Photography News

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Mitchell Schwarzer

Mitchell Schwarzer gives his introduction at the CCA faculty retreat

On February 4, 2012, the faculty at California College of the Arts gathered at the college's San Francisco campus for a retreat focused on the state of the arts across our many disciplines. In the morning, 25 short presentations offered insights into challenges and opportunities faced by practitioners and thinkers in recent times. The word aired most frequently was crisis: the crisis of the Great Recession; the crisis of Global Climate Change; the crisis of understanding and working within a discipline in our digital age.

Watch the video of all the presentations (91 minutes), shot and edited by Yoni Klein (Photography 2012)

The economic downturn has produced an economic squeeze within most of our disciplines. Art directors, as Alexis Mahrus remarks, have diminished roles in shaping an illustration. Smaller profit margins reduce the flexibility and time given over to experimentation. Branding and celebrity worship take up a larger slice of the creative pie. Some presenters, like Sue Redding of Industrial Design, see no problem in this conflation of art and business and, furthermore, dispute the notion of a crisis. Yet many presenters feel that the economic crisis is not only real but wielding dangerously asymmetrical impacts. Demand remains strong for high-end craft goods and blue-chip fine art. Some small nonprofits are struggling to survive. To Ignacio Valero of Critical Studies, the priority given over to luxury items can be attributed to the ongoing influence of classical economic policies that privilege individual decision making over collective social and natural needs. Likewise, Sandra Vivanco of Diversity Studies notes that economic inequalities have greatly worsened over the past few years, especially in the developing world. Contemporary society is forging a timeless, spaceless way of conducting business, a race for lucrative and short-term gains that concentrates investment more than ever in the hands of a few.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 by Jim Norrena

A documentary short by Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi

Blink once for finalist, twice for student Academy Award.

In almost as little time as it takes to blink, Yoni Klein's (2012 Photography) and alumna Alka Joshi's (MFA 2011 Writing) documentary short, Blink, made the film festival rounds in 2011, screening at almost a dozen film festivals across the United States as well as in London at GFEST, the Gaywise Festival! Now the film has just been announced as a regional finalist in the 39th annual Student Academy Awards competition of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy) and the Academy Foundation!

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Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 by Samantha Braman

Todd Hido, Untitled #9197, 2010

Todd Hido (MFA 1996, and currently a Photography faculty member) has built several remarkable and highly recognizable bodies of work over the two decades of his career thus far. He is best known for his night shots of suburban houses, desolate landscapes obscured by rain and snow, and uneasy, haunting portraits.

"Photographing people and places -- and putting them together to create narratives and suggest stories -- has consistently been my focus," says Hido. "It never ceases to amaze me what happens when you combine a portrait and a place. Your mind can't help filling in the gaps between them."

Hido's latest solo exhibition, Excerpts from Silver Meadows, is on view now through February 25 at Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco. Sequenced to form an almost cinematic narrative, its main "characters" are atmospheric, uninhabited wintertime landscapes and somewhat spooky portraits of beautiful, dramatic-looking women. Silver Meadows is a real place -- a suburban development that sprang up around 1970 on the outskirts of Kent, Ohio, where Hido grew up, which makes the development and the artist about the same age.

While shooting the pictures, he wandered around Silver Meadows and its adjacent areas deliberately, yet randomly, in search of scenes that would connect with his recollections. The exhibition presents both Hido's reckoning with his own past and a summation of the suburban childhood experience in general, in which communities are constructed from whole cloth, and "ticky tacky" homes, built similarly to convey stability, actually conceal lives seething with sexual and psychological instability. The pictures feel simultaneously familiar, yet imaginary and dreamlike, transcending any specific time and place.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Sniper
Bedwetter Books, 2011
Hardcover, 208 pages, $40

Sniper takes a loose and imaginary look at the Baltimore Snipers, examining the relationships of paired serial killers as an ultimate expression of repressed desire. Christopher Russell (Photography 1998) writes a perverse version of the classic American love story told through the narrative chaos of nameless characters, past-life flashbacks, false recollection, and parental and bureaucratic influences that define the psychological space of the outsider. The text’s 200 full-color pages are heavily illustrated, reproducing Russell’s drawings scratched into photographic emulsion. The release of Sniper revives the Bedwetter brand, which achieved notoriety during its 12-issue existence with a destroy-to-enjoy design strategy and an embrace of difficult literary and visual material.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Gregory Halpern: A
J&L Books, 2011
Hardcover, 96 pages, $40

In A, American photographer Gregory Halpern (MFA 2004) leads us on a ramble through the beautiful and ruined streets of the American Rust Belt. The cast of characters, both human and animal, are portrayed with compassion and respect by this native son of Buffalo (now a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology). The cities he is drawn to -- Baltimore, Cincinnati, Omaha, Detroit -- share similar histories with his hometown, and in this postapocalyptic springtime all forms of life emerge and run riot. Halpern's two previous books, Harvard Works Because We Do (a portrait of Harvard University through the eyes of the school's service employees) and Omaha Sketchbook (a lyrical artist's book portrait of the titular city), were also investigations of locations and persons that fly under the radar.

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Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Nymph Daughters
Super Labo, 2010
Paperback, 32 pages, $20

This new book by Todd Hido (MFA 1996 and Photography faculty) is a departure that brings him back to some of the narrative sequencing experiments he explored in graduate school while studying with the late Larry Sultan (Photography faculty). Hido's series started with two photos: a found studio portrait of a mother made in the 1950s, and a found archival newspaper photograph of the aftermath of an auto accident. Hido put the portrait at the front of the book and the car crash at the back and worked to narratively connect the two using his own archive of portraits, landscapes, and photographs of houses.

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Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 by Allison Byers

Filming Question Bridge: Black Males

On any given day we encounter dozens, even hundreds, of people who are different from us: a different race, a different gender, a different class, a different age . . . We intellectually understand that our own identity is multifaceted, yet sometimes we cannot help grouping people into stereotypes, even within what others would consider a diverse demographic.

A team of four artists—CCA Photography faculty Chris Johnson, two CCA alumni, Hank Willis Thomas (MFA and MA Visual Criticism 2004) and Bayeté Ross Smith (MFA 2004), and Kamal Sinclair—have begun a far-reaching conversation on this topic, engaging a diverse group of African American males in a question-and-answer exchange. Their innovative trans-media project is entitled Question Bridge: Black Males, and it seeks to represent and redefine black male identity in America.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 by Clay Walsh

Sally Mann [courtesy of City Arts & Lectures]

Sally Mann

In Conversation with Steven Jenkins
Wednesday, March 21, 8 p.m.
Venue: Herbst Theatre
401 Van Ness Avenue (at McAllister)
San Francisco

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Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 by Clay Walsh

First Place: "Exciting Times with the JET Mill" by Santiago Portilla

Congratulations to all the student finalists in CCA’s second annual R.A.W. Photo (real artists @ work) contest, which had as its theme “A Day in the Life at CCA.”

Contestants were challenged to submit up to five standalone images that depict a project, moment, mood, memory, or other quality of CCA life taken from the student perspective. As expected, the results were as varying as the students themselves!

The Winners

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Posted on Friday, November 25, 2011 by Jim Norrena

"A Great Day in San Francisco" [photo: Chris Nickel]

"'A Great Day in San Francisco' is a picture of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and families and friends of the LGBT community at California College of the Arts," explains Painting/Drawing chair Kim Anno in reference to her latest project, a tribute to Art Kane's 1958 masterful photograph, "A Great Day in Harlem" (1958), that captured the historic gathering of 57 of the century's most influential jazz musicians on the steps of a Harlem brownstone.

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