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[ VOL 004; ISS 003 ] Appetite Not to Scale

Sustenance aside, we consume to manifest belief and foster personal bias. We consume much like a camera produces a photograph, for every input there is an output. While the camera might be understood in these terms, light as the input and the photograph as output (the camera being a finite machine), it does not account for variables of perception, in how we assign meaning to the output and the infiniteness of perception. Perception grows from finite means, which grows understanding into practice. The photograph therefore is a function of perception, which is to say, it is a fulfillment of the partiality to which we already prescribe.

(Featured work by Barbara Ciurej & Lindsay Lochman, Sara Clarken, 
Jon Feinstein, Amanda Greene, and Johnathon Kelso)

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 003 ] Appetite Not to Scale

[ VOL 004; ISS 003 ] In Conversation with Ian Mahathey About His Project Rural Dairy Farming

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SM: We probably tend to romanticize the life of a farmer. In your photographs the life seems a bit more routine though, and to read your accompanying statement, dairy farming is perhaps not so much an interest of the farmer himself. In fact, you mentioned that he has since moved on from dairy farming. Rather it seems more an opportunity to earn an income and support family.

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IM: I think the romanticizing of a farmer depends a lot on who you ask. Sure, there is the notion of the rugged Marlboro man and the fantasy of male machismo. But there are also the towns people of farming communities, who for them farming is a way of life. I was very intentional in photographing Pete’s routine of daily life. That routine is not much different than any other person who provides for their family when you really observe it. This was done as a way for the viewer to relate to and empathize with my subject and hopefully gain something they previously had not known. There is no physical way for any human to do what a dairy farmer does if there is not passion involved.

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 003 ] In Conversation with Ian Mahathey About His Project Rural Dairy Farming

[ VOL 004; ISS 003 ] In Conversation with David Hebb About His Project The Poverty of Excess

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SM: The title of one photograph from Poverty of Excess is “Four Hoarder Icons”. Not to dissect the image or explain it specifically, but will you share a bit about the idea behind that title? Of all the titles, it is the most figurative.

DH: As I walked through the house, that particular corner had those four distinctive elements grouped together, and I was immediately fascinated by how the religious iconography melded seamlessly with the Americana craft imagery, and then there was this fourth out-of-place outdated piece of technology.  Since I had previously visited a hoarding environment and had spoken at length with the animal rescue crew who had seen many similar sites, I was aware of certain visual details that seem to be common to all hoarding environments.  Religious symbols, such as the cross and the Madonna and child are very common, as well as some type of Americana “home sweet home” scene, such as the cozy fireplace done in needlepoint.  Of course these are also found in many American homes, but you don’t often see old phone jacks with the cover plate missing, although I had seen it before in my first encounter with a hoarding environment.  The phone jack’s placement within the context of the Americana and religious imagery seemed to transform it into a special type of icon that is symbolic of the slow and steady neglect that allows a once habitable living environment to reach this horrific state.

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 003 ] In Conversation with David Hebb About His Project The Poverty of Excess

[ VOL 004; ISS 002 ] Photos Without Certainty

Isn’t faith a lot like a photograph? In it we put so much hope. Not that a photograph isn’t beautiful enough, isn’t smart, or provocative enough. But it is limited. There is an expectation of clarity as it so precisely conveys beauty or hope amongst despair or sometimes disparity and nothing else; or occasionally hope and nothing else but not often. And so through it, through the finite like a graven image affixed highly, we seek the aesthetic of the infinite. A particular welfare rooted in idealism, that light is more persistent and prevails over darkness. Thusly the photograph is guileless, trusted to provide answers, maybe even save my soul or at least tell me what to do, what to believe and how to act in response accordingly, or the very least just to believe in something beautiful. Or deny something not beautiful. The photographic process, is simple and earnest like a hard day’s work or an animal with a soul. A dry creek bed, an emaciated dog, a particular cloud formation or an infant at birth, once photographed is no longer bound by worldly confines but rather, is imbued by something more eternal. That change is possible or virtue triumphs. The everlasting amidst the fallible is the hope for immortality contained by the decisiveness of the photograph. Academically of course one can conclude that the photograph is merely the product of chemical or electronic manipulation of light. Romantically though hope holds for something more idealistic, silver halide revelations or a testimony by ones and zeros. The idealistic after all, is more empowering as motivation.

(Featured work by Aaron Canipe, William W. Douglas, 
Maury Gortemiller & Joel Whitaker)

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 002 ] Photos Without Certainty

[ VOL 004; ISS 002 ] Photobook Under Discussion with Brooke White – Tasveer by Saleem Ahmed

Brooke White is a practicing artist and educator specializing in fine art Photography and video art. White has exhibited her photographs nationally and internationally including the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, NE, MASSMoCA and the DiVA Art Fair in New York, Paris and Berlin. White is a recent Fulbright Scholar where she lived in Bangalore, India photographing. She resides in Oxford, MS with her husband, daughter and dog and is Associate Professor and area head of Imaging Arts at the University of Mississippi.

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BW: I was struck initially by the use of these [photographed] objects as both symbols and metaphors for isolation and exclusion.

SM: Yes. Elements are recognizable. We aren’t curious as to what is going on in the frame. But you get from it that tension and that informs everything else that follows.

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BW: It’s reinforced throughout… these moments of tension and these objects, all isolated. The image of the rug is interesting because I think about his religion but it’s just in the halfway between the doorway and hallway. It makes me think about someone leaving really quickly. I consider that idea of leaving a space in a hurry and what that means in this context of being Muslim-American.

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BW: These symbols of America, the eagle (on the car seat)…

SM: The eagle has an element of perhaps being iconography of a different culture. Because it is not American colors. The elements are there but the way they are arranged suggest something foreign or unfamiliar.

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 002 ] Photobook Under Discussion with Brooke White – Tasveer by Saleem Ahmed

[ VOL 004; ISS 002 ] Makenzie Goodman In Conversation with Anacleto Rapping about Faith, Family, and Dying

As a staff photographer at the Los Angeles Times for over two decades, Anacleto Rapping covered Presidential campaigns, Olympic Games, World Cup Soccer tournaments, and the Academy Awards. He had the distinct honor of sharing three Pulitzer Prizes for team coverage in news, and individually, he received a Pulitzer nomination for his photography at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. 

Currently, Anacleto is freelance photographer and leads photography workshops in the USA and abroad. He recently taught for 9 years at Brooks Institute’s School of Visual Journalism in Southern California. He says, “Every time a photograph is taken, that moment becomes part of our history.”

MG: I guess the first question I have is how long was the time period between when you took these photographs and when you looked back at them for the first time?

AR: I shot the ones of [my mother] in the hospital in 2007. I kind of looked at them when I downloaded them but I really didn’t stop and look and ponder over them because at that time I was doing a lot of family stuff. I have one sister. She had a hard time dealing with what needed to be done with the funeral arrangements and things like that. I didn’t have any time to grieve or stop and think about my mom, so at least a year before I really went back and looked at them.

MG: What was the intention, when you decided to photograph?

AR: It wasn’t a difficult decision for me only because in my family they always knew me as the photographer. I always had a camera and was always taking pictures at every family function. It took me out of… when I’m looking through the camera… the personal experience of me being a son. It takes that away. So it really became a shield for me emotionally not to have to deal with it completely at that point like other family members were. And that’s a good thing and it’s not a good thing. Even now if I go back and look at these photographs everything stops and I just sit there and look and it can be emotional.

MG: The photographs [in which your dad] is looking at your mother really affected me. It kind of cultivates this emotional empathy. Those images seem so sad. When you look at them do you feel any sort of hope?

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 002 ] Makenzie Goodman In Conversation with Anacleto Rapping about Faith, Family, and Dying

[ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] Family Like A Wishbone

I grew up in a house built by my father. Behind it and constructed of lumber treated to withstand many years of weather, was a small log cabin. It belonged to me and occupied the yard like an eternal child of the full-grown house in front of it. When my parents divorced, the house was signed over to my mother who eventually sold it and its progeny in the backyard. My father moved into a mobile home, my mother into a smaller house in a neighborhood and not on a plot of land out in the county, like we knew growing up. Neither of these places ever really felt the same as when I was a kid and now on the other side of a divorce, neither did our family.

A few years later as I was finishing college, my grandfather offered me his house. It was becoming too much for his care but he wanted to keep it within the family. On the living room side of the kitchen counter were hidden collectible coins under the carpet. My grandfather gave me a few over the years and over the years I lost most all of them. On the screened back porch with bright green plastic carpet was a small refrigerator full of canned Tab and bottled Coca-Colas. Just outside the porch I learned the three speed manual transmission on his riding lawnmower. I raced it around the backyard with the blade disengaged, never actually cutting the grass.

(Featured work by John & Emily O’Connor, Bradley Peters, Sophie Barbasch, 
Nathan Pearce, Michael McCraw, Kay Westhues, 
Natalie Krick, Samantha Belden & Samantha Harthoorn)

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] Family Like A Wishbone

[ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] In Conversation with Evelyn Cervantes About Serving with the Peace Corps in Nicaragua

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Evelyn Cervantes was born and raised in Southern California. She studied Visual Journalism at Brooks Institute and graduated with a BS in 2013. Currently she serves as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua where she lives with a host family and works as a community health promoter. After her service she plans on continuing social and community development work and involving photography as a means for learning critical and creative thinking in future projects with youth.


 

SM: Why are you in Nicaragua and why is photography important to what you are attempting to accomplish?

EC: I am in Nicaragua serving 27 months as a Peace Corps Community Health Volunteer. I wouldn’t say that photography is a necessary role in terms of my job as a volunteer, I do however believe it is an important skill that I have learned to incorporate into my job to complete two of the three Peace Corps goals, which are to share American culture with host country nationals and share host country culture with Americans. Aside from its importance in completing those goals, photography helps me contemplate and understand the environment I am living in by providing a way to record and later process the events I live through; it serves the purpose of a resource. At the same time the act of photographing is something familiar and comforting that I can take with me anywhere new that I go, providing a safe transition from one experience to another.

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] In Conversation with Evelyn Cervantes About Serving with the Peace Corps in Nicaragua

[ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] The Unknown In The Familiar by Jesse Groves

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When looking at other photographers’ images of their spouses I have often thought they represented examples of the easy and available subject. Getting married myself has changed this perspective. Sharing life with someone in marriage has shown me the possibility that photographers return again and again to their spouse —their subject in life and in art— not out of ease, but because our medium is the tool with which we look for meaning. This is our most meaningful relationship. And just as relationships constantly evolve and change, our subjects are never the same from photograph to photograph, always presenting opportunity for growth from one frame to the next.

In his essay Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes so famously asked, who controls the meaning behind a photograph? Is it the photographer, the subject or the end viewer? When the subject is also the spouse, the intended viewer is often partially both photographer and subject — like a family album. In this case the negotiation for meaning behind a portrait is intensified and evolves with time.

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] The Unknown In The Familiar by Jesse Groves

[ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] In Conversation with Aaron Turner About His Project Isolated Truths

 

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SM: What is the basic idea behind Isolated Truths and why are you pursuing those ideas through portrait photography?

AT: The basic idea behind Isolated Truths was this idea of what Appalachia stood for when people first started to inhabit it and why people are still there today. It’s an isolated place, most of it is at least, and it’s where all these different groups of immigrants ended up when they were looking for a place to be isolated from the persecution they were facing. Italians, Irish, and also Native Americans from the Trial of Tears ended up in Appalachia as well, African Americans ended up in Appalachia through various ways too.

I come from a straightforward documentary approach but seeing all of the different ways a story could be told photographically, I was greatly influenced by my professor at Ohio University, Gary Kirksey and his “Vanishing Generation” series and also Brian Lanker’s book “I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.” I approached this project with portraiture so that the viewer only had the option to look at the people with no other distractions, or at least that was my goal.

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] In Conversation with Aaron Turner About His Project Isolated Truths

[ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] Photobook Under Discussion with Milly West – Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long by Tara Wray

Milly Moorhead West (b. 1949) is a nationally recognized photographer whose works are in the collections of The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, The Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, The Meridian Museum of Art, Meridian, Mississippi, The Brooks Gallery in Memphis, Tennessee, The Center for Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, and many private and corporate collections.

West is a past recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Photography and former owner of Southside Gallery in Oxford. Her work was featured in the book and traveling exhibition Visualizing the Blues edited and curated by Wendy McDaris. After many years as an artistic photographer, West earned an MFA in photography at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. There she received the prestigious Gussman Award in Art and published numerous short stories and poems.

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SM: You are a grandmother and photographer. And at least in some regard you identified with the grandmother in Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long more than anyone else, correct?

MW: I felt that exactly. I should qualify that the first time I looked at the book I was very sick in bed. I thought I could look at it anyhow and I remember being almost made sicker by some of the images. I was reacting to the photograph of the hotdog really. Of all the photos to be the double page, it was this grotesque hotdog. I’d been sick all day and I had to get the book as far away from me as I could. When I looked at it later my first reaction was to the cropped picture of her grandmother’s thin hair up in curlers. Tara is trying to show some of her environment and rather than giving me a picture of someone she remembers she is giving a picture of someone she knows is leaving soon. You see her skin so spotted and thin. You see the chigger bites, which are okay because I guess it means she has been outside or is still active. But I wouldn’t want people to remember that about me. I don’t identify myself as who I am going to be when I am weak. I identify myself as who I am and have been: strong, viable, working, a loving woman, mother, provider, explorer and all the things I’ve done prior to when I eventually get to this stage.

Continue reading [ VOL 004; ISS 001 ] Photobook Under Discussion with Milly West – Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long by Tara Wray