Friday, November 30, 2007

About This: The ICP Faculty Exhibition

I am excited and honored to have a piece included in the ICP Faculty Exhibition which opens tonight in the Education Gallery. When I moved to New York in the summer of 2005, I brought along a New York dream to teach at this incredible institution, and was amazed and terrified when this dream came to fruition in the winter of 2006. I spent my first many months in this city feeling like a cross between Dorothy From Kansas and Joe Buck, and still do much of the time, but my involvement with the School of the International Center of Photography has given me the opportunity to form meaningful relationships within a vital photographic community and to participate in an ongoing dialogue about photography.

The current installment of ICP faculty exhibitions explores the potent relationship between image and text. The works exhibited here use text in a variety of ways: to tell a story that may not be visible in the image, to undermine the conventional reading of an image, or to provide the viewer with extended interpretive information. The combination of image and text produces dimensions of meaning that would not be generated by either alone. And the artists' use of both visual and written expression provides insight into his or her motivation and process.

Curator: Stuart O'Sullivan

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Installation of "Nirvana"
Jason Lazarus
November 2007

Photographer friend and former student in a previous century, Jason Lazarus, began a project last spring asking friends and strangers to send him images of the person who introduced them to Nirvana. A group of these motley snapshots from the early 90's landed in Jason's solo exhibition that opened this month at D3PROJECTS in Los Angeles.

I sent Jason a pair of Polaroids of my high school "cover boyfriend," Dave, along with a short story about sexuality, friendship and painful transitions which you can find posted on my blog in July under "Break ups". Or you can decipher the story from my rough draft below, which gives you some idea of what my writing looks like until I sit down at the computer.

Dave is pictured above second from the right.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Confessions of a Window Dresser

Last fall, I was drawn into an unforeseen line of freelance work dressing windows and photographing windows at night for the downtown department store, Bergdorf Goodman. It was a bit like blindly falling in love with a lot of things all at once: an elegant old store, a team of creative people, an art director and his assistants, long and heated conversations in small and intimate spaces, and daily rituals that include ladder-climbing, painting, hanging, lifting, tiling, glueing, decorating, shopping and gazing at people on 5th Ave. and 58th Street.

The greatest efforts go into producing windows for the Christmas season, and this year's Christmas windows celebrate the late Tony Duquette, an eccentric and visionary artist and interior designer. Tony Duquette, like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, began his career dressing windows for department stores. He later designed sets for Hollywood movies, Broadway musicals, ballets and operas, as well as interiors for commercial and public spaces. His Beverly Hill's estate, DAWNRIDGE, still serves as a design headquarters and was part of the inspiration for Bergdorf's DuQuette windows.

A book about this legendary figure written by Wendy Goodman and Hutton Wilkinson, his design collaborator and business partner, was recently released, and limited edition copies are currently on sale at Bergdorf Goodman for a mere $250. I have included some images from the book-signing party on November 14th depicting just a few of the many artists in the visual department whom are responsible for creating these magical windows, along with details of the windows themselves.

Hutton Wilkinson signing Tony DuQuette books

5th Ave. Window: "Earth"


5th Ave. Window: "Light"

David, Dmitri and Shane

5th Ave. Window: "Light"

Jay and Donna

5th Ave. Window: "Light"

Kevin and Florent

5th Ave. Window:"Light"

Randy, Maureen and Rubin

5th Ave. Window: "Water"

Hutton, David, Wendy and Linda

5th Ave. Window: "Water"

Ron and Shane

5th Ave. Shadowbox


5 Ave. Window: "Air"

Johanna and Ryan

5th Ave. Window: "Air"

Douglas and Shane

5th Ave. Window: "Fire"

Rubin and friend

5th Ave. Window: "Fire"

Ron and Jay

5th ave. Window #8

Brandon and J.J.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sara and Sarah

Place Settings
from North Dakota project
copyright Sara Code-Kroll

Down in the Basement
Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church
copyright Sarah Madsen

Last night, two guest photographers, Sara Code-Kroll and Sarah Madsen, presented their work to my class, "Photographing the Everyday", at the ICP. I met Sara and Sarah last spring when they were both working for Laumont, a photo lab where I had some prints made. I discovered that they were both photographers from the Midwest and later had the opportunity to see some of their work in an exhibition at Phoenix Gallery.

As a Midwesterner, I inevitably feel an affinity towards photographers from the Midwest making work about the Midwest. I immediately responded to the qualities of stillness, spaciousness, straightforwardness and subtle strangeness in both Sara and Sarah's images.

Sara's current project consists of images of her home state, North Dakota. She has photographed vast open landscapes, houses and churches, a senior center, interiors of stores and the abundant taxidermy found in this region. Her landscape images capture the tranquility and otherworldliness of the far north known for hunting and corn fields and harsh winters and the Coen Brother's Fargo.

I was reminded of the work of another photographer from North Dakota, Brian Lesteberg, who now lives and works in Minneapolis. While he was a student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Brian began a stunning series of photographs called Raised to Hunt based on his experiences growing up in a culture of hunting. His images of the North Dakota landscape are stark and dramatic and infused with the intensity and beauty of cold air, darkening skies and traces of animal blood.

Sarah Madsen grew up in another state with no shortage of cornfields. She has recently returned to her hometown in Iowa to photograph the basement of the Presbyterian Church where her father led a parish. Given a lack of funds for upkeep, the church basement, like so many church basements all over this country, has retained it's fading decor from previous decades. These rooms she has portrayed are quiet, humble, full of pathos and integrity and good intention.

My father's father was a Methodist minister whose vocation brought his family to churches throughout small towns in Illinois, and my own memories of childhood lead me back to these Midwestern interiors. And in later years, I spent countless hours in church basements in Minnesota in a process of recovery, and so these kinds of rooms have a personal resonance and poignancy.

Sara and Sarah's journeys to make pictures suggest the different ways photographers discover what to photograph. While Bill Sullivan, our previous guest photographer, finds his inspiration in the city, these two expressed their need to leave the chaos and over-stimulation of the urban environment and return to quieter places where they can see more clearly and find meaning in the everyday that is relevant and important to their own histories.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Int'l Flea Market
Tampa, FL
February 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Deer Head on Floor
Pinellas Park, FL
February 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

White Tigers

White Tigers
Kissimmee, FL
February 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Blue Guitar

Blue Guitar
Austin, TX
August 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Interstate 35
August 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bill Sullivan

from "More Turns"
copyright Bill Sullivan

One of the aspects of teaching at the ICP that I have enjoyed the most is recruiting photographers to present their work to my classes. My guest photographers have included Barry Stone, Marc McAndrews, Jason Falchook, Mickey Kerr, and Heather Musto.

This past Friday, another guest photographer, Bill Sullivan, spoke about his work to students in my current class, "Photographing the Everyday." I met Bill last fall during lunch at a bbq restaurant in Manhattan with photographers, Brian Ulrich and Christian Patterson. I had been living in New York for just over a year and was feeling the stress and depression of trying to simultaneously get my feet on the ground in a new city and figure out how to escape it's clutches to take photos back there in "America". Christian said these kind of feelings were normal, and Brian said there was nothing "normal" about the practice of photography - that trying to capture reality through a lense was essentially not a normal way to relate to the world. Those two should know something about photography, and it was helpful to hear their insights.

When I later looked at Bill's website,, I was struck by a number of things about Bill's work. First of all, Bill has one of the most engaging websites I have ever seen - simple, but brilliantly designed and appropriate to experiencing the repetition and symmetry in the framing of his images. Bill has embraced New York and New Yorkers as his subjects, and made something altogether contemporary and unique out of the tradition of street photography by developing strategies for shooting people in Times Square, people exiting elevators and people passing through subway turn-styles. It was interesting to hear Bill describe the massive number of images he shot to achieve his final edits, as well the methods he used to hide his camera and position himself in a effort to make a connection with faces without directly confronting his subjects. Ultimately, Bill arrived at an extensive series of portraits depicting the gamut of New Yorkers in the midst of everyday existence - and what is more quintessential to the urban experience than these public spaces that bring us into contact daily with all walks of life?

I thought students who are also shooting on the streets of New York might be inspired by Bill's conceptual processes, and we certainly liked picturing him as a spy with his cool gadgets and special bags and outfits to disguise his identity as a photographer.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Field Guide to the North American Family

This week, I received my copy of A Field Guide to the North American Family, an illustrated novella by Garth Risk Hallberg, in which two of my photographs, Front Yard and Bird Feeder, were published along with photos by many other artists, some of whom are friends in the photo world. It was quite moving to see this project, which began as a quirky website, come to fruition in such a beautiful book.

In the beginning stages of this project, Garth asked contributing photographers to submit images that interpreted a range of topics surrounding the notion of the modern family, such as "Adolescence", "Holiday", "Intimacy" and "Rebellion", and the website grew with a wealth of visual responses. Sixty-three of these images were selected to accompany diary-like entries in the book, which tells a story about two families, the Hungates and the Harrisons, living in the suburbs of New York.

The experience of the book is poetic and melancholic - images of skies and windows and dark streets and interior spaces emptied of their inhabitants reoccur throughout, and most of the figures who do appear seem absorbed in their own dreamworlds. I was struck by how harmoniously these images work together and suggest a shared vision, which was ultimately the result of Garth's curatorial and editing processes.

One of my favorite images in the book illustrates an entry about "Tradition" and was taken by a photographer, Mickey Kerr. The image depicts a snow-covered plastic Santa Claus next to a Coke machine in a gas station parking lot at night in Brooklyn.

Mickey grew up the suburbs of Kansas and now lives in New York City. He shot an incredible series of night photographs in both Brooklyn and in suburban Kansas called "Sights & Sounds" which you can find on his website,

I met Mickey while he was re-printing one of these gorgeous and haunting images in the color darkroom at the ICP, and later asked him to present his work to a class I was teaching last winter called "Photographing at Night". Recently, I noticed that Mickey shot these images in the winter of 2003, which was the same year I shot some of my own winter night photos in Minnesota. I must confess, I am in awe of Mickey's night scenes. I trust that many photographers can relate to the experience of finding something in another photographer's work that hits uncannily close to home - that feeling when someone else found the elusive thing you were looking for.

Fortunately, Mickey is a swell guy, and I love him for it. I am honored to be included in book with him and with a lot of other amazing photographers.

Front Yard

Bird Feeder