Photography + Film Community News – May 2022

We’re incredibly excited to share what the VCU Photo + Film community has been able to accomplish throughout this academic year! We’re always inspired to see how everyone in the Photography + Film department has deepened and expanded their dedication to the medium; both nationally and internationally.


Sasha Waters Freyer will be premiering her film ‘Fragile’ at an international film festival in July 2022. Sasha Waters Freyer’s film is a” personal meditation on the early history of cinema, the anxiety of aging, and the woeful comedy of professional envy.  16mm footage of six “magic lantern” glass slides from the turn of the last century wryly evoke the Structural film tradition of anti-illusionist cinema and demystification.”

A still from Sasha Waters Freyer’s 16mm short titled “Fragile”

Justin James Reed was included in a esteemed group exhibition at Candela Gallery in Richmond, Virginia titled “Coming Down to Earth“. Artists featuring work in the exhibition include Alanna Airitam, Jasmine Clarke, Paul Guilmoth, Justine Kurland, Gita Lenz, Anne Arden McDonald, Justin James Reed, Patricia Underwood, D.M. Witman, Iwase Yoshiyuki, & Susan Worsham. He also was included in the following publications: “Coming Down to Earth,” Candela Gallery, Richmond, VA (catalogue), “Outs,” Skylark Press (Chicago, IL), FW:Books (Amsterdam, Netherlands), and a self-published book, “Hallucinations”.

Sonali Gulati was award three prestigious awards / grants: a Director’s Choice Award from Thomas Edison Film Festival for “Miles & Kilometres”, an award for “Miles & Kilometres” from SeeMor Short Films Festival, Anglesey, and an award for “Miles & Kilometres” from Kinodrome: International Motion picture and Screenplay Festival. Sonali Gulati has continued to showcase “Miles & Kilometres” internationally: the 27th Annual Twin Rivers Media Festival in Asheville, NC, the Arizona International Film Festival in Tucson, AZ, the Thomas Edison Film Festival that’s traveling nationwide, the Prague International Indie Film Festival in the Czech Republic, the XPRMNTL Film Festival in London, England, the World Cinema Carnival in Kolkata, India, the DC South Asian Film Festival in Washington, DC, the James River Film Festival in Richmond, VA, the Bizarrya Film Festival in Porto, Portugal, the Oxford Film Festival in Oxford, Mississippi, the 20th In the Palace International Short Film Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the Esto Es Para Esto Film Festival in Monterrey, Mexico.

John Freyer was awarded a series of awards, and grants during the academic year, most recently being a VCU Foundation Gift from Chip and Lori Conk to Fifty/Fifty Project Fund to support new recovery focused arts/health initiatives ($5000) and a DBHDS – Expanding Collegiate Recovery Grant for $25,000 to build and launch 5 new ‘Free Hot Coffee Bikes’ at VCU, University of Richmond, Longwood University, Radford University and University of Mary Washington. John Freyer also successfully funded a $26,000 Kickstarter Campaign in partnership with the Society for Photographic Education and the Center for Creative Photography – the ‘2020 FotoFika All Stars Trading Card Project’. The ‘FotoFika 2020 All Star Trading Cards’, is now in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, George Eastman Museum Library, Nelson Atkins Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University Special Collections, the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Aurora Library at University of Colorado Denver, the International Center of Photography Library, University of the Arts Library, California Baptist University, the Society for Photographic Education, Southern Oregon University and the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.

Jonathan Molina-Garcia was awarded a VCU Humanities Research Fellowship and “will be converting a seminar he taught, “Brown Sadness,” into a comprehensive study of speculative philosophy and art from the global South. He will start drafting a book for young readers interested in art and politics.” Molina-Garcia was the only faculty member in the School of the Arts to receive the Fellowship. The fellowships, Cristina Stanciu, Ph.D., director of the Humanities Research Center and an associate professor of English said, are “essential for scholars in the humanities, humanistic social sciences and the arts because they provide dedicated time for research and writing, away from teaching obligations for the semester.”


Peter Cochrane will have work in a group show at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Illinois titled Beyond The Frame running from July 8 – October 23.

Current Students

Jasmine Elmore worked alongside VCU Cinema alum, Devin Griffin & Oakwood Arts’ Chip Jackson, the Director of Photography, of the short film “Babushka”.

Behind the scenes with the OA JET Crew Top Left: Jasmine Elmore (Boom Operator/Sound Utility) working alongside Chip Jackson (Director of Photography /Camera Operator) between takes.

Grade Solomon was a finalist (one of 42) for The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today competition. Grade was selected through an open call that garnered more than 2,700 entries from artists working across the United States and Puerto Rico. The people’s choice award is open, and you can vote here.

Shana, December 19
Inkjet print, 2020

Cecilia Tuttle received the SRISA (Santa Reparata International School Of Art) work-study scholarship which covers tuition for school abroad in Florence, Italy.

Massayan Jallah will be featured in a group exhibition at the Smithsonian for their role as an Assistant Film Director/Co-Director for A World Without Youth Prisons (Video Installation) with fellow VCU alumni Mark Strandquist.

Melati Maupin was awarded ‘Most Outstanding’ by my professors in Junior Photo at VCUarts, was a part of a group show curated by Efrem Zelony Mindell via LocalHost Gallery for their Undisclosed Resource: Horror Show, online archive exhibition, and was selected for a curated group show at Different Wrld Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina (June – July 2022).

Myron Smith‘s full length movie “Young Blood” was picked up for distribution by The tenth anniversary edition DVD was released April 15.

Elise Wojtowicz and Kayleigh MacDonald will be attending the Sable Artist Residency for a week this summer. Elise also was the recipient of an VMFA Fellowship and a Dean’s International Research Grant to continue their thesis work. 

Lily Hobart was the awarded an artist in residency at Burren College in Clare, Ireland. Lily will be making work about the post-glacial landscape.