emotion
in this old weathered wooden house
on a hill,
filled with light
and vanished dreams,
the black horse wandering lost,
the apples ripe on the ground.
                                                        
EMZ

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. 

Filter Photo Festival Week: Beth Gilbert

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

Beth A. Gilbert presented a body of work in Chicago, Scarred Land, that looks at civilization’s impact on the environment, especially after the affects of war. The project focuses on Israel and the scarred landscape that reflects the trauma of conflict.  Beth lives and works in Boston and earned a BA in art with a concentration in photography from Simmons College, Boston. She worked for a professional, full-service photo lab, Color Services in Needham, MA as Assistant Digital Technician for 5 years. Beth now works for herself providing digital photographic post-production services. In the fall of 2013, Beth will be attending the Rochester Institute of Technology to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree photography. Her work has been exhibited at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, the Danforth Museum of Art, and the Hadassah Gallery in Jerusalem. In addition, she has played a key role in the production of numerous photographic exhibitions for both nationally and internationally recognized artists.


 Restaurant Interior, Dead Sea, Israel 2010




My photographs are primarily landscape based, dealing with the environment, the ways in which human beings affect it and leave their mark upon it. One major influence reflected in the subject matter of my photographs is my interest and background in political science/middle eastern studies. My images have also been inspired by the work of Jem Southam, whose photographs capture a balance of the natural landscape and the intervention of man within it, following the cycles of decay and renewal, documenting the changes over days, months and years. Since the focus of my imagery relies heavily on society and civilization’s impact upon the environment, I am sensitive to my process being as non-invasive as possible- staying true to the unaltered landscape. I have a desire for my photographs to be ‘pure’, as in true to the original medium. My employment of a traditional tool of landscape photography, the 4×5 camera, and using minimal alterations to compliment my ideology fits in well with my artistic expression and vision. In 2010, I decided to take my ventures in photography further, and extended my vision to Israel.

 A Different Viewpoint, Gilbon, Israel 2010 

The photographs in this series entitled Scarred Land, which were all produced in Israel, deal with war, the damage it inflicts upon the terrain, and the natural recovery over time. The battle sites and military training zones depicted have not been memorialized or preserved in any way, and are now naturally recovering from the inflicted trauma as well as being reclaimed by the earth. The focus of the imagery on war zones is to portray to the viewer that this is how we, as human beings, treat each other and the world we live in.

 Charred Landscape, Gamla, Israel 2010 

We are a unique species defined by our intelligence: the ability of abstract thought, understanding, selfawareness, communication, reasoning, learning, having emotional knowledge, retaining, planning, and problem solving. This intelligence enables us to create/invent ever growing technologies through which to better our lives. Unfortunately, some of these technologies are also implemented for the purpose to assault one another and to defend ourselves, which in turn damages the Earth. In my opinion the rationale for going to war with another nation, state or people: whether it be over resources, religious ideology, cultural differences, or power is completely absurd. If everyone took the time to look at the larger picture, the traumas inflicted during war and in its aftermath have detrimental repercussions for not only us and future generations, but for the planet we inhabit and all of its living beings. Therefore, the ramifications are not advantageous to anyone or thing and we could eventually be the means to our own demise.

 Fire-Ravaged Ruins, Gamla, Israel 2010 
Barbed wire bush, Dead Sea, Israel 2010 

Abandoned Outpost, Dead Sea, Israel 2010 
(Un)Occupied Territory #1, Dead Sea, Israel 2010 
(Un)Occupied Territory #2, Dead Sea, Israel 2010 
Trenches from the ’48 and ’67 Wars, Jerusalem, Israel 2010 
Imbedded Plastic from Explosion, Golan Heights, Israel 2010 
Debris, IDF Firing Zone, Gamla, Israel 2010 
IDF Training Grounds, Golan Heights, Israel 2010 
Trench Entrance, Jerusalem, Israel 2010 
Syrian Sentry Post, Golan Heights, Israel 2010 
Fire-Scorched Valley, Gamla, Israel 2010 

Robert Rutoed: Right Time Right Place

The photographs of Robert Rutoed appeared on my visual radar
several years ago when I was introduced to his project, Less is More. The images made an impression that kept his name and photographs
in the forefront of my mental Rolodex – not an easy feat, as I look at a lot of
images on a daily basis. 
Robert is part of that wonderful European street shooter legacy that is so important in a world where technology keeps our heads down, where cell phones remove us from truly being engaged with each other.  And it’s this heads-down mentality that disassociates our connections with a world rich with small dramas. We need Robert’s photographs to make us realize what we are missing, and allow the levity of his work to not only see ourselves with amusement, but to simply, see ourselves.

What Robert brings to the contemporary photographic dialogue
is that intangible ability to see the world with a skewed lens – a lens that is
compassionate and at the same time, unkind. It is a lens that is the stuff of
operas and nightmares, comedies and slapstick. Robert finds that split second
of humor or truth telling and that instant of social documentation or absurdity
that makes us not only laugh at ourselves, but also laugh and feel embarrassed
all at the same time.  Or should I
say, at The Right Time.
Robert has a new book, Right Time Right Place, that releases this week, and I have the privilege of writing the foreword to this publication.
Robert  was born in Vienna and is a photographer and filmmaker. He created numerous
short feature films with screenings worldwide and his photographic work has been exhibited throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Robert was recently the winner of the
New York Photo Award 2012 in the category Fine Art. His books included: Less Is More
(2009), grayscales, early b&w photographs (2010), Right Time Right
Place
(2012).
Right Time Right Place
Being at the right place at the right time is usually associated with
happiness and success. But what happens when we are at the right place
at the wrong time? Do we even know that this is the right place? And
what if it turns out that it is the wrong place after all? But the right
time!” – Whoever loses his orientation over this thought will get a
feeling for Robert Rutöd’s latest pictures. The Vienna-born photographer
wandered for five years through Europe and has proven to be a keen
observer with an often tragicomic view: The blind man who finds
orientation by putting his stick in a tram track, the helpless swan that
finds itself frozen to the vast stretch of ice, or the amputee operator
of a shooting range set up in a ruined building. It gets macabre with
the portraits of the Pope, Hitler and Mussolini decorating the labels of
wine bottles.