September Alumni News
Welcome 2022 Graduates!
We are pleased to celebrate the 2022 Thesis Graduates
Rachel Demy, Andy Holton, Gwendolyn Emminger,
Janet Politte, and Matthew Ragen
Congratulations and welcome to your next phase as Alumni!
View a selection of their work and watch a recording of the panel conversation on the
2022 Thesis Exhibition Page
article by Joan Dinkelspiel, grad. 2017
Selena Kearney has a book coming out, Object / Ritual, through Minor Matters late this year. Minor Matters’ call for co-publishers is expected in November 2022. Join me in being among the many who will be co-publishers in presales to support this compelling work. Object / Ritual was born out of Selena’s pre-Thesis classes at PCNW; the work is inspired by the growing national condemnation of non-indigenous people donning Native American costumes for Halloween and other national celebrations, and by the use of stereotypical Native American imagery in branding for sports teams. Learn more about Kearney’s book here.
Raised on the Chehalis Reservation in Washington State, Selena Kearney uses photography to serve her community and as a means for artistic expression. Selena is rooted in strong kinship relations, which she fosters through her work. As an Indigenous person, she celebrates and documents cultural gatherings and ceremonies, hosting portrait events for tribal members. Her work examines Indigenous representation and American conquest, helping non-Native Americans, such as myself, understand American history in the context of an Indigenous view. Powerful and compelling work, in my opinion.
Since graduation and her Thesis Exhibition, Kearney’s Object / Ritual project has developed and grown. It’s yet to be exhibited in its entirety, and Kearney would welcome full exhibit of this work. In Kearney’s words: “The encounter of non-native people dressed in cheap Native American costumes had always been a surreal visual experience for me as an Indigenous person, and seeing the topic arise nationally made me curious about the power of the object. This curiosity provoked me to collect the costumes. I wanted to see the items in a stark, sterile display, similar to the ways our precious ancestral items are often displayed in captivity. My thesis project is a part of a larger series, Object / Ritual, developed over five years. Embedded with ambiguity and craft, it questions the relationship between subject and object by representing misappropriations of Native culture and confronting the commodification of Native identity… The fragmented and isolated objects viewed together point toward the cultural erasure inherent in American expansionism.”
Kearney holds a Certificate in Fine Art Photography from Photographic Center Northwest (2019) and is a candidate for a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Evergreen State College. She is the skipper for the elder-led canoe family from Suquamish, Spirit of the Raven, and works and lives in Seattle, Washington. Since graduating from PCNW in 2019, Kearney has participated in the King Street Station Residency, Santa Fe Photo Review (AKA: Review Santa Fe Photo Festival), exhibited in the Pained Vistas show at PCNW in early 2022, and is curating an upcoming South Seattle College exhibit on Salish-style weaving. She’s working on a photographic series taken in a small canoe on the Black and Chehalis rivers.
In her current studies at Evergreen State College, Kearney finds her exploration of other visual art mediums to be generative. “Drawing and writing help me to exercise other creative muscles. Returning to photography, I feel more experimental and freed up while shooting. It’s also refreshing to have artists practicing in other art forms critique your photographic work. I find they can get less caught up in the gear and technique, and have a unique focus on the image,” says Kearney.
On workflow: “I have a simple list I make once or twice a year of opportunities I’d like to apply for and put them on my calendar. If I’m working on a project, I give it as much time as I can to bring it to completion before I work on promoting it to share.” She cautions about launching a project on social media before it’s fully formed or letting social media viewer comments/clicks have much influence on her work.
For more about Selena Kearney:
interview by Lisa Ahlberg, grad. 2005
You exhibited at PCNW’s first ever Photo Zine and Book Fair this past July, can you tell us about the books you’ve published, Pardon My Creep and Show Me Yours?
Show Me Yours is a compilation of images and personal writings taken inside of twelve anonymous men’s bedrooms that explores ideas around masculine vulnerability, intimacy, the performance of the self, and the desire to be seen. This project was predicated on anonymity and permission – or what I like to call ‘sanctioned voyeurism’. Each of these men allowed me an hour or two to photograph their bedrooms and anything I found inside of them, under the condition that their identities would be excluded from the project. The emotional disclosure that kept surfacing in the form of diaries, notes, lists, and letters written by these men were surprising, and I began pairing them with images of the bedrooms as two forms of interiority that were being revealed. I worked on this project between 2015-2017 – when the political landscape was starting to shine a brighter spotlight onto toxic masculinity, vulnerability, heteronormative expectations around masculinity, the consequences of those expectations, etc. The book was self-published in 2018, printed by Conveyer Arts Editions, and includes 75 photographs along with a zine of text excerpts that transcribes all of the notes and diary entries.
Pardon My Creep is a collaboration with an artist and close friend, Kellye Eisworth, that weaves together found photographs of couples (sourced from thrift stores and eBay) with messages we received from men via online dating apps. The emotions conveyed in their words range from sad, thoughtful, bored, aggressive, and desperate. Some messages feel cold and impersonal, like automated form letters; others are inundated with aggressive, masculine bravado. Some men seem to genuinely want to connect. Placed together in conversation, their words become a surrogate for the connection the other is seeking. Since the photographs were forsaken or forgotten by their subjects, they no longer function as personal mementos, but instead as visual aides to describe the intimacy the messages are hoping to elicit. We self-published this book in March of 2020, just as the pandemic was overhauling the entire landscape of dating apps.
What was your experience at the Photo Zine and Book Fair?
The fair was such a wonderful experience, and it was so special to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in almost a decade. Photo books and zines are inherently very tactile, and after years of moving most creative endeavors to a virtual space it was nice to spend an entire day playing ‘show and tell’ (and sell!) with actual objects. PCNW served a really important role in my life for several years and being able to spend time there again and connect over a shared love of photography with new and familiar faces was really fun. I hope it happens again!
You exhibited recently in Marfa, Texas, can you tell us about the work shown there?
I exhibited an ongoing series called “Rupture” at Rule Gallery in Marfa, which looks at the residue of human-inflicted trauma as sensationalized through entertainment media. To create these photographs, I extracted scenes depicting hate crimes and domestic abuse from films and television series – infinitely repeatable in their original forms – and condensed them into singular images through long exposures that directly match their durations. Gestures obliterated into abstract stains, or saturated ‘bruises’, they accumulated on my camera’s sensor – a metaphor for how the human psyche distorts its own injuries through the gradual buildup of violence over time. I used the last words uttered in each scene as the title of its respective image, leaving visual and verbal erasure as the final traces of a ruptured narrative. This project speaks to my ongoing investigation into the complexities of post-traumatic stress disorder, the representational absence of interpersonal violence in our cultural consciousness, and erasure by way of accumulation. My solo show was supposed to open in April of 2020 and was pushed back a few months, for obvious reasons.
A long form curatorial interview about this show can be found on the Rule Gallery website here.
What motivated you to continue producing work after graduation from PCNW?
I used the PCNW Certificate Program as a stepping-stone to graduate school and went on to get my MFA in Photography shortly after completing my thesis show. That experience provided three additional years of deadlines, critiques, and incentives to keep making work, but after that my studio practice had to become self-motivated. I’m really interested in the idea of a consistent ‘practice’, of integrating creative work into your day or week like you would any other nonnegotiable routine. Working on something creative is the best mood stabilizing gift from the universe, so I try to keep that momentum.
How has your photographic career continued?
I continue to make art and teach photography classes remotely as an instructor for the University of Colorado’s Critical Media Practices Department. I’ve been living in the creative desert community of Marfa, Texas, for the past couple of years.
What are you working on now?
My most recent exhibition, “Carousel”, opened at Understudy Arts Incubator in Denver a few months ago. This was my isolation/pandemic project, comprising a series of line drawings made by tracing projections of Kodachrome slides from an abandoned, twenty-year long family archive sourced from an antique mall. Exhibited together, the drawings sort of reimagine this very mid-century, suburban, WASP-y, Americana moment as a critically nostalgic, reverse-engineered ‘coloring book’. This was the first time I’ve ever worked with drawing, although I still see the work as very photo-based.
For more about Britland Tracy:
AT THE PCNW PHOTO ZINE AND BOOK FAIR
article by Al Varady, grad. 2017
As much as I looked forward to the PCNW Photo Zine and Book Fair, which took place on July 24, 2022, I was unsure what it would be like. I wondered how many people would show up and what kind of work I’d see. I might have glanced at the list of exhibitors beforehand, which would have alerted me to how many people were going to exhibit (50 plus!).
Arriving, I saw immediately how full the first floor was with tables and exhibitors putting out their signs and work. I recognized a few faces and was also surprised to see what groups they were a part of, and the work they’d produced. Anybody who knows anything about capital “P” Photography knows what a wide range of work falls under the auspices of that form. What I saw was just that as I went from table to table, sometimes engaging with the artists, but mostly looking at what was presented.
Upstairs, the Daylight Studio was packed with exhibitors and visitors. I saw Britland Tracy, a graduate of the Certificate Program (2014), and the work she’d recently done. We’d taken a Photoshop class together and being able to see and hear about what she’d been doing about online dating encounters (a poor summation) was a pleasant moment.
I talked with Ebenezer Galluzzo about their remarkable work, which I also circled back later to purchase. Next, I spoke with Jessica Cantlin (long-time PCNW community member, to be featured in the upcoming PCNW 2022 Benefit Auction Preview Exhibition), about her exceptional body of work concerning beaches. It struck me how similar coasts can look around the world and how stunning they were.
I was able to visit with Jody Poorwill (long-time PCNW community member, most recently featured in PCNW’s 23rd Juried Exhibition in 2020) and their notable output as Sand & Gravel Press, which featured many collaborations. Next to Jody, I learned about risographs from Paper Press Punch and purchased one.
Natalie Krick’s “Natural Deceptions” was available at the Skylark Editions table, as was Natalie who signed my copy. I was also able to secure Cat Cactus by Stephen Eichhorn at that table; it’s a puzzle that I’d eyed on their website during the pandemic.
I spoke with Jake Nelson, a Seattle University student, who had several zines for sale. He writes personal narratives to accompany his images, and I purchased one as well.
Jenny Riffle’s “Scavenger” project has interested me since I’d first seen it and being able to secure a set of the stereographs was a box well-checked.
I have mentioned most of what I acquired, but do not let that speak for the whole of the experience. There really was so much, too much of course, to absorb in the five hours of the event. I felt like a shore bird hopping from island to island before I finally left, glad to have been able to see some of what was being made. You can view a full list of exhibitors on the PCNW website here.
What strikes me now is how much work, varied as any species, is being made and perhaps the greatest strength of this event was making it visible and available. We all know what a book is (though rightly debate any definition) but seeing what was presented showed me what photographers can do in their respective tide pools too often unseen.
Editor’s Note: Many alumni were present as exhibitors at the PCNW Photo Zine and Book Fair. We captured their involvement in some photos here.
Contact the following for work exhibited:
Push/Pull Cluster 1-9 Box Set — Jon Maclaren at firstname.lastname@example.org
Backstage Pass — Anna Ream at email@example.com
Zines by Andy Holton — Andy Holton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rat City Streets — Lisa Ahlberg at email@example.com
Pardon My Creep and Show Me Yours — Britland Tracy at britlandtracy.com
Full list of exhibitors — PCNW Photo Zine & Book Fair 2022
Interested in making your own Zine?
PCNW is offering an Intro to DIY Photography Zines workshop this fall – it is already full, but you can add yourself to the wait-list in case a spot opens up and to be notified of future opportunities.
Join us in celebrating the coming publication of one our newest graduates!
Rachel Demy’s first book, Between, Everywhere, is forthcoming from Minor Matters. Her collaboration with Death Cab for Cutie brings to the page the nomadic life of touring musicians.
Rachel graduated from PCNW in June 2022. Available from minormattersbooks.com
Book cover image courtesy Minor Matters and Rachel Demy.
PCNW ALUMNI ASSOCIATION UPDATE
The PCNW Alumni Association is for all graduates of the PCNW Certificate Program.
We now have a volunteer leadership committee that seeks to deepen the connection between alumni and PCNW, and to explore ways in which both entities can further support, elevate, and celebrate one another. The current volunteers are Sarah King, Harini Krishnamurthy, James Kuan, Lisa Ahlberg, Stacy Osterman, and Anna Ream.
This new formal committee intends to renew itself on a regular basis, with new members, and we think it can lead to some great initiatives. What are your ideas? Want to help out? Tell us what you’re up to – we want to highlight you! The more of a us involved, the more we can do.
- Want to help with a fall Salon Event that features a one-night celebration of student and alumni work?
- Are you good at social media and want to help us create a connection among Alumni to further build community and highlight our work?
- Do you want to be part of an Alumni Critique Group?
- Do you want to put together an Alumni Directory?
- Do you want to help with this Newsletter?
- Can you help us organize Alumni Panels on topics of interest, such as portfolio reviews, how to stay creative, editorial and commercial work, etc?
- Do you want to work with others to get more alumni work showcased in exhibitions?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thanks to all the alumni who contributed to making this issue of the newsletter happen — especially Lisa Ahlberg, Jennifer Brendicke, Joan Dinkelspiel, and Al Varady.
PCNW Alumni Association