Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Website

So I am trying out a new free website hosted by Weebly. Please check it out and let me know what you think. I am slowly uploading some photos and getting text in the right places. Im finding that I will need to shrink most of my photos so as not to bog the site down too much. Thanks

Monday, July 25, 2011

When God Chooses Your Logo

When God Chooses Your Logo

It seems that I have been running into this idea a lot lately in various conversations about answers to prayer and the inspiration of art. I feel like she does a fine job of teasing out the two distinct positions in a very general way that can be extrapolated to the other 2 questions that I have run into lately. Thoughts?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cyanotype Landscapes

Over the past year or so, I have been experimenting with large scale landscape images printed out on Pictorico film and then printed through the cyanotype process. Ive endeavored to take these images out of traditional matting and framing formats and instead, hang them in the "natural environment" of the gallery space. While the images are stunning hung like that, as they embody a beautiful kinetic aspect as well as a remarkable translucence, they are decidedly harder to sell given their exposure. I decided to enter the images in a local show at Pekin here in North Dakota so I was forced to find an alternative display method that would protect the images while still evoking aspects of the kinetic and translucent natures that I love.

The result is a large shadow box that allows the image to hang on a steel rod that spans the width of the frame. I sewed a sleeve made of asian paper to the back of the image on both top and bottom, with the top of course as the hanging device and the bottom as a weight to keep the image off of the plexi.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Artist Statement from The Archival Turn

The Archival Turn

Emerging from my interests in memory and vernacular photography this collection of work intends to explore several related questions:

What guides our thinking about historical artifacts?

How are these ideas at play in the curation of an archive?

What role does the archive play in the formation of memory and history?

Traditionally, an archive has been regarded as a repository of objects and information essential to human history. However, in the last half of the 20th Century it underwent a profound conceptual change shifting its emphases from the objects to the archivist, and from place to process. At the heart of this archival turn is a fundamental skepticism of Modernity’s scientific methodologies.

Research has shifted from the objective recording of static and isolated objects to focus instead upon the curatorial power, and the cultural and historical embeddedness of the archivist. This turn has illuminated the inescapable fingerprint of archivist in the formation of the archive, human memory and ultimately history itself. As a result, layers of contexts, presuppositions, and the embedded power relationships between the archivist and archive come to the fore.

With two trajectories in mind, I have created an archive to explore the subjectivity of human engagement with objects while emphasizing the often-overlooked physical nature of the photographic object. I have utilized traditional archive forms of drawers and artifact trays, accession numbers and acid free enclosures to both suggest Modernity’s curatorial processes of empiricism, isolation, and limited access. These methods also intend to re-establish the viewer’s awareness of the photograph’s physicality. By modifying these forms, viewers may explore the perceived stability and instability of the relationships among the artist as curator and the objects themselves. Additionally, strategies of translucent layers, white-on-white printing, and the imaging of culturally shared symbols and collective memories, allows me to create a variety of contextual lenses through which we may explore the subjectivity of our engagements with historical objects.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Shots

I realized a week or so ago that I had never photographed the covers and bindings of my handmade books. So, while I still had access to them, I thought I should get that done. Besides my own records, I hope to enter them into some shows as well.

Other than the dust that inevitably clings to this sort of fabric, I love the shots with the shallow depth of field.

Theology & the Arts Reading Lists

The other day I was surfing through Duke's DITA program webpages and ran across a helpful reading list helpfully broken out into reading levels. As I looked over the two lists, I found several new texts that I was unaware of before. Over-all, its a great list...check it out.

Here is a link to it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two Person Show at Third Street Gallery

Friday, Jessica Christy and I hung our work down at the Third Street Gallery here in Grand Forks. We will be having a reception on June 30th from 7-9. Please come and check out the work.

Much of the work will be from our MFA exhibitions but I do have 9 new pieces (which I will show a few of when I get them shot).

Monday, June 20, 2011

New ideas, musings, and what-if's

So I have been thinking a lot lately about what I want to explore in the coming year and how it might be a good time to do some research for Ph.D apps. One of the ideas I keep coming back to comes out of my MFA work with vernacular photography. Ideas of its memorial nature, its narrativity and physicality come to the fore. While photo theory is dense and difficult, vernacular photography is often an estranged cousin of most photo histories. But what potentials lie in this oft dismissed realm of photography?

While I have been aware of photography's contentious relationship with memory for some time, its narrative and material nature are more recent for me. What connections might I be able to make to a theological approach toward vernacular photography? Could there be potent connections between the narrative interpretations of photo albums and narrative theology, biography, etc? What about portrait photography as iconography? Could either or both be pared with some sort of priesthood of believers? What does a sacramental theology and approach toward the arts have to offer in an engagement with vernacular photography? Given the digital revolution as, what seems to me another step away from the physical and material nature of the photographic object, could a sacramental theology help us re-engage the physicality and materiality of photographic objects. Are there historical arguments in the iconography debates that might lend direction on these ideas?

While these questions are incredibly broad at this point, my hope is to begin to draw a few threads together to refine a better set of questions.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

NYC and Barton Benes

During our brief visit to NYC I had to the remarkable opportunity to meet with the artist Barton Liddes Benes. I came to know his work through the UND art department and his connection to the North Dakota Museum of Art. While his work is somewhat transitioning, Barton is widely known celebrity relic pieces. Using traditional religious relic motifs, Benes transforms them with our cultures religious-like worship of celebrity. Bits of celebrity trash and other cultural oddities make their way to Barton through a vast network of friends and into his work. The diversity of relics is astounding from Frank Sinatra's fingernail to Madonna's panties, these little bits of ephemera gain importance via their provenance.

Barton has also done significant artwork on AIDS using his own blood in some pieces, failed AIDS medications, and even curing potion from an African healer complete with text for recitation.

While Barton may be taking a break from some of the relic work, he is still prolific in his work. His current work involves making mandalas out of the world currencies and prayer rugs out of varieties of stamps. UND recently completed a prayer rug edition of 27 for is beautiful and bright.

If you are not familiar with Barton's work, a great place to start is his book, Curiosa.

This was my second visit to Barton's home and his hospitality is remarkable. I am thankful for the time I had to spend with him and for his willingness to spend some time with a few North Dakotan fans.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Its summer. Finally. But somehow I seemed to have missed spring. I know how I missed it too. And my profound lack in posting shows it as well. Once I finished the MFA show, I jumped into a conference paper that I presented just last week at the College Theology Society. While I knew what I was going to write about, no words had actually been written at the beginning of May. I spent hours reading and writing during that short window between the beginning of the month and when we left for a brief pre-conference holiday in NYC. That which normally takes me a 3-4 months to write, I completed in just under 4 weeks. I will post more on the paper later.

For now, I am busy readying work for a 2 person show at Third Street Gallery that will go up sometime next week. Jessica Christy, my former office and studio mate at UND, and I will be putting up the remnants of our MFA show and some new work as well. So I have been working in the studio since my return from NYC printing a new series of work to be integrated into the show and a new series of small trays. The work will take the form of the small trays but will have prints behind like the larger lots of photos printed in white on white. Originally I printed them in color as a means of replacing the 2 books which I have sold, but I felt they were largely unsuccessful. So, I returned to the white-on-white printing and I am much happier about them. I am also adding plexi to this series of trays. Ive cut the front 1/3 of the top of the tray off and will attach it to the plexi so that the plexi might slide out, thus keeping a sense of functionality and access to the object rather than simple framing, while adding a level of protection not in the others. Ive not yet assembled the new pieces...hopefully today. I will post picts when I get them done.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Archival Turn...reflections on closing out the MFA

Well, the show has opened and the reception went off well. If you want to see pictures check out the link below.

The past week has been a little surreal. Going through this process as a culmination to a degree program is certain to make me reflect not only on this degree, but also to my BA reception back in 1998. Last week as I was putting the final touches on the show, I was listening to Toad the Wet Sprocket, one of my favorite bands from my time in college. I dont listen to them as much these days but would still list them among my favorites. It struck me as one particular album came up in the rotation that I was listening to the same album as I prepared my BA exhibition some 13 years later (how can it be 13 years ago?).

I have also been thinking about the ephemerality of art and the art show. UND has but one gallery and this time of year...really for the past 2 months, shows are churned through weekly. Roughly 2 BFA shows share a week and ideally MFA grads get one week to themselves which generally means you install the show on Friday afternoon or over the weekend after the last person has torn theirs down. While setting up the show is stressful and time consuming, it is a tremendous relief to see, in my case, the piles of work, transform the space and begin to embody your ideas. The review came and went without a hitch as did the reception. But already I see Monday, the end to this show coming all too quickly. The show represents the culmination of 3 years of work. For many artists, the work spans their last year or two in the program depending upon the speed with which they work and their medium. For me, this body of work was not begun in earnest until January...41 pieces made in 4.5 months. While many have are more minimal I still had to learn significant skills to reach my vision...namely frame-making and book binding. The center pieces to the show were 2 handmade books...something I had never made before.

I've also been thinking about what pushed me down this avenue of work. While there are many reasons, I've come to see the impact of my time in Cyprus with PKAP upon my work. The whole of the archive idea comes my time in the back of museum in Larnaca washing and photographing pottery. Their methods of cataloging and forms of storage (in what in my memory is simple pine trays) became the fundamental construction pieces for the show. My time in those off-limit areas re-affirmed the exclusivity of archives for the trained experts...Something that I tried to bring into the work...and by my own observance in the gallery, it seems to have worked.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Down to the Wire

The title says it all. One week from now I will be at a BFA opening downtown having just escaped my final review and oral examination. Yesterday I fought with wood to make shelves for nearly 8 still not sure if they will hang. I will find out tomorrow. After that marathon session, I didn't want to think of spending another night in the studio. So I am at home, working on title card formatting (fun) and planning a menu for the reception next Wednesday (actual fun).

Tomorrow I hope to test the hanging capability of the shelves, print my show posters, and finish my last two pieces. Sounds like an ambitious day...but with less than a week to go...they must all be ambitious.

I've attached a copy of the show poster.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Some Wild Ideas from Geoffrey Batchen

One of my favorite books on photography is Geoffry Batchen's Each Wild Idea. The book contains 9 essays wrestling with the histories of photography. My favorite chapter, not surprisingly, is on vernacular photography. Batchen's work attempts to elucidate the "complex matter of photography's conceptual, historical, and physical identity." He continues,

"Morphology is another of those issues that most histories of photography ignore. Indeed, the invisibility of the photograph, its transparency to its referent, has long been one of its most cherished features. All of us tend to look at photographs as if we are simply gazing through a two-dimensional window onto some outside world. This is almost a perceptual necessity; in order to see what the photograph is of, we must first repress our consciousness of what the photograph is. As a consequence, in even the most sophisticated discussions, the photograph itself--the actual thing being examined--is usually left out of the analysis. Vernacular photographies tend to go the other way, so frequently do they exploit the fact that the photograph is something that can also have volume, opacity, tactility, and a physical presence in the world. In many cases, the exploitation involves the the subject of the photograph's intervening within or across the photographic act. These subjects make us attend to their photography's morphologies, and thus to look right at rather than only through the photograph. In this sense, vernacular photo objects can be read not only as sensual and creative artifacts but also as thoughtful, even provocative meditations on the nature of photography itself" (Pages 59-60).

One of the trajectories of this show means to highlight is the physical nature of the photograph. Batchen's text was released in 2001, and since then the digital revolution has only picked up speed further minimizing the physicality of photographic objects. The vernacular photographic objects that I have collected over the past few months and will show intend to highlight the diversity from this relatively young medium. Varying in sizes and processes, the objects mounted in artifact trays, encapsulated in drawers, bins etc intend to suggest the physicality of the photo object. It has been interesting to me in this process the varying sizes, papers, and processes that were quickly cast away as the technology of photography advanced. Fewer and fewer sizes of film and prints were available over time to where we are now, if we print our images at all, have the options of 3.5x5, 4x6, 5x7 etc. Some of my favorite photos that I have collected are the smallest ones that are 2x3ish.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MFA Exhibition

Well it has been some time since my last post on Valentines Day. I have been busy nearly every day since working on pulling this show together. I am now less than 2 weeks from my oral defense (Tuesday 26th) and reception on Wednesday the 27th.

Above is mock-up of my postcard which should arrive tomorrow and hopefully get turned right back around into the mail.

Pictured is one of 10 drawers of thematically grouped photos designed to draw attention toward Modernity's archive methodology.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Print

So this past month 3rd Street Gallery here in Grand Forks had their annual show. Each year invite people to submit ideas for a theme for the show. The person who submitted the chosen theme gets to be on the postcard. This year the theme was Imitation. This is one of the two pieces that I submitted.

Monday, January 31, 2011

MFA Exhibit

In April, I will be presenting my MFA exhibit here at UND. It is the culmination of 3 years of work and research narrowed down into a cohesive show and theme, defended to ones chosen committee, and then (assuming you pass your final review) opened to the public. Well, I have taken a route I do not recommend. As of days a week before Thanksgiving last year, I changed my topic anddirection for the show from large cyanotype landscapes to considerations of the archive and vernacular photography. While I still love the large scale landscapes, I was unmotivated by the work and I wanted to push on something more conceptual...and it ended up on the idea of the archive. Essentially it will explore the way we think about objects...any historical object really, but I am using the vernacular photograph as an expression of this. The show will illustrate...exhibit...suggest (not finding the right word right now) the different approaches towards said objects between modernity and postmodernity. Over the past few months I have built an archive of vernacular photos with the help of Ebay...2 venders in particular have been of immense help selling their wares to me at decent prices.

For the past week and half I have been making frames...21 to be exact. These function as frames, but are meant to recall less framing and more specimen trays. Inside, I will mount a singular photographic object on a white back ground with a lithographed archive label that will be filled out by hand in pencil. These pieces will be one aspect of the "modern" direction of the show to suggests modernity's drive for isolating objects for objective readings.

Friday, January 28, 2011


As an artist, showing in exhibitions is one of the primary ways to build your CV. My first semester, my photography professor started encouraging me to enter shows at the local, regional, national, and international levels. I am thankful for her push in this direction. Since starting at UND I have had multiple opportunities to show in ND, MN, MT, WI, KY, MO, SD, NJ, and South Africa. 2011 is off to a good start with pieces in 5 different exhibits already this year. Last night was the opening for the UND TournARTment, the annual student show. I had one piece selected by the juror, Brian Frink, painting professor from Mankato State University in Mankato MN. The piece Contested Spaces: Mount Rushmore is proving especially popular at shows as it is in 3 different shows right now (MO, MT, ND).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Studio

I cannot believe the this is my last semester in UND's MFA program. It has gone by so quickly...three years. I have a hard time believing it when I write it. And in that time, I dont think I have ever put up pictures of my studio. I've put up pictures of my home office, the UND gallery and the printmaking studio, but not my personal studio at the Hughes. So here is my home away from home for the past 2.5 years.

Personally I think it is the nicest studio...perhaps the second nicest spot of all the studios spaces...its large and of course it has the beautiful window that looks out over the UND coulee. The wall on the left displays a lot of my test proofs and various failures of many of my early prints. When I started, these were a novelty to me so I kept them they go directly into the these will when I have to move out in a few months. Somehow, my studio mate and I have collected a high number of this photo there are 4 chairs and 1 stool. Why? I have no idea.

The graduate studios are locks, doors, barbed wire. This was, and still is a bit unnerving to me. Some of us have hundred or thousands of dollars of materials out in the open. And yet, very rarely does something go missing. I think I have lost some paper, and an aluminum ruler over my time. It has been said that people are more likely to take/borrow your tools and materials than your artwork...not sure what that says about the artwork, but all the same I am grateful for the a very low thievery rate among the students.

Such spaces are at a premium and most students share spaces with others working in similar mediums. They become strange emporiums of curious objects, hand-me-down supplies, failed work pieces, doodles, and lots of you can tell by the clutter of the area. This is my first real studio space...I had a cube area for painting in undergrad, but this space has been great. I will miss it when I leave...and what to do with all this stuff?

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Books

In preparation for my final exhibit coming at the end of April, I've been picking up a few books to help guide some of my thoughts on the project. I've been thinking a lot about the photographic object itself...its history, lost images, how they are used etc. Too often we tend to look "through" the photograph to the referent, subject or what is imaged. And yet, the object nature of the photograph cannot be separated from its subject.

The Art of the American Snapshot is a fabulous collection and history of vernacular photography. This is one of the first books I bought in this direction and it is definitely my favorite because of its diversity of photo techniques and essays, and sheer volume of images.

Another similar, and much smaller text is In the Vernacular. This book also functions like a very select group of images from an exhibition. They also break the images into various categories of archive, proof, surrogate, and yardstick. The images and their functions are explored through these categories.

I've also picked up a few texts on the photo album and its histories and functions. Suspended Conversations is the most recent text that I have purchased. More essays than photos, it looks to be a helpful guide. Snapshot Chronicles: Inventing the American Photo Album runs the other way with photographs of and interpretations of various antique photographs. The book itself invites touch with its green embossed felt cover.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NYC Architecture: Flatiron

It is curious to me how one experience can linger in my memory. On my first visit to NYC, I was walking with my spring service trip group from Northwestern College in Orange City Iowa, when we happened upon the Flatiron. I looked up and immediately recognized its form from Steiglitz and Steichen's images of it...

It is one of NYC
famous landmarks and most photographed buildings. That night as our group crossed the street below I pulled my camera from my coat randomly shot upwards with the flash attached. It created a remarkable image. Barely visible from the faint flash throw, the barrel curve rises from the bottom and quickly disappears into a sea of black. I've tried scanning and photographing the one copy that I have and fails to replicate the beauty each time. A few years later, I was in a taxi headed toward Battery Park and passed the structure. This time I stuck the camera out the window and snapped a few shots and was remarkably pleased with what came out. I love how the wire cuts across so nicely across the angle of the building.
This trip however, I made time to walk around the building, taking it in, and more carefully constructing my shots. The next day, we ended up going up the Empire State Building which provided me another vantage point of one of my favorite buildings. Enjoy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

NYC Architectural Abstraction

Back in November I had the opportunity to go to NYC with several fellow students and our printmaking professor. For those of you who dont know, I love NYC. I will admit that I am a tourist...looking at the buildings, watching people, etc. For someone who grew up on the prairies and loves watching the light drift lazily over fields, trees, and elevators I think that my love of line and hard edges find its source in NYC more than any other city. I love how light moves over, around, reflects, in perpetually changing angles and intensity. I marvel at the architecture itself, but also the interplay between one building and another especially in the mornings when light begins to scrape over and flit through the gaps between the buildings.

I've posted just a simple four shots of my favorites. Enjoy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A few New Pieces

Its been a crazy month and a half since I returned from NYC. Little time for anything other than finishing out the semester, let alone posting on the blog. My hope, as it always, is to post updates on my work and current endeavors. This new year my hope remains the same.

My recent work has taken my interest in lost vernacular photos and turned it into prints to explore the lost connections, narratives, roots, etc.. These two works take different but related approaches. Both use maps in a way as to suggest context. But upon closer inspection, the contexts of town and identifiers have been masked and scratched out. The first print uses a lithographic reproduction of the photographic image and replicates it and reverses the direction of one to amplify the confused nature of this lingering object. The second uses the map, printed on rice paper, then covered in wax to make it translucent, functions as a veil to the antique studio portrait.