Department News


Dear students, parents, teachers, alumni and friends VCU’s Department of Photography + Film,

I write to share highlights of the Spring 2016 semester and to wish the very best to all our graduating seniors who will cross the stage this Saturday.  Please read on and help us celebrate the many accomplishments of our students, faculty and alumni!


We are thrilled to welcome eight students as the first cohort of our post-baccalaureate Summer Studio Program from mid-May to mid-June, 2016.  The Summer Studio is a 4-week artistic residency, ideal for artists developing a portfolio for graduate school and those interested in an immersive, hands on studio arts experience.  If you are interested in learning more or wish to share with a friend for next summer, the website is here

This past spring, our graduate MFA students worked closely with our affiliated faculty, Brooklyn-based video artist Ira Eduardovna and sculptor Beth Campbell. We also hosted Mary Virginia Swanson, a long-time photo educator, workshop leader, author and consultant to photographers and the new executive director of LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph; filmmaker Jem Cohen and his beautiful film The Counting; Hawaii-born, Brooklyn-based contemporary photographic artist Letha Wilson and Margot Norton, Associate Curator at the New Museum in New York.

One of the most exciting, anticipated events of the spring semester for the undergraduates is the Anderson Juried Show, which featured works by 18 Photography + Film majors, including Jessica Aicholtz and Devin Hein, who received, respectively, the Award of Distinction and the Jumping Fences Award from juror Toby Kamps, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Menil Collection in Houston.  This spring the department awarded five Senior Project grants totaling $1500 to Erika Bizousky,  Hannah Chertock, James Quinlan and Lexi Wilson for projects ranging from bookmaking and photographic sculpture to VR research and surrealist film.  Junior Kimin Kim was awarded the VCUarts Dean’s Scholarship in Photography + Film for the 2016-17 academic year.


Alyssa C. Salomon featured in The Valentine

Professor Alyssa C. Salomon’s photo series, A Chicken in Every Plot, is currently being shown at The Valentine. In an article written by the Richmond Times Dispatch, Salomon explains that her work,  “explores the recent resurgence in the backyard chicken movement, a trend that has been on the rise in Richmond, and across the country, over the past few years.”

Her series stems from her curiosity of the backyard chicken population of Richmond and how they’re existence may impact those around them and their environment. Various egg inspired pieces will also be featured with the exhibit, from egg dishes to chicken coop art.


PhotoBook Showcase at Candela featuring Justin Reed


Candela Books + Gallery is currently hosting an Indie Photobook Showcase with work from self-published small press photography books.

“The purpose of the exhibition is to highlight the range of ways independently published photography books are being produced today. As a publisher, Candela is committed to the quality and design of the printed medium. We believe the photographic books on view have an intimate relationship with each photographer’s work and make a remarkable contribution to their legacy. ”

Photography professor in the VCU Photo/Film department Justin Reed is one of the eleven artists featured in this collection. The show will be up until June 18th, 2016.

MFA Alex Matzke featured in ‘Public/Private/Portrait’ Book

MFA Alex Matzke has recently been featured in an article by Humble Arts Foundation with an image from her thesis photography series. The article highlighted one of her images, which will be presented in the book, Public/Private/Portrait. The book is a creation from Romke Hoogwaerts in collaboration with Charlotte Cotton and the International Center of Photography. The title of the book is suggesting of the blurred lines between each subject in the world of photography.

Hoogwaerts comments on the works selected for the book: “Some [artists] are directly invoking the approach in their work, others are commenting on this strange state of constructing one’s own social identity — which is important as virtually everyone in the developed world is implicated in the act when they participate in social media.”

Matzke writes about her thesis show and photography series on her website: “With my photographs from this series I reflect on my experience growing up with military propaganda—pictures of cheerful white women in pearls as part of my rural middle American landscape. I do not name the oppressor because I am not here to pick at the thorns, but to get to the root of the oppression. These are some of the servicewomen I’ve met. Their stories parallel but cannot encompass the private experiences of all service women. I am grateful for their generosity; without them there would be no pictures.”

For the full article, visit the Humble Arts Foundation site. For more of Alex’s work visit her website.

Photography and Film Spring Shows!

Many exciting events have been taking place within the Photo/Film department during the month of May.

The MFA Candidacy show took place Thursday May 5 in Carytown, featuring works by Dana McElroy, Desiree Kapler, Patrick Harkin, Katya Yakubov, Lily Xu and Roxana Azar.

On Friday, May 6, Photography Seniors had the opening of their show, The Fox Behind Our House, filled with incredible, gravity defying installations and photographs. Their Instagram has great documentation of everything from set up to the night of the event.

Saturday afternoon on May 7 the Junior Film class presented their year long workshopped film, Step 9, at the Byrd Theatre. The film was reviewed by RVAmagazine, and their trailer widely spread.

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Photo Credit: Robert Wiebe-King




Tomorrow, April 29 at 5pm, will be the opening of the second round of M.F.A. Thesis Exhibitions. The work is shown in two locations: the Anderson and the Depot Gallery.

VCU’s Photo Film MFA students Farrah Al-Sulaiman, Alex Matzke, and Matthew Warren were featured in the first round show April 8- April 24. This Friday, Abbey Sarver’s work will be exhibited in the Round Two show.

M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition, Round Two

Anderson and the Depot Gallery
April 29 – May 15
Opening Friday, April 29, 5 – 8 p.m.

For more information, visit this website.




3:30 Ira Eduardovna’s work reconstructs narratives of autobiographical nature and examines issues of migration and identity in flux through non-linear story telling. Her video installations examine the border of video and architecture and the influence of architecture on the experience of time and memory.
Awards include: New York State Council on the Arts grant for film and electronic media in 2015, The Ostrovsky Family Fund for experimental Film in 2012 and 2014 and Artis Exhibition Grant in 2012. Artist residencies include: Smack Mellon Residency in New York 2014-2015, Art OMI – Omi International Art Center Ghent, NY 2014, FUTURA center for contemporary Art in Prague 2013, Wave Hill workspace studio program 2016.
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The Libraro Room, Ira Eduardovna
4:30 Known for her drawings, sculpture, and architectural interventions, Beth Campbell creates works that challenge the notion of a physical world beyond our perception. Drawing upon philosophy, phenomenology and psychology, Campbell choreographs spaces, crafts uncanny objects, and maps thought.
Campbell’s commissioned projects include Following Room at the Whitney Museum of Art (2007) and Following Room (Trento) at Manifesta 7, Trento, Italy (2008); Potential Store Fronts for the Public Art Fund, New York (2007).  Recent solo exhibitions include Seomi Gallery, South Korea; Country Club, Chicago; The Sculpture Center, Cleveland OH; Country Club Projects at the Buck House, Los Angeles, and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York. Other museum exhibitions include the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, Greater New York, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, White Columns, the Drawing Room, London, and the Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs NY.
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Double Junk, Beth Campbell

Professor John Freyer Speaks at TEDxRVA

VCU’s photo professor John Freyer was recently one of 19 creative speakers for TEDxRVA this past Tuesday.

TED is a “nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading”, with two annual conferences bringing together the world’s leading “thinkers”. TEDx, the local, independent sibling of TED talks, is a series of “self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.” It takes close to six months and a team of 150 volunteers to organize each TEDx event.

John took part in the thread of TEDx talks known as Artful, an event more focused on creativity, inspiration and art. The event took place at the historic Carpenter Theatre in Richmond. His talk referenced his ongoing project, FREE ICE WATER. For more information, visit the TEDxRVA website, or RVAmagazine’s article on the event.

Photography/Film Students Get Courtside Seats at NCAA Tournament

The madness that is March college basketball season has come to an end for our VCU Rams, but the excitement of the tournament is still fresh for two photography/film students.

Brooke Marsh (B.F.A. ’16) and Teddy Leinbach (B.F.A. ’16) had the opportunity to follow the men’s basketball team to Oklahoma where the Rams battled it out against Oregon State and Oklahoma, who they ultimately lost to on March 20 (81-85).

Marsh is the photography editor at Commonwealth Times. She collaborates with section editors, and in the case of the tournament, the sports editor, on what type of photographs are needed with each piece.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better year to be photography editor at the CT. Especially for basketball; at the beginning it seemed like many weren’t sure how the season would go. It was great being able to document and watch the growing fan base for [Coach] Will Wade and the new era of basketball at VCU.” – Brooke Marsh

During the tournament, Marsh was assigned a specific location to photograph each game. After each half, she and her editor would work quickly to organize their assets.

“I’d photograph the first half and quickly give my memory card to the executive editor to download the photos,” said Marsh. “After each game, I’d go through, edit and select the top 10-25 images for publishing.”

The Rams haven’t made it out of round three since Shaka Smart led the team to the final four in 2011. VCU fans seem to have adjusted well to the new regime under Will Wade, a transition that Leinbach has set out to document in his senior thesis project, “AfterShak.”

“I have been making films about sports for several years, showing the parts of humanity that are only brought to light through competition,” said Leinbach. “I wanted to challenge myself my senior year and take advantage of the fact that I go to a top art school that happens to have a nationally acclaimed basketball team. It was too perfect an opportunity to pass up.”

Leinbach has documented the team’s entire season, ending with the pivotal moments that were captured during the NCAA tournament. While the tournament game footage is property of Turner Sports, Leinbach ended up capturing behind the scenes footage at practice and in the locker room.

“I knew that with Shaka gone, the storyline would follow two paths. Either the season is a bust and fans are left missing Shaka, or the season is a success and everyone forgets who Shaka was. Will Wade has done an incredible job and the team has truly moved past the Shaka-era.” – Teddy Leinbach

Working up close and personal with the basketball team can come with a unique set of challenges, and Leinbach says that this process has taught him to be patient and to make his intentions known and those golden moments will eventually come out.

Photo by Brooke Marsh. VCU Rams with Coach Will Wade during the A-10 match-up with St. Joe’s in Brooklyn.

Article originally appeared on March 22, 2016.

Congratulations Photo/Film VMFA fellowship recipients!


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) fellowship is a prestigious award given to promising artists residing in the state of Virginia. There are categories for undergraduate, graduate and professional artists, and once again VCU’s Photography and Film department had members selected as winning recipients.

Undergraduate Photography students John DiJulio and Monica Escamilla were each selected as two of the eleven recipients in their category. BFA student Kathryn Mayes received one of four Graduate Fellowships, and professor Cynthia Henebry was awarded one of thirteen professional grants.

Kathryn Mayes, Monica Escamilla, John DiJulio

Kathryn Mayes, Monica Escamilla, John DiJulio


To view the list of recipients visit the VMFA fellowship page for 2016-2017. The department continues it’s impressive streak of having at least one student/professor to receive a fellowship over the past five years. Congratulations Cynthia, Kathryn, Monica and John!