Category: Inspirations

CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL OVERVIEW

 ***Warning…lost blog post…but how could it NOT BE when you attend the WORLD’S LARGEST photography festival???!!!***

Yep, supposedly CONTACT, is the world’s largest photography festival.  Gotta say, how can you argue with 20 exhibitions in major museums and galleries, 17 site specific installations in urban spaces, 40 selected exhibitions in galleries around the city AND 110 exhibitions in venues throughout the community.  That’s 187 unique photographic experiences (not including opening parties, receptions, artist talks, panels discussions, etc) to be had during the 2017 Soctiabank CONTACT Photography festival held this past May in Toronto, Ontario.  And via Great Meadows Foundation, I was granted the opportunity to travel to Toronto and spend nine days taking in this amazing festival!

 #thankyougreatmeadowsfoundation

An early highlight in the trip was meeting Shelley Niro (in red), winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Photography Award, and CONTACT Artistic Director Bonnie Rubenstein during Niro’s talk at her site-specific public installation at Fort York.

 

The theme of this years CONTACT was recognition of Canada’s 150 anniversary, so the works exhibited were largely by Canadian photographers and largely works about Canadian people, places and things…with an emphasis on the beauty of the Canadian landscape.  As this was my first trip to Canada, it was a great way to learn about the country’s history through the evolution of the photographic medium as work spanned from early tintypes, through the Kodachrome era and finally with contemporary interpretations of the digital image.

 

From Dana Claxton series Road Trip.

It was wonderful to see major representation by Canada’s indigenous community and see both the past and present from their perspectives.  Like the United States, Canada had a highly contentious colonial history and I was impressed to see so many artists address the subject in thought provoking ways.  Dana Claxton (above) questions how histories are represented and for whom by layering found images of middle class Canadian outdoor holidays with beadwork patterns from the Lakota tribe who formally inhabited those landscapes.

 

Installation image of Coastal by Johan Hallberg-Campbell

 

One of the most visible trends I witnessed throughout the festival was the use of large-scale images printed onto vinyl.  The vinyl adheres to a variety of surfaces and can be installed anywhere from interior gallery walls to natural elements or even sides of buildings.  This really interested me as I continue seeking ways to work larger.

 

Lori Blondeau @ Ryerson University

 

One on my key interests of the CONTACT festival was the incorporation of photography as public art.  Public art and environmental installations are huge in the world of art these days, but I feel like it is mostly of a sculptural, 3-dimensional nature and I couldn’t wait to see what a photographic festival would showcase.  Seeing work on billboards, subway platforms and even positioned onto the large scale rocks as featured in Lori Blondeau’s work, inspired me to think creatively about transforming environments with photographic imagery.

 

 

A unique aspect of a Great Meadows Foundation grant is the encouragement for applicants to make connections with professional colleagues in conjunction with their proposal destination.  My good friend Paul Paletti of the Louisville Photo Biennial was kind enough to to connect me with Bob Carnie, photographer, printer and owner of Alternative Photo Services  and Connections Gallery in Toronto.

 

Bob Carnie, owner of Alternative Photo Services, Carissa Ainslie, Production Coordinator of Connections Gallery, and myself at the opening reception of their traveling exhibition ‘Alternative Photo Revolution’.

 

Bob and Connections Gallery Production Coordinator, Carissa Ainsle planned a full day of not only viewing prominent exhibitions featured at the CONTACT photo festival, but also introducing me to key players of Toronto’s photographic art world.  Highlights included a private studio tour of Matthew Plexman (pictured below) and meeting with Sarah Burtscher, Gallery Director at Stephen Bulger Gallery.

 

Taking in the devastating beautiful work of Matthew Plexman’s Clear Cut Series.

 

But nothing topped meeting with Brian St. Denis, the Festival Coordinator of CONTACT!!  Because of my involvement with helping to organize the upcoming 2017 Louisville Photo Biennial, I was excited to meet with Brian, who was very generous with his time.  He clued me into some key elements of how a team of 5 successfully pull off this major photo festival EVERY year.  He was also kind enough to explain how an individual, such as myself, could go about finding space and showing their work as an Open Exhibition of CONTACT, which is what attracted me in the first place.  I love that an artist can participate in the festival without being represented by a gallery or included in a museum show.  The Open Exhibitions can be featured in gallery spaces, but also cafes, shops, restaurants, etc and the bulk of the exhibitions at CONTACT fall into this category.

 

contact
Meeting with Brian St.Denis, Festival Coordinator of CONTACT.

 

Needless to say, I had an amazing time taking it all in!  The festival itself was spread throughout the large city of Toronto which enabled me to take in the vast and different neighborhoods that make up the artistic fabric culture of this amazing city.   I made a lot of great connections and was inspired on a number of levels.  I will definitely be processing this for years to come!

Stay tuned for the next post…INSPIRED AT CONTACT!

~jz

 #thankyougreatmeadowsfoundation

Bernheim Regional Artist In Residence

Lots of long deep breaths taken in front of this tree.

 

So thrilled to announce that I have been awarded the first Regional Artist in Residence at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, Kentucky.  This prestigious and highly competitive Artist in Residence program has been established for over 30 years and have hosted the likes of national and international artists Ray MetzkerLynn Geesaman, Shinji Turner-Yamamoto, Julia OldhamNicholas Dowgwillo, Firat ErdimJaime Bull, Tomasz Domanski, Carlotta BrunettiHideki Kanno,and Madison Cawein to name just a few.  This is an incredible honor and the recognition of my work means so much to me.  It also validates the decisions I made a few years back in being less career focused and more passion driven, encouraging me to stay on this path.

 

Art as seen on Lake Nevin!

 

(Click HERE to see the read more about the 2017 Artists in Residence at Bernheim)

 

Upon sharing my news, I have gotten a lot of “What exactly does that mean?” kind of questions.  Generally, an Artist in Residence means that you take actual residence at a place somewhere away from your usual environment and obligations.  Most often there is a fairly extensive application to submit and only a handful of artists get selected.  The granted experience provides time for reflection, finding inspiration and production of (usually) an already proposed project.  Some residencies cost money to stay there, others are free…some offer stipends, but most do not.

 

Dogwoods…a week ago when they were crazy in bloom!

 

Bernheim is providing me a stipend and temporary living quarters in exchange for a work of art to be left to the Bernheim Foundation.  This particular residency is also unique in that I have access to all horticulture and operations departments, as well as ecologists, scientists, naturalists and forest managers.  I am also allowed admittance to most scheduled hikes and eco classes offered throughout the calendar year.   I have literally been invited to become part of the entire ecosystem at this amazing place and I love how this program enhances the visitor experience through arts interaction.   This is an experience/opportunity I will not be taking lightly!

 

Little baby pine cones in the making.

 

I am encouraged to use this residency to further investigate, experiment, and explore new avenues in my work.  My project proposal for the Artist-in-Residence program is to create a large scale, multi paneled, photographic installation for a currently undetermined space in the arboretum.  The imagery will be captured during extensive exploration of the Bernheim grounds while in residency.

I currently explore the hands-on process of integrating photographic images with surfaces like wood, glass, and aluminum.  I find that the substrate is just as important as the image itself and the incorporation of the two has the power to transcend the traditional boundaries of the photographic medium.  I am enamored with aluminum as a substrate and have explored it thoroughly in the forms of both foil and plate.  It’s shiny, reflective surface is ever changing as you move around it and the material harkens back to the vintage Tintypes of the past.

 

 

But instead of simply transferring an image onto plain aluminum, I intend to “cook” my aluminum plates to distress and age them.  Cooking can be done in a handful of ways with simple gear that ranges from a dish washer to a turkey roaster as well as homemade designs using readily available materials.  The agents for change are cleaning products such as Cascade and TSP.  The objects I intend to use for distressing and creating unique, unduplicated patterns onto the aluminum plates are natural materials such as fallen trees, debris and plant material collected while exploring the grounds of Bernheim.  Essentially I am “developing” these plates with the natural legacy of this beautiful place that I will then transfer photographic images onto.   Working in this fashion lets chance intuitively dictate my work while asking the image to surrender to the process.

For more information about this process and my prior results, check out this blog post from a few months ago.

 

Early in the residency and days long past…magnolia blossoms for days!

 

I have been staying in their artist cabin for most of April, and will be returning methodically through out the year.  When I can, I’ll also be making work in the Lake Nevin Studio.  If you make a trip…and I highly recommend you do…let me know…it’s likely I could be there too!

This story has only just begun my friends!

~jz

(See the full list of former Artists-in-Residence and learn more about the Arts in Nature Program at Bernheim.)

Why I Marched

“Every woman’s success is all of our success.” Marcia Tucker

Last Friday night, I boarded a bus in Louisville, Kentucky, en route to the Women’s March in Washington D.C.  After arriving Saturday morning, I participated in the largest national mass demonstration in history.  Later that evening, I got back on the bus headed home.  I returned Sunday morning, totally wrecked, but ready to do it all over again.

So what motivated this kind of arduous activity?

It’s no secret that I am incredibly disappointed by the election results, but I didn’t march because my candidate lost, nor was I there to mock or belittle the newly inaugurated president.

I marched because I believe in equal rights for all humans, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, political or religious affiliation.  I marched because I believe in reproductive freedom, universal healthcare, right to clean water, clean air, and feel strongly that our environment must be protected.  I marched because I believe that our diversities are the strength of this country.  I marched because I don’t want to lose the ground that women have fought so hard for over the past 60 years!!  In the spirit of democracy I marched for what I believe is right and because I’m concerned about the new administration’s stances on health care, climate change, education and other policies I personally find frightening.

And when ya stand up for the things you believe in, it feels really good to do so!  By all reports, not one arrest was made in all the Women’s March demonstrations nationwide…including sister marches on all 7 continents…which is an incredibly impressive feat!!  With a polarized nation, during a time where tensions are most high, I think this something that ALL, regardless of party affiliation, can be proud of.

So why are women NOT ruling the world already??

On the bus, where a fellow marcher passed out the trademark pink pussy hats that so many of us marchers donned.

 

 

The bus arrived in D.C. later than anticipated, and the walk from the bus to the capital ended up being the closest thing to a march that I experienced due to the sheer number of people who showed up.  There were so many in attendance that all streets surrounding Independence Ave were jammed with little room for maneuvering!!  As we walked through residential neighborhoods to the capital, many locals came out and cheered us on…some with tears in their eyes.

 

 

 

Literally a sea of people…and this was still early!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Women’s March on Washington sent a powerful message to our new government on their first day in office.  But now the real work must be done.  All humans have the power to change the future.  May we be more engaged citizens in creating a stronger democracy for our country!!

 

 

Love is Love is Love is Love!

Peace,

~jz