Friday, March 12, 2010

SPE 2010

The past two weeks have been very busy due to my spring break travels home to DC briefly, then up to Philadelphia, PA, for the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) conference, then back to Rochester to begin the spring quarter at RIT. This was my second consecutive year attending SPE and oddly enough, my first trip to Philadelphia (it's a mere 3 hour drive from DC!). The conference was a wonderful time to reconnect with former photo professors and colleagues, to meet new people and to see a little bit of Philly (including the Liberty Bell, of course!).

In addition to socializing and sitting in on lectures, one of the highlights of the weekend is the opportunity for portfolio reviews. During the Friday student portfolio critique session, I had the great pleasure of meeting with four different reviewers: Anni Holm, Heather McClintock, Amie Potsic, and Walter Bodle. I was thrilled for the opportunity to meet with each of them.

Anni Holm is director and curator of People Made Visible, Inc., in West Chicago, which according to the organization's website, is a "non-for-profit with a mission to facilitate community while fulfilling the artistic, social, educational and cultural needs of the community through an innovative physical and web based presence." ...sounds amazing!

Heather McClintock is a documentary photographer, who according to her website bio, seeks "a deeper, more intimate connection to humanity" in her work.

Amie Potsic
is an artist and current Director of Career Development at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, in Philadelphia.

Walter Bodle is the founder of Youth in Focus, an organization with a mission "to empower urban teens, through photography, to experience their world in new ways and make positive changes in their lives."

In addition to the one-on-one portfolio critiques, Saturday night was the Curator Portfolio Walk-Through (see above photo), in which students and professionals cover the very crowded room with work, resulting in a delightful chaos of sorts. During this time, I displayed work prints from my current project Slow & Steady. A few people I met during this time: artist and contributor to the online magazines Fraction and photo-eye Melanie McWhorter, Photo Center NW Education Director Ashley Siple, and recent SCAD MFA grad Nate Abramowski. Toward the end, I walked around a bit to see what others were showing. Last year, I remember seeing a surprising amount of black and white photos, but this year color photography had a much more significant presence.

Because I spent most of Friday afternoon in portfolio reviews, I missed a lot of the lectures and panel discussions. Though I did sit in on "Seeing Beyond Dirt: The Language of Working-Class Photography," a lecture by RIT English professor Janet Zandy. I also caught RIT Photo professor Suz Szucs' presentation in the panel discussion for "Self as Object: Perspectives of Identity." On Saturday, I attended the graduate student presentations by Kelly Flynn, Garrett Hansen, Gazelle Samizay, Travis Shaffer and Leilani Wertens.

Friday night, while walking in Old City for First Friday gallery events, my RIT buddies and I stumbled upon what was for me a very exciting art space called Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, a namesake for Walter Benjamin's essay. The store/gallery is currently showing The Farm, a narrative exhibition documenting daily life and new initiatives at the Art in the Age Farm in Tamworth, NH, presented by artist Robin McDowell. The below photo shows the storefront window.

So that sums up my 2010 SPE experience. I look forward to next year's conference in Atlanta, GA!

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