Letters from the Chair

Letter from the Chair: Spring 2017

Senior Photo Thesis Opening Night & awards, photo by Jon-Phillip Sheridan

Dear students, parents, teachers, alumni and friends VCUarts Dept of Photography + Film,

 

I write to share highlights of the Spring 2017 semester and to wish the very best to all our graduating seniors who will cross the stage on Saturday.  Please keep read on and help us celebrate the many accomplishments of our students, faculty and alumni, including many faculty accomplishments and student awards!

 

NEWS:

 

Once again we are thrilled that artist and VCUarts tech guru Matthew Warren will bring nearly a dozen students to Germany this summer for his 6-credit Berlin: Studio & City course.  Over four weeks, students will be immersed in both expanding their studio practice and exploring the contemporary art community in this vibrant city – we can’t wait to see what they create on their return! Speaking of travel, in February, Justin James Reed and Brittany Nelson were the fearless leaders of a trip to Los Angeles with our ten MFA students, where they met with curators (including at LACMA), visited artist studios and attended the L.A. Book Fair.

 

We had an exciting roster of Visiting Artists this spring, especially filmmakers! Celebrated Canadian Guy Maddin, in town for the James River Film Festival, shared a sneak-preview of new work in advance of its official premiere.  With the help of the VCUarts Inclusion Infusion Initiative, we co-sponsored a visit from Oscar-winning director Ezra Edelman whose 8-hour documentary O.J.:Made in America, screened over two days.  Filmmaker Shashwati Talukdar shared her recent and ongoing work with students, including the exciting doc-in-progress Marriage Cops, supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, while local star director Rick Alverson met with students in our Revolutionary Cinema class. We also hosted Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris of the Canary Project, a collaborative, interdisciplinary team that produces art and media about ecological issues, and Philly-based photographer Shawn Theodore, whose distinct aesthetic inspired the look of Moonlight.   Finally, Margot Norton, Associate Curator at the New Museum in New York, returned this week to work with our MFA students.

 

The Dept of Photography + Film was well-represented once again in the Anderson Juried Show, featuring works by a record 22 students!  Senior Kimin Kim was the recipient of the Award of Distinction in Photography.  This spring the department awarded five Senior Project grants totaling $1700 to Amarise Carreras, Alex Coyle, Monica EscamillaShannon Lowe, Ryan Ly and Alyssa Michener for projects ranging from large-format studies of architecture to video installation; investigations of minority stereotypes, and a film exploring intimate partner violence.  Junior Christina Macauley was awarded the VCUarts Dean’s Scholarship in Photography + Film for the 2017-18 academic year, and Junior Jessica Taylor received the Etta and Bernie Edwards Endowment for the Arts in Visual Arts for the 2017-18

 

At the BFA Senior Thesis Photography exhibition, awards for Outstanding Sophomore, Junior and Senior were made to Alex Coyle (Photo Senior), Haley Harrington (Photo Junior) and Daniel Disgranados (Photo Sophomore).  These awards are based on faculty nominations for outstanding leadership, integrity, and involvement in the department.  Also receiving awards were Seniors Hei Hei and Devin Hein, for “Independent Spirit” and Amarise Carreras for Best in Show.  Every year also at the Senior Thesis Photography exhibition 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 Austin Aviles, Monica Escamilla, Shannon Lowe and Becca Schwartz. 

 

Outstanding Awards in Film were announced TODAY, following the BFA Senior Thesis screening at the Grace St. Theater. These awards for Outstanding Sophomore, Junior and Senior were made to Emily Rund (Film Senior), Julian McBain (Film Junior) and Jessica Casey (Film Sophomore).  Best in Show was awarded to Senior Carly Harman.

 

In other news, this spring Jon-Phillip Sheridan led a class of 45 Art, Biology and Engineering students exploring how artists can be leaders in fostering interdisciplinary research in the area of sustainable, and more specifically building green walls and improving urban ecologies. The students divided up into 6 groups that designed and executed their own green wall – you can read more about this exciting project here.

My four-years-in-progress documentary feature film on the America photographer Garry Winogrand had a successful Kickstarter campaign and was invited to participate in Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival Deal Maker Pitch sessions, where we met with interested broadcasters and distributors from around the world, including our Canadian partner, Films We Like.  The film wrapped principal production in April due in no small part to the contributions by Line Producer and Film BFA alum Tyler Kirby, whose  Departure Point Films, co-founded with MFA alum Janelle Proulx, is making waves as a Richmond-based production company.

KUDOS:

Congrats to Graduate Director Paul Thulin whose work is included in two upcoming group exhibitions, at theDenver Month of Photography and the Belo Horizonte International Photography Festival in Brazil.  Justin James Reed’s work with collective Piece of Cake was included in For Freedoms at the Aperture Foundation in New York; Justin was also included in Paradise Out-Front at the Southern Gallery, named one of the Ten Best Photo Exhibitions of Winter 2017 by American Photo Magazine.  The Tate Museum has invited Assistant Professor John Freyer to be the first U.S. Tate Associate for the 2017/2018 Tate Exchange Program.  While there, Freyer will complete a week long social practice art work in the newly opened Switch House expansion at the Tate Modern in London.  We are hot in London!  Assistant Professor Mark Boulos is publishing a monograph survey with Hatje Cantz, with a book launch in London’s Whitechapel Gallery upcoming in June.  Mark also has a solo show upcoming Galerie Stigter van Doesburg in Amsterdam.  Alyssa Salomon’s solo show Animal Land opened at Candela Gallery on May – you can see it through June 24th and it is not to be missed!  Animal Land explores the nocturnal landscape and the feral beauty hidden within heavily developed places along the East Coast corridor. Shannon Castleman’s “Tree Wounds” series of photographs has been included in a book The Word for World is Still Forest; Will Connally presented his work at the National Society for Photographic Education Conference in Orlando in March.  Will also has work featured in a group show, Interdisciplinarium, from June-October at the Arlington Arts Center.

 

Three cheers for our incredible students and alumni as well!  Graduating with her MFA this month, Roxana Azar has a solo exhibition opening at Skylab Gallery in Columbus, OH in June 2017, as well as work included in a show at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center this summer.  MFA graduate Katya Yakubov screened her films this past year at Microscope Gallery, Alchemy Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival and Portland Underground Film Festival among other venues, while MFA Desiree Kapler’s film, Ode to the Port, screened at the Dallas VideoFest and the Crossroads Film Fest in Jackson, MS.  Desiree will also begin a position as a digital art teacher at Warren Central HS in Vicksburg, MS, in August.  Current MFA student Stephanie Dowda exhibited Traces, a solo exhibition at White Space Gallery in Atlanta; exhibited work at the Capital One Campus in Virginia for their annual University Columbine exhibition, and will be part of a group exhibition with Atlanta’s Mint Gallery, opening May 26th, 2017

 

The VCU Qatar Fellowship Program is awarded to one recent BFA graduate who has made an outstanding contribution to their program on the Richmond campus, and this year we are thrilled to congratulate BFA in Photo, 2017, Austin Aviles! Austin will spend nine months on the VCUQ campus with 24-hour access to maker studios, a stipend and an apartment, while works in the digital print studio and continues his own artistic pursuits.  Rising Film senior Allie Meagher had her abstract for “Humans of Color: Portrayals of Minorities and People of Color in Humans of New York,” accepted from more than 4,000 submissions for presentation in April at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Memphis; Meredith Brindley and Shannon Lowe were selected to represent VCUarts at the Alliance for the Arts in Research Student Summit in Gainesville earlier this year.  HATS OFF to all!

 

Students & alumni please send me your news, always.

 

IN CLOSING:

 

As you may know, VCU has kicked off a huge Capital Campaign.  If you are considering a gift, even a small one of $10 or $20, please direct it to the Department of Photography + Film where you know we will put it to great use, helping to fund Senior Project Grants, Outstanding Awards, in-class visiting artist workshops and, of course, pizza for Open Nite among other worthy causes.  Better still, 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!

 

 

Sasha


LETTER FROM THE CHAIR: DECEMBER 2016

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

We hope many of you were able to attend OPEN NITE on Friday, December 9th from 5-9pm – the student art work and spirit of celebration were fantastic.  Please keep read on and help us celebrate the many accomplishments of our students, faculty and alumni!

NEWS:

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 2017 Summer Studio is our beloved faculty, Justin James Reed. Please see our website for a full list of visiting and associated faculty.

Also in the news, we are excited to let you know about the VCU Production Club, started by Film Juniors Connor GilloolyVic Kee and Greer Meagher. The Production Club facilitates creative collaboration between film, theatre, dance and other arts majors at VCU and has 97 members.  Check out their FB page to learn more or get involved.

In October, our enterprising MFA students participated in Richmond’s first ever art fair, Current, with own satellite pop-up fair, Current Elements, held inside and around a U-Haul truck and focused on ephemeral and experimental works that might not have an obvious “market” value.  So cool.  We love those guys!

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Letter from The Chair: August 2016

VCUarts Photo + Film Berlin: Studio & City class, summer 2016

VCUarts Photo + Film Berlin: Studio & City class, summer 2016

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!

 

NEWS:

Our first Summer Study Abroad Program (see picture above) in Berlin was a smashing success!  One that will continue in 2017.  Led by technology and art guru of the department, Matthew Warren, students in this 4-week, 6-credit Berlin: Studio & City course were immersed in the diverse contemporary art community of this most vibrant of cities.  Students spent their time both in the studio, exploring their own independently-driven visual ideas and artistic goals, and outside, discovering the city’s museums, galleries and professional artist spaces.  Stay tuned for future announcements about how to apply for 2017.

Another first: our Summer Studio Program here in Richmond for post-baccalaureate degree holders to refine their practice and portfolios.  For four intense weeks, led by faculty Justin James Reed, our 8 SSP students engaged with artists, critics, curators and gallerists from the region and beyond. At the end of the four weeks, the SSP students – from Boston, Iowa, Brooklyn and Kentucky among other places – mounted Guest Privileges, a show of new works created during Sumer Studio that included photographic, film and multi-media works at VCUarts’ Depot Gallery.  Since then, two of the artists who met in SSP, Lara Mossler and Leticia Bernaus, have begun collaborating, and Lara’s SSP project was written up in VICE Magazine!

The department and faculty are delighted to welcome Assistant Professor and video artist to Mark Boulos who has joined us following his Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.   Mark will be teaching the Film Seniors as they commence on their year-long thesis projects and working with the Graduate MFA students in Grad Studio.  He is also the recipient of a 2017 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, an innovative, research-based artist residency program at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

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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!

NEWS:

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.

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Letter from the chair: December 2015 newsletter

 

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

OPEN NIGHT is this FRIDAY, December 11th from 5-8pm!  The Department of Photography + Film and the Design Departments of Pollak invite you enjoy total sensory immersion in the works of our BFA and MFA students throughout the building, located at 325 N. Harrison Street. Please keep read on and help us celebrate the many accomplishments of our students, faculty and alumni!

NEWS:

In January, we will begin accepting applications for the first-ever Summer Studio Program in Photography, Film + New Media.  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 arts experience.  The lead instructor for 2016 Summer Studio is our beloved faculty, Justin James Reed. Please see our website for a full list of visiting and associated faculty.

This fall, our graduate MFA students worked closely with our affiliated faculty, acclaimed photographerWilliam Lamson, and our Visiting Artist-in-Residence, Nir Evron, whose semester here was made possible with the support of the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art and VCU Global Education.  We also hosted filmmakerRoger Beebe with help from the fine folks at Candela Books + Gallery, and photographer Christian Patterson, as well as multimedia artist Daphne Fitzpatrick (co-sponsored with Sculpture).  Nancy Buirski, Producer of the upcoming feature film Loving, visited the Film Senior Thesis class, along with Loving dialect coach, Samara Bay, on the day the film wrapped production in Richmond.

I am pleased to announce the members of our department-wide Student Advisory CouncilDrew ScottJessica Taylor, Alex Coyle, Alyssa Michener, Jessica Carey and Liesa Collins.  These students were nominated to represent their class and major based on their community engagement, communication skills and leadership potential, and I look forward to continuing my conversation with them in the spring.

Our popular VCUarts Film Camp for rising 6th-8th graders will run June 13-24, 2016.  For all those creative middle-schoolers in your life, registration forms will be available on our website in mid-January 2016.

SAVE THE DATES:

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Letter from the Chair

 

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 for “Save the Date” info for upcoming events and for our extensive list of students, faculty and alumni to celebrate and congratulate for their recent awards and honors!

NEWS:

We are thrilled to announce that our search for a new full-time faculty member was a success!  Boston-born, Geneva-based artist Mark Boulos will join us in August of 2016, following his year long Rome Prize Fellowshipat the American Academy in Rome.   Mark’s solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in 2012 described his documentary video installations as “Drawn to the extreme states of political militancy and religious ecstasy.”  In Mark’s own view, his works “oscillate between fiction and non-fiction, or between mythology and history.”  In the 2015-16 year, we are thrilled to announce as Affiliated Visiting Faculty New York artists William Lamson, IraEduardovna and Beth Campbell, and Tel Aviv photo and video artist NirEvron.

Our successful VCU Film Camp for middle schoolers in June made it possible for us to purchase four pocket Black Magic Cinema cameras, now available in Equipment checkout. Other new additions include a Lumix 14mm pancake lens, a new portable flag kit, three more video projectors and four flash meters for studio lighting.  We are also transitioning to a swipe-card system for 24/7 lab entry!!! NO more keys from the police station (and no more propping open of doors after hours, please).

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Letter from the Chair

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

I write to share highlights of the Spring 2015 semester and some of our plans for the next academic year.  CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE GRADUATING SENIORS!!!  YOU DID IT!!!  Please keep reading to see the many students, faculty and alumni to whom I say “Hats Off!” for your recent awards and honors.

NEWS:

First, I am honored to announce that All Things are Photographable, my feature documentary film about the American photographer Garry Winogrand, has recently been awarded a Media Arts production grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A five day shoot in New York in August will launch the production, so you’ll be sure to hear more about this project in the fall.

In Fall 2014, VCU offered a service learning course titled Social Practice in the Museum, which was taught by VCUarts alumni Michael Lease and Traci Garland. The course brought together twelve students from the VCUarts departments of Art History and Photography & Film to work with the local Church Hill community. These students partnered up with students from University of Richmond and Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT), and The Valentine Museum. Together, they explored their own creative ambitions as they captured residents’ stories of Church Hill and how its transformation over the years has impacted them and their community. The end result is the exhibition Made in Church Hill, on view at The Valentine Museum NOW, Today! Through June 28th, 2015.

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Letter From the Chair

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

A beautifully lensed and designed VCU Police Calendar are on sale at the campus Barnes & Noble!  This collaboration between the Department of Photography + Film and the VCU Police raises awareness around issues of campus safety and sexual harassment. Sales proceeds will go to the YWCA of Richmond and student scholarships, so please pick one up THURSDAY or later – it’s a great holiday gift!  Congratulations to Photo major Nick Seitz and Graphic Design major John Sampson for having their concept and design selected and each earning a $500 scholarship!

This past fall, our graduate MFA students worked closely with our affiliated faculty, the photo conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas.  Hank hosted our eight MFAs on a three-day art tour of New York in October, an opportunity fully funded by VCUarts.  In Spring 2015, we look forward to the MFAs working with and being hosted by affiliated faculty Laurel Nakadate, video artist, photographer and filmmaker, best known for her 2009 SundanceFilm festival feature Stay the Same, Never Change.  We also look forward to visits from artists Brian Bress and Paul Harrill – whose feature Something, Anything, opens theatrically in New York in January 2015 – and award-winning filmmaker Jem Cohen.

As always, all of our events are free and open to the public, so please check the department web or FB pages for details on future programming.

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Welcome Back & Lots of NEWS

still from 2014 senior Nils Westergard‘s amazing film, Wallflower

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

The Department of Photography and Film’s first ever Study Abroad program, Experimental & Documentary Arts in Sicily, was a terrific success, bringing together students in photo, film and mass communications with students from the VCUarts Dance Department for four weeks of work, play and creative exploration in beautiful Noto, Sicily.  The vast majority of students surveyed by the VCU Global Education Office reported that the trip dramatically impacted their interpersonal skills, adaptability and expanded their cultural perspectives.  Stay tuned for updates on our plans for Summer 2015.

With the departure of Brian Ulrich for RISD this fall, we are running a search for a new faculty member with expertise and a national reputation in photography, video art, installation-based practice and/or multi-media/hybrid uses of digital media in the fine arts.  The position announcement will be made public in early September and we expect to host our finalists for public talks in Spring 2014.  In the meantime, courtesy of the hardest working Graduate Director at VCU, Paul Thulin, we are thrilled to announce that contemporary artist and photographer Hank Willis Thomas, winner of the first ever Aperture West Book Prize for his monograph Pitch Blackness, will join us as Affiliated Faculty in the Fall 2014 semester to work with the MFA students and host them during a trip to New York City.

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Letter from Department Chair Sasha Waters Freyer

 

May 23, 2013
Dear students, teachers, alumni and friends of the Department of Photography & Film at VCUarts,

I write to share highlights of the Spring 2013 semester, my first as Chair, and my hopes and goals for the next academic year. Please read all the way down to see the many students, faculty and alumni to whom I say “Hats Off!” for your recent awards and honors!

NEWS:

Our awesome spring visitors were the icing on the cake of a very busy semester, among them photographer Chris Verene and LaToya Ruby Frazier, curators Wesley Miller, Larissa LeClaire and Hannah Frieser, filmmaker David Gatten, in collaboration with the James River Film Festival, and filmmaker Alexis Bravos, who served as this year’s Juror for the wildly fun & successful VCU Student Film Festival, organized by Jennida Chase and her Sensational Sophomores. Thank you Paul Thulin for facilitating, and to all instructors and students for welcoming our guests. I heart all whom attended the College Art Association conference in New York (February) and the Society for Photographic Education conference in Chicago (March). It was swell to bond with our peers and pals in the big cities and do outreach and recruitment together.

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