Saturday, June 11, 2011

This is your brain after finishing your PhD coursework

This is my brain. This is my brain after finishing my PhD coursework.

This is the third piece in my "brain on post-its" series. The other iterations are from the end of the last semester and the end of last year. The piles represent my stickies from circa 50+ books, countless articles, and grading (NB: this semester's is the largest). Post-coursework my graduate experience continues: I have to study for orals, write my prospectus, and then research and write my dissertation, but this is a momentous milestone indeed.

On tap this summer: prep for teaching photohistory in the second summer session at BU, work on a paper accepted to SECAC, and above all, reconnect with friends and family and take stock. It's been an instructive,
productive, and wild ride!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Flash Forward Festival Boston - Exposure Galore!

In the better late than never category, if you are in Boston, do get out to the fab (and free!) Flash Forward Festival. There are many exhibitions, educational lectures and panels, and events to enjoy. I'll be there again today!

I am delighted to see so many photographers that I worked with or curated into physical or online exhibitions at the PRC be recognized in this terrific international format. It's so great to see them rise and gain many deserved accolades! If there is one snippet of advice I can give to photographers of all stripes--which was reiterated by the first noted below as well as many of the other panelists--keep making the great work that you do and it will come back to you - be true to yourself,
be patient, and have faith!

Here is just a sampling...

On the Education side:

Chris Churchill was on a FFF panel and was featured in the group exhibition, DOCUMENT. So excited to see his great work in soon-to-be-published book by Nazraeli Press!

In the
FF 2010 Group Show:
Claire Beckett was also featured in DOCUMENT. Her work is up now at MassMoca in The Workers and is really taking off!
Kevin Van Aelst was the NEO featured artist in August 2008. Kevin's work was honored as a part of Critical Mass 2010 and always brings a smile to my face.

In the
FF Fresh Work Group Show:
Toni Pepe was the NEO featured artist in November 2008. She is currently organizing the Think Art: memory conference at BU.

CONGRATS to these folks as well as all of those participating!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Essay for book: Between Planting and Picking, Sandi Haber Fifield (Charta, 2011)

This past summer, I wrote an essay for Sandi Haber Fifield's new book Between Planting and Picking (Charta). Now, just in time to "think spring," I am excited to announce that it has been published! My afterword is joined by a foreword by Dominique Browning, former editor-in-chief of House & Garden and author of many fine books, and of course Sandi's splendid photographs. It's quite amazing to see this project come to fruition and know that the tome is out there in the world.

Sandi will have an exhibition of this work at Rick Wester Fine Art (March 3 - April 16, more info and images here) and work will also be on display at AIPAD (March 17 - 20). See a sneak peak of the series on her website and peruse the book
virtually via photo-eye's book tease.

Here is the publisher's description of the book:

Photographer Sandi Haber Fifield reveals the quiet moments and unexpected beauty that define the simple life of a small farm. Inspired by the 'farm to table' ethos, the artist spent two growing seasons documenting rural life from California to Massachusetts.
Get your signed copy on photo-eye and support a great organization. Here is the Charta link regarding the book (look, I'm translated into Italian!) and here is the amazon listing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Presentation at the IFA/NYU-Frick Collection, History of Art Symposium

I am thrilled to announce that my presentation was selected to represent Boston University's History of Art and Architecture department at the IFA/NYU-Frick symposium for Art History graduate students, jointly sponsored by the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University and the Frick Collection. I will present a version of my paper on artists' viewsheds that I wrote for Professor Keith Morgan's seminar. The paper is titled "Institutionalizing the Artist's View: The Viewsheds of Frederic Edwin Church and Winslow Homer." If you'd like to know more about viewsheds, here is a very short intro.

The symposium will be held April 15-16, 2011. They just posted this year's schedule; you can browse the program here.

ABOVE: a photograph from my visit to Olana

Monday, January 17, 2011

Exhibition overview: Traces at PAAM

It's always wonderful when photographers are not only great artists, but great people too. I was delighted to show Dan Ranalli's work in the 2004 PRC exhibition, Concerning the Spiritual in Photography. Since I am also a huge fan of his other series, I was excited when Dan asked me to curate a solo show of his work for the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.

For this exhibition, I wanted to focus on Dan's wonderful environmental work and, in particular, feature work that was created on the Cape. The gallery itself became a site-specific offering (and for two pieces, Dan wrote the accompanying text directly on the walls). The result was Traces: Daniel Ranalli, Cape Work 1987-2007 (October 15, 2010 - January 16, 2011). All told, the exhibition took about a year to plan and also included the organizing and writing of a catalog to accompany the show. The experience was great and the exhibition was very well received. The show received excellent press: Cate McQuaid penned a super review for the Boston Globe and Dan was interviewed for BU Today as well as Art New England.

The opening weekend couldn't have been more perfect.
Dan and Tabitha (also an amazing person and artist) graciously let us stay with them at their beautiful place in Wellfleet. The opening was well attended and I met many fascinating people. At an afterparty, the good conversations continued and we were able to celebrate Liz Unterman's birthday as well. The next day, we went for a hike and explored a gorgeous beach in the clear, bright October sun. The Cape is delightful in the fall!

Above and below are installation shots of the gallery. Overall, I am thrilled with the quiet, meditative space we created and how it all turned out!

Click on the above image, then click again, for a closer view

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Back to blogging, hopefully, and "This is your brain on grad school, Number II"

I've been a bad blogger. Such is life as a PhD student. I thought I'd do an update of my "brain on post-its" post/pic from the end of last year as a placeholder. The above pile represents my post-its from circa 40+ books and countless articles from last semester.

Before things get too crazy in my last semester of coursework, I hope to provide a few short updates on life and the following projects: the SPE-NE conference at RISD, the show Traces that I curated at PAAM, the essay I wrote for Sandi Haber Fifield's forthcoming book,
Between Planting and Picking (Charta, 2011), and anything else that comes to mind.

Until then, enjoy the pretty colors!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

SPE-NE conference @ RISD - Nov. 5-7 - Speakers announced & early reg. due Oct. 16th

I wish to take the opportunity to share the finalized schedule and registration information for the SPE-Northeast Regional conference -- November 5-7 at RISD -- "The Experiential in Photography." As conference chair, Bruce has been working very hard on making this an amazing event. I was delighted to be on the abstract selection committee and am helping to publicize what promises to be a fascinating experience in its own right!

The conference speakers are listed below. In addition to the eight talks highlighting the work of regional scholars, curators, educators, and photographers, the conference will feature a keynote lecture by artist Spencer Finch and a presentation to honored educator Deborah Bright.

Hurry, early registration ends October 16th (after that you pay a slightly higher fee; registrations are accepted up until and at the conference itself). You can download the Conference Registration Form here. If paying by credit card, you can email the form to

November 5 - 7, 2010
Chace Center, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI (directions here)
Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown, Providence, RI
Conference website:


Keynote Speaker: Spencer Finch
Honored Educator: Deborah Bright

Speakers and Presentations:
- Sharon Harper (Harvard University), "Photographing the Invisible"
- Meggan Gould (Bowdoin College), "Site-seeing"
- Angela Kelly (RIT), "Catharsis: Images of Post-Troubles Belfast"
- Janet Pritchard (University of Connecticut), "Seeing Yellowstone with New Eyes"
- Jan Howard (RISD Museum)," Joe Deal's West & West: Re-imagining the Great Plains"
- Monica McTighe (Tufts University), "Embodiment, Experience, and Photographic Images"
- Michelle Sheppard (Algonquin Regional High School), "Breaking the Bubbles and Rebuilding the Boxes: Re-Thinking Creativity After Standardization"
- Panel: "The Image, Written: Using Photography to Teach Writing" (academic practicum) - Rachel Somerstein and Lorraine Doran (New York University), Elizabeth Cornell (Fordham University), and Alden Jones (Emerson College)

Conference hotel:
Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown
58 Weybosset Street, Providence, RI, 401-608-3500

We have reserved a block of rooms at a special rate for conference attendees. Rooms will be $99 a night with breakfast and complimentary high-speed internet. To reserve a room call the Hampton Inn and tell them that you are attending the SPE-NE conference. Reservations must be made by October 15, 2010 to receive this special rate.

Conference Chair and Regional Chair: Bruce Myren


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Call for Papers: SPE Northeast conference, "The Experiential in Photography" - EXTENDED SEPT. 7th - Spencer Finch to give keynote

Above image: Spencer Finch, The Most Beautiful Blue (Goethe's Theory), 2007, Dimensions Variable, Candle, Pencil, White paper, Daylight, from


As blogged previously, Bruce Myren is the new chair of the Society of Photographic Education (SPE) - Northeast. He is working hard on the regional conference, to be held in Providence, RI in early November, and it is shaping up to be absolutely stellar!

Artist Spencer Finch has just been confirmed as the keynote speaker! Please consider attending SPENE and submitting a paper or panel on the provocative and timely theme, "The Experiential in Photography." Proposals are due Sept. 7th. See below for the call and more details on the conference.

Spencer Finch’s artwork often deals with issues that lie at the heart of photography, including light and color. Via installation and various media, Finch poetically investigates a variety of phenomena by way of a psychological and physical breakdown of perception's components. Often engaging the fascinating middle ground between observation, memory, and language, the subjects of his works range from attempting to capture and re-present the gray of shadows in
Atget's work, the ineffable effects of a cloud passing in Emily Dickinson's backyard, to finding and photographing where the ends of a rainbow once were.

A recent lecturer at Aperture Foundation, Finch holds an MFA in sculpture from RISD and a BA in comparative literature from Hamilton College. Exhibited in national and international venues, including the 2004 Whitney Biennial and the 2009 Venice Biennale, Finch is represented in major museum collections. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoca) presented a major retrospective of Finch’s work in 2007, What Time is it on the Sun?, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art will showcase a solo show in fall 2010, My Business, with the Cloud, as a part of their inaugural NOW exhibition series. His website is

More info below and also here (including the registration form):

Fall 2010 :: CONFERENCE

Call for Papers - SPE Northeast Regional Conference

The Experiential in Photography

November 5 - 7, 2010

Chace Center, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown, Providence, RI

Our conference theme this year aims to consider the ways in which the experiential plays a role in the creation of and theorizing about contemporary photographic and related practices as well as the resulting presentation and consumption of work that engages and comments upon experience/s, broadly defined.

In addition to the normative understanding of the experiential, that of being there, the theme considers how artists use experience--their own or someone else's--as a part of their working method to formulate and express concepts/work. For example, papers might address work that incorporates memories or the other senses, performances or series meant to understand others' experiences, capturing a unique place or experience in another space/place, etc. Lastly, how does the viewer's or consumer's own experiences prior to, during, and after the presence of the work change the reception/understanding?

Please note: submissions are encouraged but not required to address the conference theme. The accepted sessions will be presented on Nov. 6th, with the keynote and a reception occurring on Nov. 5th.

Submit a Proposal - Proposals can be for any of the following presentation formats:

Lecture: presentation on a current topic, theory, or another artist's work

Academic Practicum: lecture or panel addressing educational issues

Imagemaker: presentation on your own artistic work

Panel: a group led by a moderator to discuss a chosen topic

To submit your proposal, email the following:

- your name, address, phone, email, title of submission, and additional speakers/panelists

- a 500-word abstract detailing the presentation

- a 250-word biographical summary for each of the speakers intended
- not more than 10 images (1024 x 768 pixels, jpeg, minimum compression)
up to 2 minutes of video (800 x 600, mp4 or mov)



Thank you for your interest in the SPE-Northeast Regional Conference. If you have questions about the conference please email Bruce Myren at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Critical Mass

I feel fortunate to have participated in Photolucida's amazing juried photo opportunity -- Critical Mass -- as a juror from the very beginning. In its first year, 2004, we rated over 600 entries. In subsequent years, the organization instituted a pre-screening jury to make the experience more manageable (culling it down to about 150-175 photographers). This year, I am delighted to be a part of an illustrious panel of pre-screeners. You can see the complete list of the 195 jurors (and counting) right here. Submissions are being accepted now through July 25th!

If you are a photographer, I can't recommend Critical Mass enough. Think about it: this is easier
and cheaper than sending packets to all of these people and organizations! In fact, I've found several folks for exhibitions through it (2009's book award winner Priya Kambli among them). In addition, it's a very effective memory jogger and a great conversation starter -- once we see your work again, bam! instant recognition. I've especially found this to be a wonderful lead in to in-person reviews. I also use and consult the galleries and cds of previous years often.

It is fascinating to see how the entries each year are slightly different (you can browse the top 50 from various years here and just like all of the jurors, all photographers get a cd of the work of all of the finalists' submitted work as well as the winning books). I look forward to witnessing what ideas, aesthetics, issues, and the like bubble up! Good luck to all!

The details from Photolucida: The entry fee is only $75 for 10 images and the chance to have that work in front of more than 200 top photography curators, collectors, editors, gallerists, and publicists (if you are selected for the top 175, you pay an additional $200). This year’s awards list have expanded and diversified to include:

* At least one Book Award
* Five free slots to the Photolucida 2011 Reviews
* One solo show hosted by Blue Sky
* Critical Mass Top 50 Exhibit held at Newspace Center for Photography
* Three complimentary VisualServer websites and portfolios on photo-eye’s
* Photographer’s Showcase for one year

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This is your brain after one year as a PhD student

This is my brain. This is my brain after finishing my first year as a PhD student. Actually, these are about 1/2 of the post-its I removed from my ~70 books before returning them to the library (and from the 10+ books I bought, both numbers are from the spring semester alone). Despite the exhaustion, I'm in a good spot: the program and professors are fantastic and my colleagues inspirational. I have learned so much. Bruce also celebrated a milestone: he finished his first year as a fulltime professor and recently graduated his first class.

One year of coursework down, one more to go...and then all that other stuff (orals, prospectus, dissertation). It's rather strange as I haven't not worked fulltime in about 11 years. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty to do: prep for teaching the history of photography in BU's second summer session (here's hoping that two more sign up!), curate an exhibition of Dan Ranalli's work for the fall/winter at the Provincetown Art Museum, go to a conference in London (here's hoping the flights come down!), and get married in the Catskills. Nevertheless, I am still recovering from the year and also not quite sure what to do with myself as I re-enter the land of the living. (A start: yesterday, I bought flowers and planted my window boxes.)

Getting my PhD is something I've always wanted to do and I always intended to go back, but I now feel something like a high schooler without steady summer employment. Some of the more interesting summer jobs I have had in the way past include
amusement park ride operator and ice cream truck driver. What are some of the more noteworthy or quirky ones you've had? Any suggestions, tips, or tricks for re-entry inbetween/after school?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

National Geographic's "Peeps in Places"

National Geographic put out a call for photographs of "Peeps in Places" (love the name) and the winners will be featured on their blog next week. In the meantime, check out some selections from this year so far here and last year's winners gallery here. (For some peep trivia, learn more about the making of peeps here and a peep research site here.)

I was especially charmed by their contest graphic featuring one of their finalists from last year -- a snapshot of two bunny peeps peeping through a Tower Optical coin-operated binocular viewer! The topic is near and dear as I just gave a paper on this very device.

I particularly enjoy that they call for a "sense of place":
"We want to know what it felt like to be there," says Dan Westergren, Senior Photo Editor at National Geographic Traveler. "And we want to be able to tell by looking at the photograph that the Peep had a good time."
Happy spring and trails everyone!

Friday, March 26, 2010

SPE Northeast region, news

At the national Society of Photographic Education (SPE) meeting in Philadelphia earlier this month, Bruce was elected chair of the Northeast Region! He is very excited and hopes to rally the troops!

SPE has made a tremendous difference in Bruce's life. It blows my mind to think that in 2005 he nervously came with me to Chicago. Reviews filled up, but he brought his portfolio anyways and ended up showing it to tons of people, making lots of connections, and meeting many new friends. Just 5 years later, he has his MFA and is an Assistant Professor at NEIA!

For those in the Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT), please join the facebook group here and watch for good things to come!

ABOVE: SPE pic of Bruce with his color checker t-shirt I bought him for his birthday along with RISD students and the amazing Henry Horenstein, all at the legendary dance party. Bruce will be teaching a section of large format/view camera at RISD again in the fall.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Harnessing positive energy, David Prifti

I want to take a moment to blog about an amazing person, David Prifti. David has been battling pancreatic cancer and tomorrow he will have intraoperative radiation. I know that I along with so many people he has touched are sending heaps of collective positive energy his way. If anyone can beat this, David can.

I showed David's liquid emulsion work at the PRC in Contemporary Vernacular in 2004/2005. As he is often wont to say, although he went to Yale, he's still a kid from Worcester. A high school photo teacher by day, David readily gives of himself and he always generously opened his studio to my Art Institute of Boston Professional Directions classes (replete with lemonade and cookies). He spoke to the students about balancing one's life and work and gave them what is perhaps the best piece of advice for an artist: do something everyday, no matter how small, for your art.

For those who don't know David, I hope you take a minute today or tomorrow to ponder a favorite teacher and add a little positive energy back into the universe. The impact that educators make on our lives is immeasurable.

Check out more of his awesome work on his website.

UPDATE - GOOD NEWS! The surgery went well. Now let's keep up the positive vibes!

ABOVE: David Prifti, Assabet River, from Trees

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Paper at the BU Art History Graduate Student Symposium, "Place"

I was delighted to be selected to present at the BU Art History graduate student symposium on March 20th. The presentations and keynote look wonderful and place is a favorite topic of mine. I can't wait to hear them all! The full schedule of events is below and more information is here.


Friday, March 19, 2010, 5:30pm
Boston University Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery
855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 02215

Anne Whiston Spirn, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Language of Landscape

Saturday, March 20, 2010, 10:00am-3:00pm
Riley Seminar Room, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115

10:00 am COFFEE, Riley Seminar Room

Moderator: Lana Sloutsky, Boston University


Elisa Foster, Brown University
Remembered Places and Lost Spaces: Retrieving the Medieval Sites of Le Puy-en-Velay

Jessica Roscio, Boston University
The New Woman at Home: Alice Austen, Gendered Identities, and Domestic Spaces

Sally H. King, Columbia University/The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Establishing the Modern Gateway: the Ornament and Architecture of Grand Central Terminal, 1913


12:00 pm LUNCH
1:00 pm COFFEE, Riley Seminar Room

Moderator: Austin Porter, Boston University


Elizabeth Bennett Hupp, University of California, Berkeley
On China Cabinets in a Mennonite Living Room

Erica North Morawski, University of Illinois at Chicago
Savior of Stop-Gap Housing: The Role of the Quonset Hut in Post-World War II University Housing

Leslie K. Brown, Boston University
Nostalgia with a View: Meditations on the Tower Optical Coin-Operated Binocular Viewer


For more information please contact Carrie Anderson, Symposium Coordinator, Art History Department, Boston University at, or visit This event is sponsored by The Humanities Foundation at Boston University; the Art History Department, Boston University; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Boston University Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery.

Above Image: Henry Pelham,
A Plan of Boston in New England with its Environs (detail), 1777. Map Reproduction Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Help needed: Photogs who document places that look like other places

I am writing as I would love to have help/input. This is hopefully what the blog-o-sphere and the internets are for, right? Right!

As many know, I am in my second semester as a full-time student. Currently, I am taking a seminar on Globalization and Contemporary Art (in addition to Institutional Architecture). I am hoping to write my seminar paper in part on photographers who document places that look like other places and all of the issues surrounding the locations and this practice. This includes of course Andrea Robbins and Max Becher's project on the "Transportation of Place"
and also series like Seung Woo Back's "Real World," a global place theme park in South Korea, and Reiner Riedler's "Fake Holidays." Many focus on sites of tourism in which a locale has either capitalized on a previous connection (either strong or tenuous) or created one out of the blue.

I know that that there have to be more people doing work on and about this, and perhaps it's just my tired graduate student memory that needs help jogging...can you help point me to more? I have included links above to spur your thinking and names that others have suggested so far below. If you also know of sites (such as Miniaturk in Turkey) that bring sites and monuments from disparate places together in one place, that would be welcome too.

Comment if you wish below. Many many thanks, and if used, there will be a grateful citation and endnote awarded in your honor!

Beth Dow, Thomas Demand, Christopher Sims, E. Robinson Brady,
An-My , and variations of "Never been to"...and more.

ABOVE: Reiner Riedler, from the series "Fake Holidays"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope all had and are having a wonderful New Year! I think I am not alone in saying a hearty goodbye to 2009. It was a tough year. Here's to clean slates and new beginnings. Bring on 2010.

Of note, again, are Tim Garrett's fabulously funny new year's postcards. Every year for ten plus years, he has produced a postcard with a phrase that rhymes with "happy new year," an example of which is above: "Shaqy, Drew, Gere."

You can find out more info and purchase sets of postcards here. (Tim is the co-founder of and was shown in the PRC's 30th anniversary exhibition.) Jill and Tim are also super people to boot!

Above by Tim Garrett and from

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's a Swedish Christmas!

For this year's Christmas, I decided to get my family Swedish items in celebration of Bruce's heritage and do a little Swedish-themed blog post. Previously, I posted on Dutch traditions, including Chocolate letters, as my family is mostly Dutch.

In my research, I came across the Christmas Goat, or Julbock, who is ridden by the Swedish version of Santa Claus. Tomten is a gnome that lives under floor boards and rides a goat to deliver presents. Julbock ornaments and decorations are traditionally made out of straw, symbolizing good luck.

Since 1966, the town of
Gävle in Sweden has erected a large Julbock in the center of town, only to have it burned down 38% of the time. In 1971, another group joined in the making and now Gävle has two straw goats. This newer goat has a higher survival rate of 47%. (Wikipedia even has a chart both of the goats' demise and survival.) You can see a live webcam of this year's sad burnt goat here and read about the news here. This reminds me of MIT's pranks and pranksters, although I wish this one didn't involve destruction. Thus, the tradition even has a tradition.

This strange phenomenon does not surprise me given that I just learned of the Swedes tradition of watching a 1958 Donald Duck cartoon every Christmas eve at 3pm. Read more about this fascinating cultural custom here.

As they say in Sweden, God jul!

ABOVE IMAGE: screen capture by David in Delta from webcam, Dec. 13th, 10 days before the Julbock was burned