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Education Expectation

October 7, 2010


University Lounge, Uzbekistan, 2010

When I’m teaching photography, the line between a “good” picture and a “not-so-good” photograph is clear to me, but I begin to wonder when comparing what curators see as “good,” I don’t think I’ve become Mr. Jones, as in Dylan’s, “You know something is happening, but you don’t know what it is…” I just feel that the world of contemporary art is on shaky ground.

I’ve been looking at mediocre imagery throughout the photography blog world these past couple of weeks. It has discouraged me from even posting. The final blow was struck by Blind Spot, that great little magazine that usually maintains the delicate balance of art and sanity by walking a ledge atop some building in New York City. Their latest issue is a real snore. And I hate to bring up the New Photography 2010 show at the Museum of Modern Art. I’m not going to post any of those pictures. They aren’t all bad, I just don’t want to get bent about the work having not actually seen it hanging on the Museum’s walls.


Chalkboard, University, Uzbekistan, 2010


I’m posting a few pictures I made this past summer in Uzbekistan. They’re about education, although, I’m still figuring out what I am learning from them.


Faculty office door, Uzbekistan, 2010



Classroom door, Uzbekistan, 2010



University sanitorium, Uzbekistan, 2010


Do my students make room in their lives for creativity to surface? My goal is to get them to leap into love with picture making.


University Photo Department, Uzbekistan, 2010

Art making is hard, but life without art is unthinkable.



Hallway, University, Uzbekistan, 2010

Fresh from our department of self promotion– I am in a show at the Paper City Studios on 80 Race Street in Holyoke, Massachusetts that opens Friday the 8th of October 2010. It will run through October 30th. I’ll be showing pictures from Central Asia, but not the above images. There are 12 photography artists on exhibit including three talents to watch–Sarah Holbrooke, Dan Chiamis and Bob Horowitz.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2010 11:43 pm

    I think you and I would find common ground on the discussion of contemporary photography in the digital era. What has tainted photography, is the over hyper contextualized usage of the camera. Not as a vehicle of photographic and artistic creation, but as a mode, a means of social communication. Photography now, within this digital era, produces less and less artist models of true photographic representation. I personally contribute in some ways to the digitized filth that exists in the contemporary world. It disgusts me to the point I often question why it is we are producing this work and who is it really for. I feel as if I missed out on some of the greatest years in photography. The more I try and grasp the concept of what it was like to make images during the time period of Nan Goldin, or Francis Benjamin Johnston, or to be an iconic image, such as Steichen and Steiglitz. We no longer see artists and photographers that define periods and manifest movements. We see everyone in the world with a camera attached to their hands.

    I feel a radical restructuring of how we view photography in the contemporary world needs to come about. I can fully say that I know you as an educator provide that to your students. You provide students with a view into what photography was, is, and can still be. You’re a vast, wealth of resourceful artistic and photographic knowledge. In a discussion a few days ago, I had mentioned how in an educational institution the core foundation, Photo 1, sets in stone and concretes what photography is. How you interact and educate students, shape and mold their minds eye, is crucial to the maturing vision in each student. Some TA’s or Grad student teachers fail to realize they have the potential to make such a difference and impact on the lives of photographers. You however have fully embraced this as an educator. It is this thought that solidifies the pride I have in knowing my formal education was handed to me with compassion for an eagerness to learn.

    • October 8, 2010 7:45 am

      Thanks, Jeff. I’ve got to understand our camera’s expanding role in today’s society. I don’t mind that so much new work is boring. After all boredom is something the viewer brings to the exhibition+viewer equation. I have to ask why is the artist interested in creating this? What is the purpose, or even the need for these new pictures? Anyway, I hope to have an opportunity to see your show at 380R when I go down to 80 Race this evening.

  2. October 8, 2010 8:02 am

    I love these pictures! And I know what you mean about the shaky world of fine art lately, and how the lines seem to be moving according to the whims of the self-appointed and all-powerful. Quite frankly (giggle) it has become standard that whatever is deemed “in” or “ART” by “them”, is in, and all else it out (not actually any sort of new phenomenon, just perpetuating exponentially). That’s too bad as it can mean that in come spheres making fine art is about following and jumping on trends more than anything. And, sadly, can often be about sales techniques or shock. I should audit your class next spring (I don’t go out in winter if I can help it) because I totally respect and admire your work fully and redundantly, and would love to learn from you. yeah, I am always going to audit classes and learn. But I am a happy hermit.

    And, speaking of art conflagrations and la-di-da—last year Carol Diehl of Art in America, wrote a great blog post on the super-inflated and absurdist art-speak at the Whitney Biennial and to further absurdize it, I added fashion to it (and called it a collaboration, thus further mocking some of the ever-morphing tenets of the art world and ‘them’. 😉 She liked it and in turn, posted on her blog about my piece.

    That post is here,

    I’d LOVE to see you put selected photography from the ‘winningspere’ to such “labels”, but then you’d be courting outrage for posting others’ work merely to call attention to it in a less than reverent way. 😉

    Keep up the good work Frank!

    • October 8, 2010 8:03 am

      “some”, some spheres, sigh. my typist quit over my run-on sentences.

    • October 8, 2010 9:46 pm

      Mo, Love your high fashion art post. Thanks for the link. Great to see you tonight, and I’m impressed with your new digs, complete with a man in the shower! You are going to love being back in beloved Holy Yoke.

  3. October 8, 2010 8:26 am

    The essence of photography lies within the individual photographer: what is the photographer looking for and what is the photographer seeing and then how does the photographer correlate those two pursuits.

    When standing in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art, I have seen people from the Orient simply begin to take pictures without even thinking about the act. In New York, people walking along the street, one would think were tourists, take pictures of anything and everything. Jeffrey is right. The camera is no longer valued as a tool for making creative decisions. It is simply a recording device. Cameras come on intelligent phones. Cameras have no specialness anymore. And for that reason, the images that come through and are believed by “artists” to have importance don’t.

    This phenomenon happened to painting in the eighties when it was being absorbed by the video camera. Imagery on canvas found itself in a coffin rather than being alive to evoke deep emotions in the audience.

    Video cameras: another tool that has no specialness. YouTube: need I say more?

    So the specialness comes in the person who uses the tools. If the “artist” has adopted no real perspective on subject matter, a photograph will mean nothing, possess emptiness, and have no impact. Gee, could that be the art? I don’t think so, unless it is specified.

    • Frank Ward permalink*
      October 23, 2010 8:50 am

      Thanks for your insight, Lyn. I checked out your blog and think it looks great. Love your visionary visions.

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