alumni

Melvin Harper featured in "It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror"

Project for Empty Space is pleased to present It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror, an exhibition in collaboration with the For Freedoms initiative, featuring MFA Photo/Video alumni Melvin Harper. The exhibition was inspired by James Baldwin’s short story "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon," and explores the themes that are still relevant over half a century after Baldwin’s work was published. It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror will be on view through January 2019.

still from  Watch  (Melvin Harper, 2016)

still from Watch (Melvin Harper, 2016)

Baldwin's “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” was published in The Atlantic Monthly, in 1960, and later included in a collection of short stories, “Going to Meet the Man,” this piece follows it’s protagonist through a series of memories and reflections on the eve of his return to the United States after years of living in Paris. As with many of Baldwin's delicate and visceral short stories, the thematic underpinnings of “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” are racism and violence, invisibility and imposed identity, love and loss, pain and precarity, and, perhaps most importantly, the intersections of all of the aforementioned human phenomena. In It is astonishing..., these themes are explored within a contemporary framework.

still from  3017  (Melvin Harper, 2017)

still from 3017 (Melvin Harper, 2017)

Founded in 2016 by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is a platform for creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action. Inspired by American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms’ exhibitions, installations, and public programs use art to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values, and to advocate for equality, dialogue, and civic participation.

Melvin Harper is an English born Creative Art Director and Visual Artist based between Hollywood, Ca, and NYC. His recent exhibitions include: Volta Art Fair, NYC; Art Basel, Miami Beach; and Re: Art, NY.

Yoav Friedlander solo exhibition ‘‘After the Fall’’ at Carrie Able Gallery

Yoav Friedlander, MFA Photo/Video alumni, presents a solo exhibition at the Carrie Able Gallery this month on Wednesday Nov. 14.

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Speaking on his images, Friedlander says:

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"Ever since I can remember it was photographs who introduced me to and informed me of my personal and collective past or present realities that are inaccessible or out of reach. Photographs had visually mapped reality. A broken promise we made to ourselves looking up to the medium as a neutral reflection of what visibly exists. We treat photographs as hard evidence, and to the extent that we find ourselves considering what is real to be different from how it should be according to its own image. Since the inception of photography, reality gradually became augmented by its own reflection. I am focusing my work at this point of friction."

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Yoav Friedlander is a miniature scale model fine artist and photographer. Born 1985 in Israel, Yoav received his BA in Photographic Communications from Hadassah Academic College Jerusalem in 2011, and graduated with an MFA in Photography Video and Related media from the School of Visual Arts NYC in 2014.

Friedlander has shown work at The Artists' House, Jerusalem, The Wassaic Project, N.Y., and The Venice Bienniale, among numerous other galleries, worldwide. He is also the co-founder of Float Photo Magazine.

For more information about Friedlander's upcoming solo exhibition, visit the event page or RSVP here.

©Yoav Friedlander, 201 North Pearl Street, Shamokin, PA, 2018

©Yoav Friedlander, 201 North Pearl Street, Shamokin, PA, 2018

In a write up by Lenscratch, Friedlander when asked about the series and it’s motivations responded by saying”

For now I can’t tell what value my pictures might have, but I took them with a sense of urgency to capture all that was colorful and all that was about to change. One of these pictures documents St. Nicholas Coal Breaker, It also happens to be one the last photograph of it standing. it was torn down the next day. I never had intended to insert myself into American history through the back door like this. It is unclear how I, a child of the desert, found myself venturing into coal mines in the frost of winter.

To read more please click here.

Interior Lives: Contemporary Photographs of Chinese New Yorkers

New York City’s nine predominantly Chinese neighborhoods are home to the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia. Interior Lives features the work of three photographers who have spent years documenting the lives of Chinese New Yorkers: Annie Ling, and An Rong Xu, and MFA Photo/Video alum Thomas Holton.

Thomas Holton,  Chinese Soap Opera , 2004

Thomas Holton, Chinese Soap Opera, 2004

Thomas Holton has followed the trajectory of a single family, the Lams of Ludlow Street, since 2003. Starting as a family of five in a 350-square-foot apartment, the family has changed over the past 15 years, with the growth of the children and the eventual separation of the parents. In an attempt to better understand his own Chinese heritage, Thomas Holton began photographing the streets and the daily rituals of the Chinatown neighborhood. However, what began as a more traditional documentary project in the "street photography" genre developed into a much more intimate exploration of a single family's life spanning a decade. It shows the Asian American immigrant experience as well as it is the exploration of a family's turbulent history, which everyone can relate to regardless of race or religion.

An Rong Xu,  Pell Street , 2011

An Rong Xu, Pell Street, 2011

Other photographers featured in this exhibition include: Annie Ling, who documented the lives of the 35 residents of the fourth floor of 81 Bowery—the “invisible immigrants” who live cramped quarters and work for low wages, and An Rong Xu who navigates his Chinese-American identity with a series of photographs that explore the intersection of “two sometimes polarizing cultures.” Together, the works of these three photographers provide a window into the complex realities of immigrant life in New York City.

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of the City of New York in conjunction with the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), and will be on view from October 26, 2018 - March 24, 2019.

The Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 Fifth Ave at 103rd St. and is open daily from 10am–6pm.

Highlights from Vera Lutter's Ongoing Residency at LACMA

Since February of 2017, New York-based artist and MFA Photo/Video alumni Vera Lutter has been engaged in an ambitious residency at LACMA, making large-scale photographs of LACMA’s campus and collections.

LACMA with YANG NA, 2011-PRESENT, III: March 14, 2017

LACMA with YANG NA, 2011-PRESENT, III: March 14, 2017

African Figure: June 27, 2017

African Figure: June 27, 2017

Lutter's project documents not only exterior views of the buildings on LACMA’s campus that are slated for demolition to make room for a new building for the museum’s permanent collection, but also the interiors of selected galleries to create images that follow in the grand tradition of 19th-century “gallery paintings” of museum interiors. Using her camera obscura method, Lutter has also photographed paintings in LACMA’s permanent collection. Although Lutter has previously photographed classical and modern sculptures, this is her first time using her camera obscura to photograph two-dimensional works of art.

Vera Lutter’s work has been recognized by many periodicals including Artforum, ARTnews, Art in America, BOMB, and The New York Times; as well as books including 100 Contemporary Artists (Taschen), The Photograph as Contemporary Art (Thames & Hudson), and Vitamin Ph: New Perspectives in Photography (Phaidon).

Lutter recently sat down with LACMA CEO Michael Govan and spoke about her ongoing artist residency at LACMA. (Please see the video below.)

To learn more about Lutter's residency visit LACMA Unframed, or Vera Lutter's website for more information.

Barry Salzman Nominated for "Deeper Perspective" Lucie Award

MFA Photo/Video alumni Barry Salzman is in the running for a Lucie Award, for his photographic accounts of post-genocide Rwanda.

The Lucie Awards are held annually, honoring the greatest achievements in photography. Ceremonies this year will take place Sunday October 28 at Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall and will honor other such luminaries as Joyce Tenneson, Shahidul Alam, and Lee Friedlander.

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Speaking on his own nominated work, Salzman states: "I was shooting in Rwanda in April/May 2018 when new mass graves were discovered, almost 25 years after the genocide. My work attempts to challenge the universal fatigue that has set in around the genocide narrative, in large part by engaging the viewer's imagination. This series does that. While it is impossible to imagine 1 million murdered victims, we can readily imagine the life of the little girl in THAT white dress who was clubbed to death or dismembered by a machete-wielding perpetrator.

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I was deeply troubled by the PILES of crumpled clothes from the pits they were excavating, along with human bones and skulls. I needed to see the personal items one by one. Each was a real person. A person that had been at the center of their own life story. As we carefully laid out each piece, still damp from the earth, I found myself imagining that person’s story. In making this work, I thought about the words of philosopher, Georges Didi-Huberman, "Let us not invoke the unimaginable, but instead, force ourselves into that difficult place of imagining."

For information about the awards ceremony, visit the Lucie Awards website. To learn more about Barry Salzman's projects, and to view his work, please visit the artist's website.

"The Candid Frame:" A podcast with Gerald Cyrus

“Jukebox” from: Stormy Monday

“Jukebox” from: Stormy Monday

MFA Photo/Video alumni Gerald Cyrus recently collaborated with photographer Ibarionex Perello to produce an episode of Perello's photography podcast "The Candid Frame."

“Bandaged” from: Harlem

“Bandaged” from: Harlem

Gerald Cyrus was born in 1957 in Los Angeles, CA and began photographing there in 1984. In 1990 he moved to New York City and obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in 1992. While at SVA, he also interned at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture under the supervision of Deborah Willis. During his time in New York, Cyrus photographed regularly on the streets of Manhattan, Harlem and Brooklyn, and in 1994, he started frequenting the nightclubs in Harlem and photographed the vibrant music scene in that historic neighborhood for over six years. The resulting body of work, entitled “Stormy Monday”, was published as a book in 2008.

Cyrus currently lives in Philadelphia and teaches part-time at Jefferson University. He is also a member of the Kamoinge, Inc. photographers’ collective.

The Candid Frame is a photography podcast hosted and produced by Ibarionex Perello, which provides frank, insightful interviews with some of the industry's top established and emerging photographers. The weekly program is consistently ranked among the top programs of its type.

To listen to the featured podcast in full, visit The Candid Frame and navigate to the media player at the end of Gerald Cyrus' bio.

Imagemaker Presentation: "Treece" with Dina Kantor

Trenton & Madison, Treece, KS, 2010

Trenton & Madison, Treece, KS, 2010

October 7, MFA Photo/Video alumni Dina Kantor will discuss her work "Treece" at the Society for Photographic Education's Northeast Chapter Conference in New York. Concurrently images from the project will be on view as part of Tipping Points, a juried exhibition by Paul Mpagi Sepuya which will be held at the Vassar College James W. Palmer III '90 Gallery in conjuction with the conference. With an opening reception on October 6th, the show will feature approximately 35 works by photographers from the North East United States, many of them connected to colleges and universities. The exhibition will run through October 25th, 2018.

Tar Creek, OK, 2011

Tar Creek, OK, 2011

Speaking on the work, Kantor states:

"The world is facing unprecedented change on multiple fronts -- environmental, technological, sociological, psychological, and political. While historically things are always in flux, the exponential acceleration of so many factors is new to our age, as is the concept of humans propelling irreversible tipping points at a global scale.

I began photographing [Treece, Kansas] when the government decided to fund a buyout of the entire town, and the residents had this impending dissolution of their community and homes hanging over their heads. The houses are now gone; the roads have been torn up. The vacant land itself was sold in 2014. The EPA is still working on reclaiming the land, and the town that remains is unrecognizable.

Photograph, 2012

Photograph, 2012

This project is about understanding the transformation and finality of community, changes in the structure of home and the destruction of land, and the subsequent birth of a new identity."

Dina Kantor is an artist and educator based in Brooklyn. Her work explores the ways in which the camera contributes to our understanding of identity and community.

Dina is a 2016 fellow in photography from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She received the Aaron Siskind Foundation IPF Grant in 2012, and was a 2013-2014 A.I.R. Gallery Fellow. In 2014, she was awarded a residency at the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. Dina has also received grants from the Kansas Humanities Council, the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Finlandia Foundation National. Her work is included in the permanent collections of The Jewish Museum in New York, the Portland Art Museum and the Southeast Museum of Photography. Dina holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BA from the University of Minnesota.

For more information about Dina Kantor's talk at the SPE Northeast Conference on Sunday October 7th, and for a further description of the work, visit the event webpage. To learn more about "Tipping Points" on display at Vassar College James W. Palmer III '90 Gallery, please follow the link provided.

Room For Tea: an immersive installation by Iris Xing

MFA Photo/Video alumni Iris Xing recently created an immsersive pop-up experience based around tea culuture in New York City. As the Room for Tea event website states:

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"In the city of New York, we are fascinated by the integration of diversity. Tea is such a magical drink that embraces all different flavors and allows them to shine their unique characters with balance. Herb meets milk; sweet meets bitter, and of course Boba meets Jelly! Just a few examples of how fusion the tea world can be. In a way, it is a collision of taste, a synthesis of cultures, and a symbol of unity.

As lovers of tea and fans of diversity, we’re here to celebrate tea’s glory. With our love, passion and creativity, we created this fun interactive space for everyone in New York City."

The pop-up featured several rooms highlighting various aspects of tea-culture, including: the Labyrinth of Tea origin, Milk Tea Metropolis, Matcha under Cherry Blossom, Summer BOBA Court and Mint Tea Secret Box.

Take a video tour of Room for Tea below: (footage provided by Richard magazine)

Tiffany Smith: Redefining Incarceration Through the Arts

MFA Photography, Video and Related Media alum, Tiffany Smith is utilizing art to explore notions of displacement and identity through collaborative experience. One of Smith's latest projects takes place at Recess Assembly, an artist-led program designed as an alternative to incarceration for teens and young adults who are caught up in the justice system.

In a recent interview published through SVA's ContinuED newsletter, Smith says:

"I worked with the youth more directly and over a longer period of time than I have in the past. I was able to get to know them more personally and develop closer bonds...The impact for a young person seeing someone who looks like them, who understands the circumstances they've come from, and exemplifies how to successfully sustain a career as an artist is immeasurable and increasingly necessary."

Installation view of Tiffany Smith’s “A Moment in the Sun”

Installation view of Tiffany Smith’s “A Moment in the Sun”

Tiffany Smith is an interdisciplinary artist from the Caribbean diaspora who works with photography, video, installation, and design to create photographic portraits, site responsive installations, user engaged experiences, and assemblages focused on identity, representation, cultural ambiguity, and displacement. Using plant matter, design and home decor elements, pattern and costuming as cultural signifiers, visual references from an array of multi-cultural influences, derived from her upbringing between Miami, Florida, Nassau, Bahamas, and Jamaica inform images and installations that examine their subject’s individual narratives. Smith’s constructed temporary habitats serve to articulate cultural subjectivities that oscillate between the roles of visitor and native, mirroring the ambiguous cultural space that her subjects occupy. Smith’s practice centers on what forms and defines communities of people color, in particular; how they are identified and represented, and how they endure.

To view the full interview with Smith, visit ContinED online.

Portrait of Recess Assembly team during public family photo day (credit: Tiffany Smith)

Portrait of Recess Assembly team during public family photo day (credit: Tiffany Smith)

Cynthia Bittenfield: Current Shows and Exhibitions

On view at at the Wassaic Project until Saturday Sept. 22, Change of State features SVA MFA Photo, Video and Related Media alumnus Cynthia Bittenfield. The exhibit showcases art created during a time in which many people in our country have felt divided, angry, vindicated, or confused — and the works reflect these changes and challenges. Find elements of nostalgia, fantasy, failure, hope, fear, love, anger, and chaos. Consider who you are, not the groups you identify with, and attempt to welcome each artist's intentions without your own biases. While not all of the works are political in the traditional sense, it is worth considering the charged political climate in which they have been created and the rural community in which they are being viewed. Visit the Wassaic Project for more information about the show.

“K.P.” by: Cynthia Bittenfield

“K.P.” by: Cynthia Bittenfield

Also on view by Bittenfield this month, World War II Revisited combines images from her father’s scrapbook with images taken at the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. The combination of his playful, innocent musings of daily life in basic training with the remnants and aftermath of war creates a powerful statement of the harsh reality of war and the devastating loss.

World War II Revisted is available for viewing Mon, Wed, and Fri from 11 am- 7 pm at The PIT Loft.

“Boys Will Be Boys” by: Cynthia Bittenfield

“Boys Will Be Boys” by: Cynthia Bittenfield

Cynthia Bittenfield pursues projects that shed light on the human cost of war whether dealing with the issue of post-traumatic stress, revisiting battlefields and sites of atrocity, or documenting life on the home front. The discovery of her father’s wartime scrapbook after he died started her in this new direction. The photo album and family archive has also figured prominently in her latest portrait project, an homage to her mother’s life and death.