Alumni Feature: Austin Aviles

Austin Aviles’ Studio, Doha Qatar

Austin Aviles, BFA ’17, is currently participating in the 2017-2018 VCU Qatar Fellowship program, a 9 month residency at the VCUQ campus, based in their Painting and Printmaking Department. Aviles found out about the residency after the Tasmeem Doha 2017 Biennial earlier this year. In the past, the position has only been open to VCU’s Painting and Printmaking Department, but has recently also been opened up to the Department of Photography and Film. While participating as the Artist in Residency at VCU Qatar, he has also been given a job there as the Digital Print Lab Manager.

“The fact that I am able to travel for this opportunity just months following my undergrad is incredible and the idea is still continuing to sink in.” Aviles says when asked about how it feels to have been able to jump into this right after graduation. He has already had many cultural, political, and educational experiences that he would never have been privy to if he hadn’t received this residency. “…the chance to step out of my comfort zone and into a complex and unique environment such as this was too good to pass.”


Alumni Feature: Stephen Wozny

“If I can give one piece of advice to VCU Photo/Film students that I wish I’d known when I was there, it’s that the relationships you have with your classmates are just about the most important thing you’ve got for getting your careers started. Some people can jump right into solo freelancing, but most of us can’t. Getting started is tough, and collaboration is one of the best things you can do to start getting professional assignments.”

Stephen Wozny, BFA ’12, currently works as a photojournalist for five different local news stations in Michigan, covering state politics. Since he works in a bureau, he has a little more flexibility than the rest of the crew in the newsroom. They generally are able to know what story they are going to cover a couple days to a couple weeks in advance.

“What makes it interesting is finding people who are affected by the politics, for instance we recently talked to someone who was no longer able to afford the medication he needs to treat a serious condition, within the context of a Democratic member of the Michigan Senate who wants to regulate the process of prescription drug pricing to prevent gouging.”

He says that the work he is doing now for the news stations is a vital step towards his dream of being able to document NGOs and humanitarian work. He also hopes to one day work covering conflict zones.


Alumni Feature: Hunter Brumfield

Hunter Brumfield is currently working as a freelance director and editor. He works on regional and coastal Tv spots, brand anthems or web media. He is also always improving his craft through working on music videos and short films – which at the same time helps him increase his visibility. Hunter began working in the film industry freshman year at VCU when he heard there was a lifetime christmas movie being filmed in downtown Richmond. He jumped at the opportunity to be a production assistant on set. He wanted to get a real feel for how the world operated. “It felt a bit like a thankless job in a sense, but in hindsight it was an invaluable experience and one that everyone should go through as a student.” says Brumfield. “Being on set, even if it’s a schlocky christmas movie, humbles you to the mass amount of positions that a set requires.”

Above is the music video Brumfield directed for Lucy Dacus’ song I Don’t Wanna be Funny Anymore.

Continuing in his undergraduate degree, he worked as an assistant for a corporate photographer where he learned the language of being a creative as well as how to deal with corporate clients. He says there is a deftness and structure in how you handle them. Hunter continued his photo assistant work into his senior year and he was asked to work on a job for the World Trade Center doing data management and C camera. This means he was running the 3rd camera, picking up smaller shots while the A and B cameras gathered the main footage. This was for a production company based downtown that had a very high stress environment. Here, everything he had been learning in previous jobs was culminating into one. After getting back to VA, he was asked to edit the project. He did this job for free, knowing that the company would likely offer him a paid gig the next time if he was able to impress them and sure enough they did. That company was the Branching, where Brumfield is now currently posted. Three years later and he is now one of two primary editors at this space, as well as a director. Each new project he gets is bigger in scope which he says is “…certainly a matter of gained skill and mutual trust.”

“Photo+Film laid out the foundation for the A to Z of filmmaking” Brumfield says. “They gave you the tools, but it was totally up to you whether you want to master them or passively accept them.” He also mentions the importance of his peers from Photo+Film. The network he was able to sustain in Photo+Film is vital for him because they continuously recommend each other for jobs and solicit each other’s specialized skills for their own works. “I absolutely owe them when it comes to where I am at today.”

Hunter Brumfield on the set of “Bones” by Anousheh – a new music video he directed. Coming Soon!

Alumni Feature: Heather West

Heather West, a Photo+Film alumni, graduated with her concentration in photography in 2014. She is currently working as an Art Department Production Assistant for TV and Movies. She has worked on numerous projects including Rectify Season 4 (AMC), Logan Lucky by Steven Soderbergh, Pitch Perfect 3 (Universal), and Black Panther (Marvel). The film industry has many niche jobs. Heather’s main duties involve designing all of the signs, labels, vinyl wraps for cars, logos, and menus etc. Almost nothing from the real world can be used because of copyright laws, so West utilizes her photoshop and design skills to produce the graphics content that you see in TV and Film. For the film Pitch Perfect 3, she made all of the passports you see and every single cereal box. She also does a lot of photo manipulation for pictures seen throughout the films and TV shows. Right now she describes her responsibilities as being 50/50 between creative work and administrative work because she also ends up doing a lot of paperwork.

Heather West with a dollar tree receipt of props for the film Logan Lucky.


VCU Alumni Jaclyn Brown – Group Show, Berlin

Photo by Jaclyn Brown

VCU Alumni Jaclyn Brown will be in a captivating group show May 18th and May 19th 2017 alongside

Victor Alcantara » Paul Cohen » Alan Huck » Emily Kinni » Molly Peters » Stuart Richardson » Ligaiya Romero » Rick Schatzberg » Marshall Scheuttle » Ernesto Solana » Antonis Theodoridis » Alex Williams »

The show, curated by Jörg Colberg, discusses this inauspicious time by hinting at a sense of unease within the societies each of the artists come from. The exhibition explores a wide range of contemporary photography – featuring quiet observations from anonymous cityscapes, portraits (staged and candid), vaguely dystopian  landscapes and more.

For more information please visit or

New Waves 2016 featuring VCU photo/film

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 11.06.28 AM

Moca, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, has selected from 282 candidates the artists to be featured in their 2016 show, New Waves.

Of the 27 that will be shown, two are from VCU Photography and Film’s department: Department Chair Sasha Waters Fryere and MFA alumni Alex Artz.

still from Sasha's 'Our Summer Made Her Light Escape', 16mm film, 2012

Still from Sasha’s ‘Our Summer Made Her Light Escape’, 16mm film, 2012


VCU photo film at InLight: Josh Thorud and Anthony Smith

This year the VMFA housed the InLight display. For the show, VCU Photography and Film department’s Josh Thorud and Anthony Smith collaborated to create Kiosks.

In their collaborative work, Josh Thorud and Anthony Smith explore commercial architecture, fine art documentation, abstract video and nostalgia through site-specific video sculptures. Kiosks combines retail materials with swirling and self-destroying light sculptures. Vaguely familiar forms, over layers of jagged edges, deteriorate into mere light, color, shape and movement. Contemporary art is more often seen in digital form as documentation images and videos than in physical space, which causes anxiety over the ability to document work. This pushes artists to make work that looks good in thumbnails. Kiosks is composed of previous documentation, synthesizing object and document into one piece.


Sediment Arts showcasing Photo/Film Professors in ‘To: Pluto’

Sediment Arts is currently housing the work of VCU’s Photo and Film departments faculty members: Jon-Phillip Sheridan, Matthew Warren, & Abbey Lee Sarver.  The show was co-curated by Dana Ollestad.

“Sediment Arts’ invitational art exhibition To: Pluto is organized under this theme of historic exploration, expanded understandings, and loss of innocence. The artists in the exhibition work through various mediums and across platforms, with diverse perspectives on environmental, social, and technological issues relevant to society today. Their work speaks to relationships with Pluto or other planetary bodies including our own, to the human longing that comes with distant and detached explorations of intangible objects, as well as the role of speculation and scientific discovery in defining what is within or without our physical world and imagination.”


Kate Fowler doing big things with the Magnum Foundation!


BFA Alum Kate Fowler working with the Magnum Foundation as a part of their Photography, Expanded initiative, recently coordinated The Third Annual Symposium. Presentations and panel discussions presented innovative documentary storytelling and emerging ideas in digital media and journalism on social justice issues. Featured artists included Andrew Beck Grace (After the Storm), Katy Scoggin (CITIZENFOUR), Marek Tuszynski (Exposing the Invisible), Elaine Sheldon & Sarah Ginsburg (She Does Podcast).

For more on Kate and her work with the Magnum Foundation, click this link!



UVA exhibit features VCU alums Janelle and Dana

I don’t like the way you’re not looking at me.
work by Marisa Finos, Erika Diamond, Dana Ollestad, and Janelle Proulx
Come check out Ruffin Gallery’s exhibit featuring work by VCU’s MFA alums Janelle Proulx and Dana Ollestad along with Marisa Finos and Erika Diamond.

October 9 – December 8, 2015  “I don’t like the way you’re not looking at me.” brings together the work of 4 artists from 4 different mediums and perspectives, while investigating similar themes- themes of thresholds, the impulse of self-preservation, and the idea of legacy through relationship.

Reception, October 30, 5:30 – 7:30pm.
(Free parking in Culbreth Road Parking Garage after 5pm).