It has been a real pleasure to jury the work for NOVA Alexandria’s annual Photography + Media Exhibition. Thanks to the students who shared their work with me and thanks to Aya Takashima, Chair of photography for inviting me to jury the show. Choosing work is always difficult. 94 works were submitted and from those, a total of 52 were selected. I looked for images that are striking for their use of color, light, texture, and form as well as their ability to communicate narrative, to delight with absurdity, to capture our culture and identities and/or to subvert what we expect to see. We are inundated by images in our daily lives and yet good photographs remind us that there are still things that we have not seen or perhaps can only see in a photograph. They still have the power to surprise and engage us, preserve our memories, and stimulate our imaginations.
I found the work of the following artists to be particularly thought provoking.
Dean McIntyre’s images transform the natural landscape we know into an other-worldly unnatural and eerie place devoid of humans. The images are a bit alienating and at the same time peaceful. While human presence is absent, they each suggest in a subtle way that we have been there. Intended or not, they make me think about the possible consequences of ignoring our impact on the environment.
Larissa Maia’s images Empty vs. Full and Glitches are interesting for their use of multiples and digital manipulation. The repeating hourglass Invites contemplation of the nature of time. It reminds me of the sign for infinity and light and dark suggest cycles of night and day even while the sand makes me think about the illusive nature of time or moments captured in a photograph where time is frozen. Glitches and the accompanying video suggest that humans are becoming more and more absorbed by technology and that there is a danger that we will be completely subsumed by it.
David Kravitz’s images use heightened color and the absence of ground to great effect. In these, the amusement park becomes a surreal skyscape where a man riding a pink elephant waves to us and a whirligig from below becomes an insect with human legs. The images are unusual and disorienting, something out of a dream where the import of things is yet to be determined.
Trena Raines has an eye for geometric shapes. In umbra, toy building blocks are lit dramatically to create shadows that work in contrast to vibrant color. At first, I thought the image was a geometric design or painting but upon closer inspection realized it was multiple photographs. Very fun to look at! Her other two black and white images also use shape, value and shadow to create structural abstractions that dissect space.
Cristin Hand’s playful compositions use objects, paper, and parts of the human body to push and pull 2-dimensional space, creating illusions of 3 dimensionality. The elements in the images are carefully balanced and invite investigation.
Shulie Madnick uses incongruous elements to surprise the viewer. In one she hangs green tortillas on a clothesline and in another places a hook in a wedge of cheese. The use of white as the primary backdrop in each intensifies the surreal, dreamlike quality of the images.
Elizabeth Espinet’s Mirror and Queen of Hearts are beautifully lit and use props and costuming to engage the viewer. In the black and white image, a disembodied face gazes back at us in a mirror. In the color image, the subject gazes at us directly while holding a hand of cards. Both images have a fairy tale quality. The first reminds me of the old Jean Cocteau movie, Beauty and the Beast, the other reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.
I hope you all continue to re-imagine the world with your cameras. Thanks again for the opportunity to see your work!
Chair, Department of Art + Design, Art History, Art Education
Professor of Photo Imaging
This year's Juror's Award recipients are Dean McIntyre, Larissa Maia, David Kravitz, and Trena Raines.
Juror's Honorable Mentions include Cristin Hand, Shulie Madnick, and Elizabeth Espinet
This year's Faculty Award recipient is Shulie Madnick. Shulie's work will be featured on the program's website.
Awarded in conjunction with the Juried Student Show, this year's scholarship recipients are Hannah Green, Eli Burke, and Anthony DeScipio