Filter Photo Interview: Paul Berlanga


Pictus Interuptus, 1980, Ray Metzker

Paul Berlanga studied humanities at the University of Illinois in the 1970s. In 1997, Berlanga became Director of the Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago. The gallery offers a range of work but specializes in vintage photographs, with an emphasis on modernist experimental and social documentary subject matter.  As director he chose artists to represent and curated exhibitions.  He has written and edited texts for gallery catalogues and related publications, his favorite of which was the 2008 PowerHouse monograph Wayne Miller Photographs 1942-1958.

Since 2011 Berlanga has been engaged with his own venture, Berlanga Fine Art & Photographs, which offers examples of interesting and beautiful photography, as well as other works on paper, and special books.  Berlanga also represents a select group of classic and emerging photographers, and recently added the works of Vivian Maier to his inventory.  He has written for outside publications, such as the article on Sandro Miller’s Atropa Black, in the spring 2012 issue of the Amsterdam-based Eyemazing Magazine. That same year Berlanga spent a week in Havana, Cuba on independent assignment as general editor of a forthcoming book on a collection of contemporary Cuban photography; his duties included advising on acquisitions. In June of 2012 he moderated an on-stage discussion between two accomplished photographers, the Spaniard Jordi Socias, and the American Stephen Schapiro, at the Instituto Cervantes in Chicago.


Interview by W. Tanner Young


425 S. Wabash (Looking East), Chicago, 2013, Brad Temkin

W Tanner Young: Your primary interests include over 20 years of experience with publishing and selling photo books - which is quite in vogue as of late (not least of which is Filter Photo’s 1st Photo Book show!). I’m sure many attendees will bring their books to portfolio reviews. Could you tell me what you look for and appreciate when looking at photo books, and if you review these differently than portfolio prints?

Paul Berlanga: I crave originality. Regarding either books or portfolios, that is the primary requirement. Following that, is quality of execution. I join others in the field in recommending that if the artist is going to self-publish, he or she needs to hold their printing house to the highest possible standards. In books, I look first for content, then for the quality of the reproduction, the quality of the design of the book, the weight and finish of the paper stock, as well as what kind of care has gone into the binding. I try to look at each portfolio print as if it’s the only work of art I’m going to see that day.



WTY: Berlanga Fine Art – which you’ll be representing as a reviewer for this year’s festival –  includes contemporary mixed-media and experimental photo artists, while Daiter Gallery’s primary interests lie in vintage prints and avant garde, experimental, documentary and photojournalistic techniques. Is there a particular aesthetic you’re interested in or prefer to review?

PB: I think art can have power while at the same time exhibiting beauty and elegance. I would call myself a classicist with an edge.


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All images by Maggie Meiners
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maggie Meiners has been a supporter of Filter Photo for years; she currently serves as Secretary on our Board of Directors. Its hard to imagine a Filter Photo Festival without her there, like so many other fantastic people who have helped shape and grow our organization, and we hope we don’t have to imagine for a long, long time! But beyond that, Meiners is also a talented and thoughtful photographer. The two series above, Rock On ! Nostalgia Reframed, and I Hear With My Eyes, focus of different subjects, but both show an inherent interest with the idea of perception.
For Rock On, Meiners revisits Norman Rockwell and the “Golden Age” of America, reexamining ideas and social perceptions of what was, what was lost, and what was never there, drawing comparisons to modern day scenarios. In I Hear With My Eyes, Meiners explores the idea of perception, literally. Drawing on her life-long hearing disabilities, she shows us the world of patterns, body language and social cues she had to adapt to as a child, to fit in with the world around her.
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  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
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  • 1/40th
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All images by Maggie Meiners
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maggie Meiners has been a supporter of Filter Photo for years; she currently serves as Secretary on our Board of Directors. Its hard to imagine a Filter Photo Festival without her there, like so many other fantastic people who have helped shape and grow our organization, and we hope we don’t have to imagine for a long, long time! But beyond that, Meiners is also a talented and thoughtful photographer. The two series above, Rock On ! Nostalgia Reframed, and I Hear With My Eyes, focus of different subjects, but both show an inherent interest with the idea of perception.
For Rock On, Meiners revisits Norman Rockwell and the “Golden Age” of America, reexamining ideas and social perceptions of what was, what was lost, and what was never there, drawing comparisons to modern day scenarios. In I Hear With My Eyes, Meiners explores the idea of perception, literally. Drawing on her life-long hearing disabilities, she shows us the world of patterns, body language and social cues she had to adapt to as a child, to fit in with the world around her.
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  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
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All images by Maggie Meiners
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maggie Meiners has been a supporter of Filter Photo for years; she currently serves as Secretary on our Board of Directors. Its hard to imagine a Filter Photo Festival without her there, like so many other fantastic people who have helped shape and grow our organization, and we hope we don’t have to imagine for a long, long time! But beyond that, Meiners is also a talented and thoughtful photographer. The two series above, Rock On ! Nostalgia Reframed, and I Hear With My Eyes, focus of different subjects, but both show an inherent interest with the idea of perception.
For Rock On, Meiners revisits Norman Rockwell and the “Golden Age” of America, reexamining ideas and social perceptions of what was, what was lost, and what was never there, drawing comparisons to modern day scenarios. In I Hear With My Eyes, Meiners explores the idea of perception, literally. Drawing on her life-long hearing disabilities, she shows us the world of patterns, body language and social cues she had to adapt to as a child, to fit in with the world around her.
Zoom Info
  • Camera
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  • Focal Length
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • 100
  • f/16
  • 1/125th
  • 58mm
All images by Maggie Meiners
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maggie Meiners has been a supporter of Filter Photo for years; she currently serves as Secretary on our Board of Directors. Its hard to imagine a Filter Photo Festival without her there, like so many other fantastic people who have helped shape and grow our organization, and we hope we don’t have to imagine for a long, long time! But beyond that, Meiners is also a talented and thoughtful photographer. The two series above, Rock On ! Nostalgia Reframed, and I Hear With My Eyes, focus of different subjects, but both show an inherent interest with the idea of perception.
For Rock On, Meiners revisits Norman Rockwell and the “Golden Age” of America, reexamining ideas and social perceptions of what was, what was lost, and what was never there, drawing comparisons to modern day scenarios. In I Hear With My Eyes, Meiners explores the idea of perception, literally. Drawing on her life-long hearing disabilities, she shows us the world of patterns, body language and social cues she had to adapt to as a child, to fit in with the world around her.
Zoom Info
  • Camera
  • ISO
  • Aperture
  • Exposure
  • Focal Length
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • 400
  • f/4.5
  • 1/60th
  • 85mm
All images by Maggie Meiners
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maggie Meiners has been a supporter of Filter Photo for years; she currently serves as Secretary on our Board of Directors. Its hard to imagine a Filter Photo Festival without her there, like so many other fantastic people who have helped shape and grow our organization, and we hope we don’t have to imagine for a long, long time! But beyond that, Meiners is also a talented and thoughtful photographer. The two series above, Rock On ! Nostalgia Reframed, and I Hear With My Eyes, focus of different subjects, but both show an inherent interest with the idea of perception.
For Rock On, Meiners revisits Norman Rockwell and the “Golden Age” of America, reexamining ideas and social perceptions of what was, what was lost, and what was never there, drawing comparisons to modern day scenarios. In I Hear With My Eyes, Meiners explores the idea of perception, literally. Drawing on her life-long hearing disabilities, she shows us the world of patterns, body language and social cues she had to adapt to as a child, to fit in with the world around her.
Zoom Info
  • Camera
  • ISO
  • Aperture
  • Exposure
  • Focal Length
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • 400
  • f/4.5
  • 1/60th
  • 90mm

All images by Maggie Meiners

Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series

Maggie Meiners has been a supporter of Filter Photo for years; she currently serves as Secretary on our Board of Directors. Its hard to imagine a Filter Photo Festival without her there, like so many other fantastic people who have helped shape and grow our organization, and we hope we don’t have to imagine for a long, long time! But beyond that, Meiners is also a talented and thoughtful photographer. The two series above, Rock On ! Nostalgia Reframed, and I Hear With My Eyes, focus of different subjects, but both show an inherent interest with the idea of perception.

For Rock On, Meiners revisits Norman Rockwell and the “Golden Age” of America, reexamining ideas and social perceptions of what was, what was lost, and what was never there, drawing comparisons to modern day scenarios. In I Hear With My Eyes, Meiners explores the idea of perception, literally. Drawing on her life-long hearing disabilities, she shows us the world of patterns, body language and social cues she had to adapt to as a child, to fit in with the world around her.

museumuesum:

Peter Fischli & David Weiss

The Equilibres

Outlaws, 1984, C-print, 13 x 9 1/4 inches

Afternoons Nap, 1986, gelatin silver print, 9 1/4 x 13 inches

Monument, 1984, C-print, 9 1/4 x 13 inches;

International Style, 1984, C-print, 13 x 9 1/4 inches

The Secret of the Pyramids, 1986, C-print, 13 x 9 1/4 inches

Honor, Courage, Confidence, 1984, gelatin silver print, 13 x 9 1/4 inches

As Far As It Goes, 1986, C-print, 13 3/4 x 10 1/4 inches

Quiet Afternoon, 1984, C-print, 13 x 9 1/4 inches

Ben Hur, 1984, gelatin silver print, 9 1/4 x 13 inches

hyperallergic:

(via Unraveling the Mystery of a Couple’s Life in Photographs)
CHICAGO — Large, bright photographs currently fill Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, printed from Kodachrome slides that date to the 1950s and ’60s. The photographs were curated by artist Jeff Phillips but feature subjects unrelated to him — he stumbled upon the slides in 2011 at a second-hand store in St. Louis. Lost and Found: The Search for Harry and Edna features a selection from the 30 boxes of slides Phillips discovered then: over 1,000 images of party scenes, faraway vacations, family photographs. Two subjects appear as the common thread, an older, well-dressed couple rarely photographed together, but individually posed in many of the shots.
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Big congrats to our friend and long-time advisor Jeff Phillips for his great show at Intuit Art Center. Read a review of Lost and Found: The Search for Harry and Edna on the art blog Hyperallergic, and see the show before it comes down on August 30!

hyperallergic:

(via Unraveling the Mystery of a Couple’s Life in Photographs)

CHICAGO — Large, bright photographs currently fill Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, printed from Kodachrome slides that date to the 1950s and ’60s. The photographs were curated by artist Jeff Phillips but feature subjects unrelated to him — he stumbled upon the slides in 2011 at a second-hand store in St. Louis. Lost and Found: The Search for Harry and Edna features a selection from the 30 boxes of slides Phillips discovered then: over 1,000 images of party scenes, faraway vacations, family photographs. Two subjects appear as the common thread, an older, well-dressed couple rarely photographed together, but individually posed in many of the shots.

READ MORE

Big congrats to our friend and long-time advisor Jeff Phillips for his great show at Intuit Art Center. Read a review of Lost and Found: The Search for Harry and Edna on the art blog Hyperallergic, and see the show before it comes down on August 30!

Filter Photo Interview: Lisa Janes


Untitled, 2013, Adam Holtzman

Lisa Janes is the new owner and director of Alibi Fine Art, a gallery specializing in unusual and overlooked works by emerging and mid-career photographers. Janes has a BA in Art (2002) and a background in commercial photography. Alibi Fine Art is a photography gallery located in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago; established July, 2010.

Interview by Julie Weber


Wishbone, 2012, Allison Barnes

 

Julie Weber: Tell me a little about yourself and your career in photography. You have a background in commercial photography – what kind of work?

Lisa Janes: I studied art in college, and then went on to complete a professional photography program with a focus on product photography.  After school, I directed what I had learned into portrait and wedding work.  I did freelance photography for several years before taking over the gallery.

 

JW: As owner and director of Alibi Fine Art, what are the major benefits and challenges of your role?

LJ: I particularly enjoy the selection and curatorial aspects of the job.  Since I don’t have a staff, my challenge is juggling multiple roles at once.

JW: What would you say is the most common manner by which you are exposed to new work?

LJ:  Word of mouth and chance seem to be almost as effective as actively seeking it out; meeting people and making connections works for me.

JW: What is your philosophy behind running the gallery?

LJ: Respect for the work itself was the impetus behind doing this in the first place.  To that end, having a good relationship with the artists is my priority.

JW: Are there any projects you are currently working on or preparing for that you would like to talk about?

LJ: Yes, our upcoming show is a solo installation by S. Gayle Stevens.  Disappearance is a unique installation of collodion photographs set against a backdrop of natural elements.  It is a reaction to colony collapse disorder and deforestation.  For this particular project, Stevens has partnered with Jana Kinsman (of Bike a Bee) to document her bees.  A percentage of the proceeds of the bee photographs will go to Bike a Bee.  The show opens on September 6 and runs through October 25, so it will be up during the 2014 Filter Photo Festival. There will be an artist talk during the opening reception on September 6 at 6:30 pm. It is going to be an exciting event.


Image by S. Gayle Stevens

JW: What factors determine the value of a photograph to you?

LJ: Intrinsically, the craft itself and the strength of the ideas.

JW: What do you see as being in store for the medium of photography, or what do you hope to see?

LJ: I hope to see a continued interest in analog and antiquated processes alongside improvements in digital technology.

JW: What contemporary artists have captivated your interest of late?

LJ: Joseph Jachna, Mark Steinmetz, Alex Webb, and Lisa Oppenheim. I just saw Paul Gaffney’s photo book at Review Santa Fe in July, and I have been thinking about it since.  Meg Griffiths also impressed me at Review.  Also, I’m always keeping an eye on Sally Mann.  In fact, today I was looking at What Remains.

JW: When conducting portfolio reviews, what are your criteria? What especially interests you?

LJ: I have attended portfolio reviews, but this will be the first one I’ve conducted.  I am looking for work that presents a challenge in some way – it could be technical or philosophical in nature.  I am looking for work that is unique and honest.

JW: Any advice you’d like to offer Filter Photo attendees when preparing for portfolio reviews?

LJ: Be brave. Show the work you want to show, not what you think we want to see.

Filter Photo Interview: Susan Burnstine

image
Michigan & Monroe, 6:42 AM, Susan Burnstine

Susan Burnstine is an award-winning fine art photographer and journalist. She is best known for constructing her own cameras and lenses, used to create dramatic black and white images that illustrate her dreams.  Susan has written for many photography publications, including a monthly column for Black & White Photography Magazine (UK).   

We’re thrilled to welcome her to Filter Photo Festival 2014 as a portfolio reviewer and to present her sold-out workshop, Defining the Personal Narrative with Susan Burnstine.

Interview by Jeff Phillips

 image
Circuitous, Susan Burnstine

Jeff Phillips:  Your best-known bodies of work – Absence of Being, On Waking Dreams, Between, Flight, and Instinct – all share a surreal, dreamlike quality.  What inspires you to create images with this aesthetic?   

Susan Burnstine: The inspiration for my work goes back to when I was four years old and suffered a severe trauma that resulted in intense night terrors. My parents had no idea how to cope with my condition for the first two years, but then around the age of six my mother (who was an artist and musician) happened upon the idea of teaching me to draw and paint images from my night terrors from the night before.

 The process of recreating these dreams through art helped eliminate some of the paralyzing fear I lived with, and thus, it was a practice that stuck through childhood.

The nightmares lessened over the years. But when my mother died tragically and unnecessarily in my early 30’s, they came flooding back. I needed a way to cope with and process my loss and the night terrors haunting me, so for several years, I attempted to journal my dreams and nightmares from the night before, then go out and photograph them the next morning. For the first few years, I tried every conventional camera known to mankind, but was unable to communicate how I saw my dreams in that way. After a friend gave me a Holga to play with and the ethereal, unpredictable style of the camera intrigued me so I experimented with toy cameras for sometime.

 

JP:  At some point you realized that the only way to express your dreams was to build your own camera.  Homemade lenses followed thereafter. What the reasoning behind this? 

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All Images by Maria Rebelo
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maria Rebelo’s photographic interests lie in the beauty of the overlooked and the magic of light. Her street photography looks at our often-ignored surroundings, the actual street, recording the formal qualities of lines and shapes, shadows and patterns. And then, taking the same approach, she explores the smaller things in life, contrasting the hard lines of the street with ethereal images of the simplest and smallest things. The delicate nature of these organic forms are enlarged and enhanced through macro photography and the subtle play of light.
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  • Nikon D800
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All Images by Maria Rebelo
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maria Rebelo’s photographic interests lie in the beauty of the overlooked and the magic of light. Her street photography looks at our often-ignored surroundings, the actual street, recording the formal qualities of lines and shapes, shadows and patterns. And then, taking the same approach, she explores the smaller things in life, contrasting the hard lines of the street with ethereal images of the simplest and smallest things. The delicate nature of these organic forms are enlarged and enhanced through macro photography and the subtle play of light.
Zoom Info
  • Camera
  • Nikon D800
All Images by Maria Rebelo
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maria Rebelo’s photographic interests lie in the beauty of the overlooked and the magic of light. Her street photography looks at our often-ignored surroundings, the actual street, recording the formal qualities of lines and shapes, shadows and patterns. And then, taking the same approach, she explores the smaller things in life, contrasting the hard lines of the street with ethereal images of the simplest and smallest things. The delicate nature of these organic forms are enlarged and enhanced through macro photography and the subtle play of light.
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  • Nikon D800
  • 400
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All Images by Maria Rebelo
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maria Rebelo’s photographic interests lie in the beauty of the overlooked and the magic of light. Her street photography looks at our often-ignored surroundings, the actual street, recording the formal qualities of lines and shapes, shadows and patterns. And then, taking the same approach, she explores the smaller things in life, contrasting the hard lines of the street with ethereal images of the simplest and smallest things. The delicate nature of these organic forms are enlarged and enhanced through macro photography and the subtle play of light.
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  • Nikon D5000
  • 200
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All Images by Maria Rebelo
Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series
Maria Rebelo’s photographic interests lie in the beauty of the overlooked and the magic of light. Her street photography looks at our often-ignored surroundings, the actual street, recording the formal qualities of lines and shapes, shadows and patterns. And then, taking the same approach, she explores the smaller things in life, contrasting the hard lines of the street with ethereal images of the simplest and smallest things. The delicate nature of these organic forms are enlarged and enhanced through macro photography and the subtle play of light.
Zoom Info
  • Camera
  • ISO
  • Aperture
  • Exposure
  • Focal Length
  • Nikon D5000
  • 800
  • f/5.3
  • 1/320th
  • 45mm

All Images by Maria Rebelo

Review by W. Tanner Young as part of the featured Filter Member Photo Set Series

Maria Rebelo’s photographic interests lie in the beauty of the overlooked and the magic of light. Her street photography looks at our often-ignored surroundings, the actual street, recording the formal qualities of lines and shapes, shadows and patterns. And then, taking the same approach, she explores the smaller things in life, contrasting the hard lines of the street with ethereal images of the simplest and smallest things. The delicate nature of these organic forms are enlarged and enhanced through macro photography and the subtle play of light.

Filter Photo Interview: Karen Haas


Criss-Crossed Conveyors - Ford Plant, 1927, Charles Sheeler

Karen Haas has been the Lane Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston since 2001, where she is responsible for a large collection of photographs by American modernists, Charles Sheeler, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Imogen Cunningham. The Lane Collection, which has recently been given to the Museum, numbers more than 6,000 prints and ranges across the entire history of western photography from William Henry Fox Talbot to the Starn twins. Before coming to the MFA, she received her MA from Boston University and held various curatorial positions in museums and private collections, including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the BU Art Gallery, and the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover.

For this post, we asked Filter Friend, Columbia College Grad, and former fellow-Bostonian Jess T. Dugan to interview Karen Haas.


Charis and Our Camp, Galveston, Texas, 1941, Edward Weston

 

Jess T. Dugan: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you become interested in photography? Was there a particular moment of discovery or inspiration?

Karen Haas: I fell in love with the history of photography as a graduate student at Boston University and studied there with Carl Chiarenza, a really inspirational professor and photographer. Having caught the photo “bug” I never really looked back and have been lucky enough to work with photographs – particularly the amazing Lane Collection at the MFA, Boston – ever since. It is an incredible luxury to be able to study almost the entire oeuvre of a photographer like Sheeler or Weston, which is possible thanks to the very broad and deep holdings of works collected during the 1960s and 70s by William and Saundra Lane directly from the artists’ families.

 

JTD: Is there a particular aesthetic or subject matter you like to review?

KH: I am happy to review any type of photography and I enjoy the challenge of that, but am especially drawn to figural work and creative approaches to the American landscape. I am less knowledgeable about the field of photojournalism but very interested in the photograph as social document and tool for change.

JTD: The field of photography is changing rapidly, though arguably it has been doing so constantly since its invention. Do you see any current trends or developments in the field that you are particularly excited about?

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Filter Photo Interview: Lisa Woodward




Sharon, 2012, Julie Renee Jones

Lisa Woodward is the curator at Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, Indiana. Although a relatively young gallery, Pictura has gained a reputation for its nuanced exhibits and has come into the public eye as a thoughtful new venue for emerging and established artists. The gallery specializes in contemporary photography, focusing on work with strong formal craftsmanship and depth of content. Woodward currently serves as a portfolio reviewer for photography conferences and festivals such as Fotofest, Photolucida, SPE, and the International Center for Photography. She also serves as a guest critic for university classrooms and conducts studio visits at various MFA programs. Woodward has curated over 20 photographic exhibitions at Pictura, including MANMADE, Tiksi, and Fables + Fictions. She is an alumnus of the Rhode Island School of Design’s photography program.



Interview by Julie Weber


Worth The Wait, Nate Larson + Marni Shindelman

Julie Weber: You have been curating at Pictura Gallery for 4 years. What do you enjoy most about your role and what do you find most challenging?

Lisa Woodward: Mia Dalglish co-curates with me, which makes curating an ongoing, fascinating collegial conversation. We are able to sift through so much work and there are still projects that have the capacity to astonish me. Making a photographic project that hits all the markers – something provoking and beautiful, meaningful, entrancing, genuine, and perfectly crafted – this is really hard to achieve. And then sometimes, people achieve it. The largest challenge in my role is to discover the projects that actually do this. When I find a project that I can really get behind and come to believe in, then forming an exhibition is an honor, and promoting and sharing the intricacies of the work with others is a sort of natural, even evangelical act. There is a lot of joy for me in conveying excellent art to its audience.

 

JW: Pictura’s current exhibition is Geolocation by Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman. Can you talk a bit about the work and how this exhibition came to be at Pictura?

LW: Geolocation has been particularly enjoyable to host. There’s a great “a-ha” moment built into the work. I observe people as they view the exhibit before and after they grasp the concept, and I think it’s been a challenging, and then gratifying art experience for our audience.

We saw this project a few years ago in an earlier stage, I believe at Fotofest in Houston. It was filed into the memory bank under “perceptive cultural investigation,” and we began to watch the artists. Mia and I took a look at the project more recently and were impressed by its growth. Through continual work and fine-tuning, Nate and Marni purified and amplified the impact of their ideas. We were so pleased to invite them to share their project with Bloomington.

JW: Alongside your work at Pictura, you’ve been running your own photography business for just over a decade. What is the most invaluable experience you’ve gained over the years?

LW: I keep my identities as a photographer and a curator in fairly separate boxes. However, having worked as a photographer has given me a healthy respect for just how difficult it can be to sustain your work life and your creative career at the same time. I’ve also learned that there seems to be a proportional relationship between how closely I stick to the integrity of my vision and my clients’ satisfaction. I often find myself encouraging artists with this perspective – don’t get bogged down by what you might think others want. Instead, bring the fullest version of what you have to offer and that may become the very thing they want.


Untitled, 1969, Jerry Uelsmann

JW: What would you consider the most important change that photography has undergone in the last few years?

LW: Camera phones have placed casual photography into the hands and pockets of so many people who might not otherwise make pictures. I sense that visual thinking is on the rise. I wonder if visual literacy is growing along with it, but I’m not sure on this point. When such a quantity of imagery is consumed so quickly, I wonder if we may be losing some of our capacity to be powerfully impacted by a photograph and a slow read.

JW: From your experience reviewing submissions at Pictura, reviewing portfolios at festivals, and from visiting MFA programs, what trends do you see forming in contemporary photography?

LW: Some dominant streams in art photography seem to be flowing naturally in the opposite direction from the ocean of digital imagery. I have seen a block of good work recently, reaching for some kind of slower process – large format film, salt prints, daguerreotypes, and movement towards sculptural thinking and singular objects. Complex conceptual work also seems be on the rise.

JW: Any advice you’d like to offer Filter Photo attendees when preparing for portfolio reviews?

LW: Most reviewers prefer to see actual prints that exemplify your best abilities as a craftsman, even if they are not printed at the intended exhibition size. I look at a lot of work on the screen, so face to face reviews are a chance to assess the quality of your printing. You want to bring your best craftwork in that box. Accepting that your prints may get a wee bit manhandled, it’s still a good practice not to think of them only as work prints.

It can be helpful to begin the review with a short description of the various works that you’ve brought. If you have three projects in the portfolio, then twenty minutes may not be enough time to go through every image. Beginning your review with a preview of options can help the reviewer pace the conversation or hone in on the work that best suits them. Don’t feel like you need to rush through every image. It’s also great to bookend the last part of the review with a sheet of thumbnails from each project. Like flashcards, these can help reviewers solidify what they’ve just seen, and they provide a context to talk about the entire body of work in one view.


Like Daddy, Viktoria Sorochinski

JW: Is there any specific aesthetic or subject matter that you particularly like to review?

LW: I am interested in seeing portfolios that demonstrate a cohesive and carefully edited body of work. I like to see excellent craft, a balance of aesthetic and conceptual concerns, and emotionally moving ideas or cultural challenges. I am open to a wide range of subjects, but I am searching for well-considered ideas in an aesthetically undeniable form.

JW: Any exhibitions you are looking forward to checking out while you are in Chicago for the festival?

LW: I may only have time to sneak in one show, so I am hoping to catch the Steichen exhibit at the Art Institute. Although a trip to Chicago without a visit to the MoCP just wouldn’t feel right.