Steven Casanova (BFA ’15)
Food Justice Educator & Documentary Photographer
Steven Casanova, BFA ’15, is the photographer for VCUarts, and an educator at ART180 and with the Richmond Food Corridor. He credits his success thus far to years of experience interning and working within the Richmond community. Being a working artist helped him network and meet people who could connect him to new opportunities, specifically to educate the public on political and social issues.
Students at the Bundestag, Berlin Studio & City Summer Abroad course
photo by Matthew Warren, July 2019
Dear students, parents, teachers, alumni and friends VCU’s Department of Photography + Film,
I write to share our department highlights of the summer and lots of exciting news – see below “Save the Date” information for upcoming public events!
Artist and affiliated faculty Matthew Warren had another smashing success with VCUarts students in the Summer Study Abroad Program (see picture above) in Berlin In this 4-week, 6-credit Berlin: Studio & City course, students were immersed in a diverse contemporary art community and spent their time both in the studio and outside, discovering the city’s museums, galleries and professional artist spaces. Stay tuned for future announcements about how to apply for 2019.
After five years of research, filming and editing, as well as the support of VCUarts and my faculty colleagues, I am thrilled to announce that my feature documentary Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable will have its Virginia premiere at the VMFA on Friday, Sept. 7th at 6pm. The theatrical release in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere will follow in mid-late September.
For current students, we are thrilled to announce that our departmental application for state-funded equipment purchases was granted this spring, enabling us to purchase $30,000 of LIGHTING UPGRADES including a huge range of daylight and bi-color LED light kits and panels.
SAVE THE DATES:
- AUG 31 – Photo + Film MFAPecha Kucha– open to all! Come learn about their amazing work! 5:30-7:30, FAB Building, Sculpture Crit Room #3
- SEPT 7th–Cassils, a gender non-conforming, transmasculine artist visiting from Los Angeles, will host a conversation and brown-bag luncheon open to all VCUarts in the ICA auditorium, 10:30am – 12:30pm. Students are encouraged to watch Cassils video in the ICA auditorium between 10 and 10:30am that morning.
- OCT 16th-17th– Photographer David Hartt, co-sponsored by PHTO, at the ICA as a part of the Hedges, Edges, Dirt exhibition.
- OCT-NOV (exact date TBD), Artist and department Graduate Director Paul Thulin’s solo show,Pine Tree Ballads opens at Candela Gallery.
- EARLY NOVEMBER– Photographer Andre Bradley, shortlisted for the Paris Photo Aperture Foundation First Photo Book Award in 2016 (open lecture, details TBA)
- LATE NOVEMBER – Photographer Jess Dugan, whose second monograph,To Survive on This Shore, was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2018 (open lecture, details TBA)
- NOV 21 – DEC 21 Photography + Film MFA exhibition, FAB Gallery
She is busy writing and revising her feature film screenplay, but Sonali Gulati’s documentary I Am remains a darling of national PBS, airing 1,293 times on 194 channels in 41 states in the past twelve months. Paul Thulin’s Faculty Research Grant from VCUarts allowed him some intensive time in Puerto Rico to work on a new family-based photography and multimedia project. Paul’s show at Candela Gallery, Pine Tree Ballads, will be accompanied by a book of the same title with an introduction by poet (and former visitor to the department) Dora Malech.
Mark Boulos spent some time this summer attending SIGGRAPH in Vancouver, where he presented his VR work Elastic Time in the Immersive Pavillion. SIGGRAPH is an internationally renowned conference on innovative computer graphics and interactive technologies. Recently tenured and promoted to Associate Professor John Freyer was also busy this summer, spending nearly three weeks at the Tate Modern in London as the first Tate Exchange Associate Artist from the U.S., leading his social practice project, Fifty/Fifty: Conversations from the Other Side with VCUarts. John is also a semi-finalist for the Creative Capital grant. Up now through Sept 9th is the inaugural show at VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art where you can catch Jon-Phillip Sheridan’s video installation Fixed Air which displays real-time current and accumulated levels of carbon dioxide produced by vehicles driving past the ICA. HUGE CONGRATS to Justin James Reed, also promoted to Associate Professor with tenure this spring!
KUDOS to our incredible students and alumni as well!
2018 MFA Johannes Barfield was awarded the prestigious Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship Award for his MFA Thesis exhibition, My Eyes Due See, and 2018 MFA Stephanie DeMer recently accepted a position as a Faculty Associate in Photography at Arizona State University. 2019 MFA candidate Peter Cochrane was included in the Open Juried Exhibition at the Vermont Center for Photography. BFA 2018 Riley Goodman had a solo show at the Museum of Howard County History in Ellicott City, MD.
Heather West (BFA 2014) has been working as an Art Department Production Assistant for TV and Movies, most recently on “Rectify” Season 4 (AMC), “Logan Lucky” by Steven Soderbergh, “Pitch Perfect 3” (Universal), and “Black Panther” (Marvel). Mark Strandquist (BFA 2013), creative director of ART 180’s Youth Self Advocacy Through Art program, and lead coordinator on “My Reality,” an immersive installation about the Juvenile Justice system created with support from Scenic, a virtual reality content studio based in New York City; Richmond’s ART 180, and RISE for Youth. Last but definitely not least, John Calderon (BFA 2004) has been nominated for an Emmy Award in Outstanding Production Design for his work as an Art Director on the Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World! Go John!!
Students & alumni please send me your news, always.
Installation view, work by David Riley, Photo + Film MFA candidacy show
CONGRATULATIONS to our incredibly hard-working and talented SENIORS who crossed the stage today! You did it, you earned it, you are all AMAZING.
To all our students, parents, teachers, alumni and friends VCUarts Dept of Photography + Film,
I write to share highlights of the Spring 2018 semester and to announce our student awards!
We had an exciting roster of Visiting Artists this spring: Paul Sepuya, photographer and portrait artist, featured in the 2018 “New Photography” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art; filmmaker Roger Beebe with a wild, multi-projector screening/performance at the Anderson Gallery; book artist, photographer and writer NicholasMuellner, who received a super prestigious 2018 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, and radical, multidisciplinary artist, Tameka Norris. In conjunction with the James River Film Festival, we also sponsored a visit from screenwriter, director and indie film darling Kelly Reichardt. Local visitors who came in to share their time and expertise in the classroom include photographer Andrew Fedynak of Zatara Books; Photo + Film alum Abbey Reddington of the Martin Agency; copyright lawyer Kirk Schroder, and Detroit-based book artist in town for a residency at Quirk Gallery, Emmy Bright. For the third year in a row, we were thrilled to have Margot Norton, Associate Curator at the New Museum in New York, return to work with our MFA students.
The Dept of Photography + Film was well-represented once again in the Anderson Juried Show, featuring work by seven students. Congrats to Emma Gould for receiving the Award of Distinction in Photography, awarded by Alex Klein of the ICA Philadelphia.
MAJOR AWARDS LAST NIGHT at the TWO BFA senior Thesis shows exhibition:
Outstanding Senior in Photography: Jessica Taylor
Outstanding Senior in Film: Jack Hippchen
Outstanding Junior in Photography: Eren Agim
Outstanding Junior in Film: Sydney Cordoba
Outstanding Sophomore in Photography: Becca Renton
Outstanding Sophomore in Film: Damian Massie
These awards are based on faculty nominations for outstanding leadership, academic and creative excellence, integrity, and involvement in the department. Other Awards include:
Special Jury Prize, Film Senior Show, Vic Kee
Best in Show, Film Senior Show, Kevin Wright, Jr.
Honorable Mention, Photography Senior Show, Allie Madsen
Special Jury Prize, Photography Senior Show, Riley Goodman
Best in Show, Photography Senior Show, Sun Park
Every year also at the Senior Photography Show, our friends at Capital One, Art Program Project Manager Francis Thompson and Art Administrator Anne Fletcher, award exhibitions to outstanding seniors. This year the honors went to Christina Macauley, Elizabeth Humphries and Pearl Steinel.
The VCUarts Dean’s Scholarship in Photography + Film for the 2018-19 academic year was awarded to Brenna Davis.
Hats off to Photo + Film Assistant Professor Jon-Phillip Sheridan (whose Green Walls project was cited by VCU President Rao as one of the Ten Great Things about VCU) for his work Fixed Air, now on view at Declaration, the inaugural show at the new Institute for Contemporary Art. Assistant Professor and Virtual Reality mastermind Mark Boulos continues the success of his project, Elastic Time, a mixed reality interactive documentary about space-time, currently in the Swiss digital showcase at Cannes Film Festival. Shane Rocheleau’s beautiful first book of photographs, YOU ARE MASTERS OF THE FISH AND BIRDS AND ALL THE ANIMALS aka (YAMOTFABAATA) was recently released by Gnomic Books; Shannon Castleman has work in Disappearing Legacies: The World as Forest, a travelling exhibition now on view in Berlin.Studio and Location lighting instructor extraordinaire John Henley has a show at 1708 Satellite Gallery at Linden Row Inn that includes portraits of current and former VCU faculty. Alyssa Salomon, as Blue Skies Workroom, was an exhibitor at CURRENT book fair, debuting a new project of hand bound books titled Relative Medium. I would also like to share that my documentary feature, Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable, won a Special Jury Prize at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and will be released theatrically in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Italy this fall.
Three cheers for our incredible students and alumni! 2018 MFA Johannes Barfield will spend part of his summer in a residency at MASS MoCA using digital media to explore how race and identity interact with the local environment. Johannes was also honored this past spring at the VCU “Black History in the Making” ceremony. 2018 MFA Stephanie DeMer‘s thesis work, Enact in Disappearance, was featured in MuseA journal issue Six; she will also have a two-person exhibition, In the Summer-land, opening at Grizzly Grizzly in Philadelphia on June 1st. Joseph Minek, MFA 2013, has had photographic works included in three group exhibitions this year, in Seattle, Cleveland, and the Mehr Galerie Kornfeld in Berlin. BFA David Hall was awarded a 2017-18 Dean’s International Travel Grant, while BFA Becca Renton received an Internship Support Grant, also from the VCUarts Dean’s Office. One year out from earning her BFA in 2017, Emily Rund is currently the assistant editor/production coordinator for Tippet Rise Arts Center, where she works in film, creative media and graphic design.
If you are considering a gift to VCU’s Capital Campaign, every dollar counts! Please direct any gifts, no matter how modest, to the Department of Photography + Film where you know we will put it to great use helping to fund AWARDS! Visiting Artists! Student Travel! PIZZA for Open Nite!
AND HEY, it’s tax deductible:
Visit https://www.support.vcu.edu/give/arts and tab down to Photo & Film if you wish to make a gift. The students, faculty and everyone in Photography + Film love you all. Have a terrific summer!
<3 <3 <3
Emily Rund, BFA ’17, is currently the assistant editor/production coordinator for Tippet Rise Arts Center, where she primarily does film work, as well as some graphic design and creative media work. At Tippet Rise, there is the summer concert season and the “off season.” Currently it is the off season, which means that Rund will be editing the footage from the previous season while preparing for the coming season. Recently she was given the opportunity to put her second major, kinetic imaging, to work – and has been animating the title sequence for one of the center’s films. During the summer Rund helps out anywhere and everywhere, picking up a camera when needed, giving tours of the center’s 10,000 acre sculpture park to special guests, or working directly with the musicians to help set the stage in the layout they prefer. (more…)
Naoko Wowsugi, MFA ’11, is an artist of Korean-Japanese descent, who moved to the United States in 2001, leading her to explore conditions of identity and belonging in her work. Through a multidisciplinary practice including visual art, sound, local lore, horticulture, and community participation, she celebrates human connections by toying with interpersonal and sociopolitical norms. She currently lives and works in Washington, DC where she is an Professorial Lecturer at American University.
Allison Bills, BFA ’16, is currently working as a Digital Imaging Specialist/Photographer at NASA-Johnson Space Center. She began her career as a photographer before she came to VCU, shooting commission work. While at VCU she was able to enrich her technical skills. Allison says the concept of “just keep shooting” brought her some of her best photographs and artistic growth.
In 2015 Bills landed an internship with NASA that she found out about through the department. This internship later led to her being hired to work for them full time. Her day to day on the job at NASA ranges from being out shooting to working in the photo lab. In the lab they are working towards digitizing all of the film shot for NASA before digital took over. It’s an estimated 30-year project to bring them up to speed on archiving the film digitally. Upon leaving school Bills had a strong portfolio, demonstrating all types of photography, which she says was a big part of what her supervisor at NASA liked about her work. Bills hard work allowed her to graduate with a job offer from NASA. The weekend following graduation she packed up her RVA home and moved to Texas to start her career and hasn’t looked back!
Joseph Minek is an artist based in Cleveland Ohio. Joseph received his Masters of Fine Arts degree in Photography & Film from Virginia Commonwealth University and his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He has exhibited nationally and internationally in spaces such as the Cleveland Museum of Art, Denny Gallery (New York), and Galerie Kornfeld (Berlin). Joseph is currently focusing on his studio practice dealing with the possibilities of photographic material while also teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Art and Cuyahoga Community College.
In January, we begin accepting applications for our Summer Studio Program in Photography, Film + Media Art. The Summer Studio is a 4-week artistic residency / post-baccalaureate experience, ideal for artists developing a portfolio for graduate school applications and those interested in an immersive, hands on studio experience. The lead instructor for 2018 Summer Studio is artist and MFA alumni, Matthew Warren. Please see our website for a full list of visiting and associated faculty.
Matthew Warren gets all the fun jobs – he is also leading our summer intensive open to all VCUarts majors, the 6-credit Berlin: Studio & City course. Over four weeks, from July 4 – August 5, 2018, students will be immersed in both expanding their studio practice and exploring the contemporary art community in this vibrant city. Spots are still open, and the deadline for registration is April 1st.
Speaking of travel, in February, John Freyer and our awesome Photo + Film MFAs will spend four days in New York, visiting museums, galleries and artist studios, before they and we head to the Society for Photographic Education National Conference in Philadelphia in early March. I’m slated to give a talk: “The Feminist and the Street Photographer” on Saturday, March 3rd, so if you plan to attend SPE, please come check it out. Also please check out MFA alum Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa’s keynote lecture at SPE on Friday, March 2nd.
Amazing THANKS to Graduate Director Paul Thulin for serving as interim Chair of the department for the fall 2017 semester. For spring, Paul will be dividing his time between the department and the VCUarts Dean’s Office where he will serve as interim Graduate Director for the School.
Showtime’s Homeland Season 7 is being filmed in Richmond VA and will premiere January 2018. Many of our Photo + Film alumni have landed themselves jobs on this production.
Natalie Kohlhepp, BFA ’16, is currently working as a Production Assistant for the Art department on the 7th season of Homeland for Fox Television. As a Production Assistant she serves as an extra pair of hands for everyone in the department, working directly under the Art Coordinator, and often working one-on-one with the Graphic Designers, Set Designers, Set Decorators and Production Designer. In the past she has worked as a buyer and also photographed actors to help with set dressing needs. On the job she does a lot of deliveries, large format printing, supplies graphic design and photography needs, does research, and communications work.
“As an art student I learned to refine my own adaptability in any given context. You work with people, you work fast, you learn different creative programs, you learn the basics of lighting in school & then you just continue to draw on and expand that vocabulary of skills with each job. Constantly troubleshooting.” – Natalie Kohlhepp
Dominique Muñoz, BFA ’15, has just finished working as the first photographer in residence for Clark Construction. While there, he photographed the art of building – focusing on the social aspects of construction. He has traveled across the country photographing nearly 100 different Clark construction sites ranging from residential buildings to underground tunnels. On these sites, Muñoz interacted with the men and women working on the construction process.
Muñoz’s role has unified the company by photographing the vast amount of job sites across the U.S. He produced new material for all internal and external advertising, marketing proposals and company wide quarterly meetings and conferences. While working with Clark Construction he also utilized his experience with filmmaking to produce content and assist in the marketing department.