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.

It takes a lot of hustle and professionalism to make it in the film industry. “Once you get a chance, you really have to prove yourself, both in work ethic and personality” says West. Once a big film or TV show finishes you are looking for the next one. But, West continues, “Once word gets around about you and you make more connections, you will suddenly get a ton of calls for jobs.”

West emphasizes how important learning to print on a large format printer was for her now that she works in the film industry. The need for that knowledge is huge. They are constantly using Plotters and KIPs so knowing all of the technical things like file type, paper type, and how specific images will print on certain types of materials in order to make a good print is essential. Other things she learned while she was in the department which have proved necessary include knowing how to edit PDFS, photo manipulation, knowing when images/plans are scaled correctly, color correction, knowing how to ask questions, and time management.

“When you are working on sets you have to try to think about the characters you are portraying through the spaces around them. Photo + Film helped me a lot with thinking outside the box, and seeing things from different angles.”

Heather West standing with two of her personal fine art prints which were used in a gallery scene on the show Rectify.

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).

1708 Gallery ARTIST TALK // VCU Photo’s John Freyer and Stephanie Benassi

Thursday October 8th, 1708 Gallery will have an artist talk featuring VCU’s Photo Department professor John Freyer and MFA Graduate Stephanie Benassi.

Stephanie’s work, displayed in the show Going Somewhere, is featured along with six other artists.”Through video and performance, sculpture and photography, painting and sound, these artists engage notions of navigation and movement, adaptation and mobility, exploration and transition.” Her work, Global, is a photo archive of gelatin silver prints. The wood samples her photographs feature, found in local shops, are considered “exotic,” being from areas all over the world.


Post Graduate Success: Fionnuala Bradley

Fionnuala [Fin] Bradley is a VCU alum with a BFA in Photography. Her humble beginnings, similar to many college students, included taking jobs in the food industry; and the need for change and a driven attitude led her to drop everything and move to San Francisco. “Leaving VCU, I felt a loss, as well as, a little lost. I no longer had access to facilities and equipment, to a daily routine, to purposeful deadlines and most importantly, a community of like-minded artists.” Rather than dwelling on this loss, Fionnuala took the challenges San Francisco life threw her way. She maintained a day job to afford rent while also working hard to develop connections, specifically with groups in her interest field of youth development in the arts and culture sector. “I interned with the Education Department of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, mentored youth with a photography program called First Exposures and taught Digital Art to middle schoolers in the After School Program that I now direct.”


1708 New assistant director!


A big shout out to Janelle Proulx (MFA 2014) for her new full-time position as the Assistant Director of Richmond’s beloved 1708 Gallery.

“I’ve been working at 1708 for a year now as a part-time Gallery Coordinator, but I’m excited to be playing a bigger role in 1708’s mission of presenting exceptional new art as the Assistant Director. It’s an honor to get to work at 1708 with its great reputation and positive presence in the community – something I hope I can make more widely known through video and photo.”


Congratulations Janelle!