Project Compeition Winner!

© Zachary Swearingen

We were thrilled to have Aline Smithson, artist and creator of Lenscratch, serve as the juror for this year's project competition. Aline looked through the Virb websites that the students created, specifically at their semester-long projects for FA382. She sent back comments about all of the work, and chose Zachary Swearingen as the winner.

About his work, Smithson said, "There was intelligent thinking with approach to portraiture -- much of it I echo myself -- and his ability to create truly striking painterly portraits and at the same time keep the work contemporary is fantastic.  I really resonated with his idea that we need to slow down our photographic practice, to take the time to really "see," to consider and to commit to an image. His portraits are timeless -- the shot with the woman with the rust turtleneck is amazing, but all have a wonderful combination of stillness, of composition, and of color...  I think there is a depth to this work that sets it apart and I extend a huge bravo to Zachary."

For winning the competition, Zachary receives equipment from Think Tank Photo, who has been a generous friend of the class for the past few years.  Thank you, Aline and Think Tank, and congratulations, Zachary!

© Zachary Swearingen

© Zachary Swearingen


Website Winners

The staff at Virb deliberated and had a hard time picking a single winner in the website competition. Their top two websites were created by Emma Kolb and Zachary Swearingen and generous folks that they are, have awarded BOTH Emma and Zachary a free Virb website for life.  Thanks again, Virb, for being a great friend to FA382!


Projects and Websites

The students have all been working on semester-long projects specifically for FA382 since early September. Each year we have the class projects judged, and our prize this semester is once again from the generous folks at Think Tank Photo.  We're fortunate to have as our juror, Aline Smithson, photographer and creator of the fabulous blog, Lenscratch. As we speak, she's looking through the projects online (site links below - which is your favorite?).

New this year, as previously mentioned, is the addition of the website company Virb to our list of "Friends of FA382." Virb has given our students free 6-month website trials (the standard is 10 days). The company staff will judge the sites that the students have created and award one "lifetime free" website. We're thrilled about the generosity of Virb, and excited to have the students creating websites, their first in most cases.

- Kevin J. Miyazaki

Please take a look for yourselves:

Alyssa Basinger: Memory

Hollister Donovan: Kristi

 Sinead Eby: (un)recalled

Devon Endsley: The Boys

Teresea Gagliano: Home

Emma Kolb: Possessions

Topher Mack: Some Fairytale

Thomas Nardini: Nocturnal

 Megan Nault: Decompress

 Zachary Swearingen: Presence and Process


Interview: Elinor Carucci

Sinead Eby: In your photographs, you tend to capture yourself or your loved ones in very intimate moments we wouldn’t normally see as the viewer. Is there ever a point you feel uncomfortable displaying what you have taken? If so, how do you get over that? If not, is it your goal to push the comfort level of the viewer?

Elinor Carucci: I am always comfortable photographing myself, and my loved ones as long as the were adults. Once I got into photographing my children, the rules changed, and I am editing and censoring the work much more. My goal is not to make the viewer uncomfortable but to convey intimacy, closeness and the core of deep relationships.

Sinead Eby: In addition to that, is there a limit you stop yourself or they stop you from shooting something? (moments that are too intimate or painful that you refuse to capture)

Elinor Carucci: Yes, especially with my children. I will sometimes be 'mother' first and some moments need me to be there for someone I love, without my camera.

Sinead Eby: Where do you see yourself in the next 5, 10 years? (Any future projects you are excited about? Goals? Accomplishments?)

Elinor Carucci: Who knows :-) my work has always followed my life, if I am going through a crisis in my marriage, this is the work. If I am spending a few years as a professional belly dancer, traveling and performing all over the east coast, if I have a medical problem, if I become a mother, that's the work. My work is coming out of my life, and I try to make it very universal, make it about people, our emotions, fears, pain and joys.

More of Elinor's work can be found at: http://www.elinorcarucci.com


Friend Of The Class: Wally Mason

© Kevin J. Miyazaki

Each year we have the pleasure of visiting the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University for a behind-the-scenes tour with Wally Mason. Wally talks about all things museum-world and challenges the students about their knowledge of contemporary photography. Thanks, Wally!


Friends Of The Class: Darren Hauck and Tara Bogart

© Kevin J. Miyazaki

In class recently, we visited with photojournalist Darren Hauck, a MIAD alum, who covers stories both near and far (and is currently working on a Presidential election story for Reuters); and with our own Tara Bogart, who works at MIAD and shared prints from her series, A Modern Hair Study.  Thanks, Darren and Tara!


Friend Of The Class: Sonja Thomsen

© Kevin J. Miyazaki

Two weeks ago, our class paid a visit to the Milwaukee studio of Sonja Thomsen. Sonja has been showing her work consistently for the past few years, including a two-person show in Iceland. Her energy and hard work was evident as she went into detail about her background, artistic practice and the current direction of her work. She is a recipient of a Mary L. Nohl Fellowship, and will be part of the related group exhibition which opens this Friday in Milwaukee. Thanks for visiting with us, Sonja!


Intro: Topher Mack

©Christopher Mack 2012

     My name is Topher Mack, and I am studying photography at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.  Ever since I was a little kid I have been intrigued with photography.  I remember taking my dad's Nikon FG and using up all of the film that was in the camera.  Back then of course I just used to take pictures of things that were interesting, but I lacked any real sense of direction.  It was in high school that I really began to take photography more seriously, and ever since then it has been a big part of my life.  I work in many different styles, and I'm not sure if there is just one that is "me."  I enjoy doing commissioned work as well as conceptual fine art as well.  After I graduate from MIAD it is my goal to work with organizations that help with disaster relief.  I would like to document people helping other people, and be able to bring awareness to the rest of the world about what is being done, or needs to be done.  In my free time I will continue to do commissioned works and make fine art.

Intro: Alyssa Basinger

Untitled © Alyssa Basinger

Hi my name is Alyssa Basinger. I am a junior photo major at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I grew up on the small island of Kodiak, Alaska. With little knowledge of photography, I was at first struggling with the form of art. Just moving away from the world I knew so well and was pushed to change. I found photography became a form of therapy. As I continued with my exploration of the art form, I found photography to be able to  open myself up and be able to explore. Through the couple of years at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, my work has progressed from darkroom experimenting to a more document based work. I wanted to document my family and how the military plays a huge role in my life. The series became a documentation of the amount and the type of communication that was produced over the multiple deployments throughout my family. As I continue with my education at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, I want to get out of my comfort zone and explore different types of medium with my work.

Intro: Devon Endsley

Untitled © Devon Endsley

My name is Devon Endsley. I am 22 years old and am currently studying at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design for my junior level year. Originally from Texas, the distance from home and loved ones has emotionally driven me to make photographs that transcend my emotion into small stories or sneak peaks into the lives of those around me as I visually interpret them. Along with my relationships, I draw inspiration from lighting, films, poems, and personal experiences. This semester I am working on a project that will focus on the young men in my life; more specifically, the two young men I have stayed close to since I moved to Milwaukee three years ago. They are my close friends, my chosen family, and each other's roommates. My images will remain undirected as I act as a witness studying their behaviors, mannerisms, habits, personal relationships, and home through a lens.

Intro: Megan Nault

The Traveler's Eye © Megan Nault

My name is Megan Nault and I am currently a junior photography major at Milwaukee Institute of Art
and Design. I currently shoot my photos digitally, but I have had a growing interest in film, more specifically using 120 film in old TLR cameras. I started out shooting my sophomore year of high school with photography as an observational tool, and slowly began to create more conceptual work. I grew up in a small town in southern Wisconsin where my high school had a dying art program, in which photography wasn't even an option. My work recently has been moving towards light and basic form being my main subjects and using color to create and modify the mood of the scene. I will be using this exploration to create a new visual world for my ideas to live within and have other people explore as well. Outside of photography, I am also striving for a communication design and animation minor. I draw a fair amount of inspiration from video games, books, and films along with other photographic work.

Intro: Teresa Gagliano

Untitled © Teresa Gagliano

My name is Teresa Gagliano. I was born and raised in the Milwaukee area and chose to stay closeby for school at MIAD. I'm currently a junior, where I'm pursing my Bachelors of Fine Art in Photography. I have been shooting high school senior portraits, families, children, and weddings for the last three years, but find myself most invested in my fine art photogrpahy. I primarily shoot my family and their home enviornments, dealing with isues of aging, absence, and impermanence. I'm most attracted to this subject matter because I'm trying to accept and understand these people and spaces they occupy as temporary. For my semester long project, I'm choosing to turn the camera inward. The project is heavily based on nostalgia and memory as I try to rebuild my definition and understanding of 'home'. I will be revisiting the places I once called home in order to get a grasp on leaving it all behind.


Intro: Sinead Eby

I'll Follow You Into The Dark © Sinead Eby

Sinead Eby is an artist currently studying at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, pursuing a bachelor's degree in photography. She tends to lean towards digital means of shooting, but has recently begun to work in film after many years of not doing so. Her style ranges from editorial portraits to documentary photography. After years of shooting senior portraits, head-shots, weddings, protests, and other events, she hopes to start focusing on a more meaningful subject matter. In her current, junior year, she plans on doing that by including personal issues of her own life, in a conceptual or narrative way of shooting.
With that in mind, her semester long project will shine the spotlight on the first 6 years of her childhood. Tackling the concept known as "motivated forgetting", Sinead will recollect things from her past and piece them together for her viewers, and herself, through a photographic collection paired with a series of text.

Intro: Tom Nardini

          Untitled   © Tom Nardini

Tom Nardini is a Wisconsin based photographer where he continually develops his shooting style on the streets and amongst abandoned buildings of Milwaukee. After honing his skills and bringing life back to derelict landscapes through the use of natural light, wide tonal range, and desaturated colors, he tried his hand at fashion photography. Tom quickly realized that his vision and artistic style lead to the pairing of classic architecture with budding local models to show the fashion sense and beauty of Milwaukee. Environmental portraiture is another of Tom's projects that combines impromptu moments and subjects relaxing within their homes. Continuing on, Tom would like to apply this stylistic approach of portraiture to local business owners within their natural work environment to create a genuine look at who they are and what they've created in the local community.


Friend Of The Class: VIRB

We're thrilled to start the year off with a new Friend Of The Class, the terrific website company, Virb, I recently created a new personal website using Virb, and was so impressed by the ease of their back end system, their technical support, and their simple, affordable pricing structure ($10/month). Brad and Tiffany from Virb HQ have generously offered our ten students a 6-month free trial period, which will get them through the full semester. The students have started to create their sites, which we'll reveal to you here on the blog in the months to come. The icing on the cake is this: At the end of the semester, the Virb team will judge the student websites and award a prize for best design: A lifetime free Virb website!


A new school year begins!

© Kevin J. Miyazaki

We've started a new year at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, with a great group of junior-level photography majors. Stay tuned to see their work and to read about our fabulous class guests and friends.


Project winners!

The students in FA382 worked on semester-long self-assigned projects. In December, they were fortunate to have their work juried by Alison Zavos, creater and editor of Feature Shoot. Alison is an important figure in the world of contemporary online photography. She viewed the work of each student on the class website, www.miadfa382.com.

As in previous years, the generosity of several companies made the competition that much more interesting. liveBooks donated a liveBooks.edu website, and Think Tank donated one of their Retrospective 30 bags.

Alison's pick for the overall winner was Kelly Peloza, for her series, rose-tinted. Her pick for a runner up was Briana Prudhomme, for her series, Ephemeral Appreciation. Thank you, Alison and congratulations, Kelly and Briana!

© Kelly Peloza

© Kelly Peloza

© Briana Prudhomme

© Briana Prudhomme


Exhibition: de novo

exhibit installation © Kevin J. Miyazaki

An exhibit of the students' semester-long projects, titled, de novo: to photograph anew, opened December 9th in the River Level Gallery at MIAD. It was a terrific opening, with great food and lots of visitors. The work is on view through January 20th.

From start to finish, this was an exhibition created by and mounted by the students. Over the course of many weeks, the process and discussion surrounding a 19-person group show was a tremendous learning process. It wasn't always easy, but in the end, the exhibition looks wonderful.

Here's a link to a story about it on the MIAD website: http://www.miad.edu/newsroom/latest-news/1441-de-novo


Interview: David Leventi

Curtain, Palais Garnier, Paris, France, 2009 © David Leventi

Sheena Hang: How did you get into photography? Who/What are your influences?

David Leventi:The first photography class I took was in high school with Mr. Swayne. My first camera was a Nikon 6006. It was my dad’s and I took it from him in order to take the class.

The first photograph on the first roll of B&W film I developed was an arrangement of yogurt containers stacked in a pyramid in the fridge.

Structured. Organized. That was always what I sought out. I enjoyed trying to capture a perfect composition—it was a way of putting a chaotic world in order.

During the class, my family and I went on a trip to Italy and my brother and I went for pizza across the street from the Gallarate train station outside Milan. At the train station, I shot a photo that—looking back now, more than fifteen years later—was like a prediction of my current work. It was a compositionally organized shot of train tracks, train sign posts, train lights, overhead train power cables, everything to do with trains—in a precise grid, in a single picture.

But, the majority of my photographs at the time weren’t so static. I was looking to photograph a moment, to capture all the essential elements uniting within a single frame. I wanted to be a conflict photographer and photographed with a Leica through college. My first job in the photo industry was working as an intern in the archive at Magnum Photos under Kim Bourus (now a partner at Higher Pictures Gallery).

I admired Henri-Cartier Bresson and his obsession with capturing the decisive moment. He was one of the founding members of Magnum Photos and it seemed like a great place to start studying outside of an academic environment. I too was looking for that decisive moment and for perfection within the compositional frame. Shooting with a Leica was spontaneous. It was ok for pictures to be out of focus and just an arrangement of forms. For me, the inherent beauty of 35mm photography is its ability to provoke an instant emotional response due to the rapidity and spontaneity of it, to draw attention to a nihilistic issue.

But, my appreciation of this changed when I started working for Robert Polidori. I came to appreciate the different type of beauty exhibited by large-format photography—one of immersion, the ability to print photographs so large and clear that they make you feel as if you are enveloped in and existing within a space. I enjoy the precision and structure of it. But, I also love the surprises I find in my large-format images when I enlarge them—things like the signature of Chagall on the ceiling of the Paris opera house or peeling paint at The Met that I never would have seen with my naked eye.

However, I still adore the decisive moment and believe Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects to be a large-format version of this obsession.

Margravial Opera House, Bayreuth, Germany, 2008©David Leventi

Sheena Hang: Who are your photographers that inspire you?

David Leventi: Andreas Gursky, Robert Polidori, Joel Sternfeld, Alexey Titarenko, Simon Roberts, Simon Norfolk, amongst others.

Thomas Struth’s photograph of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh is masterful: http://nyr.kr/oXTz1K

Amargosa Opera House, Death Valley Junction, California, 2009© David Leventi

Sheena Hang: Did you know you wanted to become a photographer?

David Leventi:I wanted to be a doctor until junior year in high school. I never imagined I would be photographing with a 4x5/8x10 view camera today.

Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza, Italy, 2010©David Leventi

Sheena Hang: How did you market yourself?

David Leventi:I don’t market myself as well as I should. I don’t enjoy shamelessly self-promoting. It’s not my personality.

But, after graduating from college, I wrote letters to five photographers I admired asking for the proverbial “foot in the door.” I started working as an intern for Robert Polidori, grew from that into an assistant, then a Studio Manager, then a Drum Scanner. I met many contacts through him, but more importantly, I saw how a professional photography business was run and benefited from getting his feedback on the work I was producing at the time. That was invaluable. He’s been an incredible mentor and friend.

My first editorial job was for Tracy Doyle at Time Out NY. I dropped off my portfolio on the drop-off day and she called back with an assignment to photograph interiors of stores for the 2nd Annual Shopping Awards issue. After that, I got hired to shoot a huge amount of stores and restaurants for the Time Out NY tourist Guidebook to New York and then periodic assignments afterward. Some of those shots inspired my portfolio of shots of neon storefronts in the city.

It was all really low-budget, but it gave me a bit of editorial validity as a photographer. Soon, I got called by Leana Alagia at New York magazine, then Lisa Berman at Vanity Fair, etc. It was a slow snowball as I got increased exposure. Each opportunity seemed to open a new door.

Sheena Hang: What made you decide in photographing Opera Houses? Do you have a story behind these photographs?Bold

David Leventi: The first music hall I photographed was the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest, Romania. I was there working on my other major project - photographing my family's history in Romania. It was an impressive-looking interior, awe inspiring, with so many ornate details. Standing alone inside the massive hall, there was a power emanating from the space. When I came home, I processed and printed the film of the Athenaeum. Looking at it from over 4,000 miles away, though you're not actually in the space, you feel it through the picture. I judge the good images from this project by the tangible emotion I feel when looking at them.

It also connects back to my family history with the story of my grandfather. The opera houses are spaces in which my Romanian grandfather, Anton Gutman, never got the chance to perform. He was a cantor who was interned in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp called Krasnogorsk from 1942-1948. The Danish operatic tenor Helge Rosvaenge, also a prisoner, heard my grandfather sing an aria from Tosca and gave him lessons. I grew up listening to him sing in our living room.

For me, the act of taking a picture with an 8×10 large format camera from center stage is a performance in itself. In homage to my grandfather, I guess you can say I’m living out our dreams.

I recently photographed the Bolshoi Opera House in Moscow which is relatively close to Krasnogorsk.