Meditations On Being a Phoenix Featured in Dodho Online Photography Magazine

And today on Dodho​ my Meditations on Being A Phoenix images and extended, personal writing on the series are featured!

Phoenix_2

Paper House Featured in Dodho Online Photography Magazine

Today my series Paper House is featured in Dodho, an online magazine out of Barcelona. Feeling honored to be given the opportunity to have my work reach new audiences!

Paper House_1

Paper House featured in Light Leaked

Today my series Paper House is featured in the online photography journal Light Leaked. Thanks to founding editor Ashley Kauschinger for selecting my work to be featured!

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Meditations on Being a Phoenix reviewed in the Hartford Courant

This week arts writer for the Hartford Courant, Susan Dunne, reviewed my Meditations on Being a Phoenix show at Gallery 136 1/2.

You can read the article here.

HartfordCourantPhoto

 

News, Exhibitions and Workshops

Hello friends and welcome to the return of my newsletter. I hope to provide you with some exciting news and updates every six months or so in regards to my photographic endeavors. As some of you know the last several years have been filled with some professional and personal milestones: marriage, building a home, traversing state lines to teach new and exciting classes, and a return to graduate school to earn another MFA degree. I earned my second MFA in 2013 through Christopher James’ new MFA in Photography program at Lesley University College of Art and Design (formerly Art Institute of Boston). Since then I have been able to return my full attentions to my photography with a new sense of purpose and focus. The first step in this focus was a redesign and update of my website which finally is more compatible with mobile devices. I am continuing to make small improvements on the usability and aesthetics of the site. Please check it out here.Here are some of the things I’ve been up to in the last year…

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

Opening this Saturday May 2nd is the first solo exhibit for my new series Meditations on Being a Phoenix. This body of work has been in progress over the last 2 years and has taken many incarnations before reaching its final form as large pigment prints under encaustic wax and oil. The opening reception is from 5-7pm this Saturday at Gallery 136 1/2. The show runs until May 30th
 
 
 
This past Thursday the show Everyday Icon: An Exhibition of Artist Fellowship Recipients opened at The Gallery at Constitution Plaza. Inclusion in the exhibit is a result of being awarded a Connecticut Office of the Arts Artist Fellowship. A selection of my Ziatype prints from Paper House will be on display as a part of the exhibit until July 2nd.
amc logoOpening on June 6th at the Margaret L. Macdonough Gallery is the three person invitational exhibition Through A Glass Refracted. This show is a special one for me, I get to exhibit a selection of the Meditations on Being a Phoenix photographs alongside works by my two closest friends from college, artists Paula Robins and Adam Lein. This show takes place during the Alumni Reunion weekend at Albertus Magnus College. There will be an opening reception from 2:30-5pm on June 6th, please RSVP here if you plan to attend. 
 

Publication

I am thrilled to have a selection of my photographs and the research work I did on the Athenatype process published in Christopher James‘ 3rd edition of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes which was released in March. As a result of my Connecticut Office of the Arts Fellowship I was able to travel to Santa Fe to work directly with Christopher and Dick Sullivan in researching process which is referenced in the Athenatype chapter. Its an honor to be among such great practitioners and friends in the pages of this book!
 

Workshops

On May 23rd I will be conducting an Encaustic Play Day Workshop at PhotoSynthesis in Manchester, CT. This is a great opportunity to learn some of the less technical and more serendipitous features of using encaustic wax, pigments and oil on the surface of a photograph. More information on this workshop can be found here.In addition to teaching Alternative Photographic Processes at Lesley University College of Art and Design I will be conducting a class in Alternative Processes at Central Connecticut State University which made a comeback as a course offering last Fall, this is a no prerequisite class and can also be audited. To get a feel for what happens in this course please take a look at the video I created with my husband, videographer Mike Zych.
 

Miscellaneous


My year has been filled with some great opportunities to share photography and to work with other artists who I greatly respect.Earlier this month I participated in the New York Portfolio Review hosted by the New York Times. It was an honor being among the 5% of applicants accepted into this event and to meet and network with many great practitioners and professionals. I hope to have some more news to share soon as a result of the reviews I had at this event. 

Over the past year I worked as a Photography Research Consultant to author Kathy Leonard Czepiel for her upcoming historical novel about a female photographer working within the early to mid 20th century. This book does not yet have a release date but I look forward to sharing more info on what I know will be an enjoyable read for photographers.

Lesley University College of Art and Design interviewed me on my work as an MFA candidate and my experiences of post graduate life, that interview can be found here.

I shared my love of historical and hand made processes as a visiting artist for Avon Old Farms Preparatory school in Avon, CT and for Canton High School in Canton, CT. Students learned the trials of the modern dry plate tintype process and how to make a human sized Cyanotype photogram outdoors in the cold and unpredictable New England Spring.

Last October I participated in the Careers in the Arts panel at Tunxis Community College where I met and shared my experiences with several enthusiastic budding artists. Please stay tuned for more photography related news. In the mean time you can find me online: 

Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
Twitter
Website
Website
Instagram
Instagram

Jessica Somers ~ 2012 in Review, 2013 Happenings

© Jessica Somers, 2012
© Jessica Somers, 2012

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Greetings and Happy 2013!  I hope this newsletter finds you well and that 2012 was good to you. My year was filled with many creative adventures that I am thankful for. I continued my journey towards earning a second MFA in photography at The Art Institute of Boston as a member of the inaugural class in Christopher James’ new program. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given as a student, receiving the continual challenges and rewards within the academic process. It will be a bittersweet experience when my studies conclude this May. I have already begun to feel the positive impact this experience is bringing to my art. On my website you can view some of the new work I have created as a result of my MFA program.

I was also involved in several group exhibitions and in addition to my regular college teaching schedule was able to teach some Alternative Photographic Process workshops. I will be expanding my workshop offerings in 2013 and will be offering instruction on a brand new alternative process, Athenatype, recently developed by Bostick and Sullivan co-owner, Richard Sullivan.

One of my high points this year was being awarded a 2012 Artist Fellowship Award by the The Connecticut Office of the Arts which allowed me to travel to Santa Fe to work directly with Dick Sullivan and Christopher James on the Athenatype in order to further understand and troubleshoot the process to be included in Christopher James’s upcoming 3rd Edition of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. 

I thank you for your continued interest and support in my work and I wish you a peaceful and healthy 2013.

Jessica

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While I do not have any exhibitions lined up for 2013 as of yet, I am pleased to announce I will be the juror for Coburn Gallery’s upcoming national exhibition Coburn Goes Small featuring artworks no larger than 20″ x 20.” Exhibition Prospectus to be posted in early 2013.

2012 Exhibitions:

Visual Texts, The Jewett Gallery of Art, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, curated by Ben Sloat

Four Perspectives-The Human Experience, Tools, New Britain, CT, curated by Craig Frederick

Alternative Processes, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO

AIB MFA in Photography Exhibition, Panopticon Gallery, Boston, MA, curated by Jason Landry

MFA in Photography Inaugural Exhibition, University Hall at Lesley University, Boston, MA

Illusion and Chemistry: The Alternative Process, The Kiernan Gallery, Lexington,VA

Workshops:

In 2012 I had a great time teaching workshops in Ziatype, Kallitype and Modern Dry-Plate Tintype. In 2013 I will be expanding my workshop offerings…

Intro to Alternative Processes: Things have come full circle. At Albertus Magnus College, the school where I first learned about alternative processes and made my first alt pro prints I will be teaching the college’s inaugural Alternative Photographic Processes class, an intensive 1 week course which runs from January 7th-11th. Please check my facebook page to view the progress of the class during their week long journey. 

Athenatype Workshop: I will be instructing a workshop on the brand new alternative process Athenatype at PhotoSynthesis, LLC on January 12th-13th. Dick Sullivan has recently developed this all new alternative photographic process and PhotoSynthesis is the first venue to offer a workshop dedicated exclusively to Athenatype. 

The Personal Project: I have long believed that what drives an individual to create is more than just talent or craftsmanship. The desire to create comes from our experiences, the need to express the things we see and feel, a way to understand our desires and fears. This workshop being held at PhotoSynthesis, LLC is for advanced amateur and professional photographers looking to strengthen their personal connection to their work and for those seeking guidance in moving forward with an existing project. This workshop is not limited to photographers; artists working with an interdisciplinary approach are welcome. There are two opportunities to take this class – Session 1: March 6, 13, 20, 27, April 2, Wednesdays 6:00-9:00pm or Session 2: May 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5, Wednesdays 6:00-9:00pm… Participants are welcome to take both sessions if they wish to continue working on a more long-term project.

Ziatype Workshop: My most popular workshop returns to PhotoSynthesis, LLC. The ziatype is a modern alternative photographic process reminiscent of the 19th century platinum process, though it is more user-friendly and cost-friendly than the platinum process. When ziatypes are printed onto paper prepared with a salted gelatin sizing, commonly used in 19th century photography, the richness of tones and luminosity of highlights become more dramatic than what is possible with unsalted papers. This class is a two day intensive and runs from June 1st-June 2nd.

Writing:

My grandfather was one of my earliest photographic influences. I would like to leave you with this essay on Photography and Culture which I wrote in honor of my grandfather…

Photography and Culture, for Pop-Pop

I was recently asked to consider my personal life in relation to visual culture. As an artist working in photography, possibly the most democratized art form there is, I am acutely aware of how both my personal life and culture have been influenced by photographic images.

My Grandfather was the first photographer I ever knew. He showed me what it meant to see the world through the camera’s eye and the ideals he and my grandmother instilled in our family help me to see The American Dream is more than myth.  I post this here for him today, on what would have been his 97th birthday, as an examination of the art form I first experienced through his lens and as a tribute to a man who is missed very much.

 

Pop-Pop

My grandfather’s self-portrait in black and white is a photograph that invokes many romanticized ideals. The year is 1940, “Pop-Pop” sits in a dark, unrecognizable space. He lights a cigarette with a single match, the light illuminates his young face. He is in a country that by the end of the year will enter into a war that will define his generation. He will serve in this war and survive this war. He is three years from marriage, five years from parenthood, twenty-nine years from inheriting the title “Pop-Pop,” fifty-four years from the crushing loss of his wife, fifty-five years from death. When this photo was made so many of these things were unknown and yet to be. When I look at this portrait I take it in with the full context of his life, yet through a filter of love and time.

I see a Norman Rockwell-esque existence through this image. This self-portrait conjures up Rockwell’s well known Triple Self-Portrait. This self-portrait, made twenty years after my grandfather’s, depicts another white American, middle-class male in a button down shirt with his tobacco delivery system of choice hanging from his lips. Both images feel warm, comforting and safe. They inspire thoughts of The Greatest Generation, a group of people that acted out the American Dream, giving birth to nuclear families and living “happily ever after.” Education and experience has taught me that these notions are mostly ideological constructs; constructs that in recent years have been referenced in the mythic speech of political campaigns reminiscing on a bygone American culture. However, these ideals are part of my foundation and relationship to family, American culture, art and most specifically my chosen field in the arts, photography.

At first, photography was a way for me to share what I believed to be my unique vision of the world. I would take close ups of old furniture, highlighting the intricacies of form, I captured breathtaking landscapes in filtered autumn light. I looked to the photographers who influenced my grandfather’s generation’s relationship to country. Ansel Adam’s dramatically grand American West landscapes, Paul Strand’s quaint New England views, Dorothea Lange’s and Walker Evan’s depictions of worn yet resilient migrant families all drove my desire to capture the monumental and familiar details of my culture.

My grandfather’s photographic ventures did not end with one self-portrait. There are many images, the majority are of my own family, each photograph depicting a suspended moment. For me, all of these photographs are fragments that piece together a romantic notion of life in the Golden Age of post World War II America. I have always tried to find and hold onto these notions in everyday life. I am a romantic and this way of relating to life undoubtedly comes from my family and the preservation of our best selves through family photographs.

In my early years as a photographer I searched to find and maintain this romantic myth of my culture. This was not always easy to achieve in an academic climate. When I earned my first master’s degree in photography I began my studies at the age of twenty-four, the same age as my grandfather at the time he created his self-portrait. I was heavily criticized by my peers and instructors for my mystified approach to making photographs in the style of the modernist photographers of the 1930s and 40s. I was attempting to resist the demystification that came with acknowledging that the society of my youth was not always good and wholesome. I was searching for threads of these ideals to grasp onto in order to maintain an innocent view of my life. I have since transitioned from being an artist who holds on to the ways of the past to inform my views of the present, to an artist who examines how the myths of my culture have informed my self-identity. Within this motivation to critique culture is forever a longing for re-mystification, a wish that an innocent understanding of the world could be regained and become fact. Was the Golden Age of my grandfather’s generation formed out of this same longing? Perhaps the pursuit of the American Dream was The Greatest Generation’s effort to undo the demystification brought by The Great Depression and World War II.

I believe each generation suffers their own social and cultural demystification. For my grandfather it was The Great Depression and World War II, for my parent’s generation it was the assassination of Kennedy and the Vietnam War; for my generation it was the events of 9/11 and the war on terrorism. These are all events that challenged our perception of life. What role has photography played in shaping these perceptions? Just one individual photograph of a man in a darkened room lit by a single match has contributed to my understanding of post World War II America. I think of many photographs depicting the generations that came before me that hold a certain amount of mystery and nostalgia created through my distance from the time period in which the image was made. My relationship to these photographs instills in me a greater responsibility as both a photographer and art educator. The context of time, culture and society must be ever present in the consideration of the arts and media. We may connect with that which is idyllic and iconic in photographs from the past yet we must be conscious of the challenges and realities any generation faces. We must do this so that the myths of each generation do not singly define our individual selves or our society.

In the year before my grandfather passed I shared with him some of my first photographs, ones that were heavily influenced by his approach to the medium. Much of my grandfather’s pride in the life he had worked hard to establish slipped away with the death of my grandmother; it was hard for him to express anything but sadness. Still, we were able to connect through our love of a technically precise, classically composed photograph. Self-portraits are now my dominant approach to photography. I do not know if what compelled him to turn the camera on himself seventy-two years ago is that which drives me to do the same. Yet, the lens that sits on my camera is the very lens he used. Time and life may have changed my relationship with photography but at the heart of the work the bond remains the same.

Jessica Somers ~ 2011 in Review, 2012 Happenings


Happy New Year! I hope this email finds you all well as you enter the year.
This newsletter, once a monthly endeavor, has been reduced to an annual update. However there have been many exciting happenings that have caused my absence over the last year. I have begun the nesting phases of a proud new homeowner in our house built from scratch and have become a new aunt twice over as well as being honored with the role of Godmother. While the inclusion of these events in a photography newsletter may seem unusual these transitions have had a strong influence on my photographs which have always taken the personal and contemplative path. I am currently working on a new series devoted to the creation of home and the cultivation of a life imagined and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. The image in this email is a sneak preview into the new work.On the professional side, in Fall 2011 I made the decision to return to school to earn a second MFA in photography at the Art Institute of Boston, I am part of the inaugural class of Christopher James’ MFA program. My initial concerns were that returning to school would be a step backwards however at the close of my first semester I find myself feeling recharged and challenged and ready to commit myself for the next year and a half to an intense reflection on how and why I create. This means I will be taking a small step aside from my efforts over the last several years to expose my work to new audiences but I look forward to returning to these efforts in 2013.In the mean time I will continue to share my work as I can and I am continuing with my Alternative Processes workshops and photography instruction on a paired down schedule.Here are some of the events I was fortunate to be part of in 2011 and some upcoming workshops for the new year.Be well and have a fabulous 2012,

Jessica

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2011 in Review:
Selected Exhibitions and projects:

Beginnings: Stories and Starting Points, Black Cloud Gallery, Chicago, IL

Hand+Eye, Through This Lens Gallery, Durham, NC

One Hundred Days. Hinterland Art Space, Denver, CO

AIPAD Photography Show, John Cleary Gallery booth (#120), Park Avenue Armory, New York City, NY

Group Show of Work by New Artists, Galerie BMG, Woodstock, NY

Photo LA, John Cleary Gallery Booth, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA

Alternative Processes, Mills Pond House Gallery, St. James, NY

“Lo-fi”ography: A showcase of Vintage and Alternative Photographic Techniques, Gallery 360, Vancouver, WA

Selected publications and presentations:

Artist Presentation, f295 Symposium, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA (June 2011)

Diffusion Magazine, Issue 3, 2011 (to be printed in April)

Visual Overture, Featured Emerging Artists, Spring 2011

100 Days 2010, A book of selections from the collaborative process, Edited by Carianne Mack Garside

Workshops and Classes:

Ziatype Workshop, PhotoSynthesis LLC, Manchester, CT

Assistant to Jill Enfield, Matte Albumen Workshop, F295 Symposium, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh, PA

Alternative Photography, Fall semester, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT

Alternative Processes, Spring and Fall semester, Art Institute of Boston, Boston, MA

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Workshops/Classes for 2012:

This weekend I will be teaching a workshop on the Ziatype process at PhotoSynthesis in Manchester, CT. There are still a few spaces left and last minute registration is welcome, hope to see you there.

To view instructional videos of the ziatype process click here

This Spring I will be teaching Intro to Alternative Photographic Processes at Art Institute of Boston and at Central Connecticut State University.

This Spring/Summer I will be instructing these workshops at PhotoSynthesis in Manchester, CT:
Kallitype: TBA
Dry Plate Tintype: TBA
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Upcoming Exhibits:

Illusion and Chemistry: The Alternative Process January 10 -February 4, 2012, The Kiernan Gallery,Lexington,VA

Photography MFA Group Exhibtion, Porter Square Gallery, Boston, MA – Spring 2012


Jessica Somers ~ 2010 in Review, Winter 2011 Happenings

 

Time Will Lose Us, from the Becoming We series

 

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season and an enjoyable 2010. For the past several months I have been working on images for my series in progress, Becoming We. Many of the images express the life changing experiences I have had this year, among them getting married, building a home and my upcoming Auntie-hood. A selection of Becoming We images are now on my website.

In addition to these personal milestones of 2010 I have a lot to be thankful for in my photographic career as well. In this newsletter I have included the events I feel most fortunate and proud to have been involved in along with some upcoming exhibitions for the start of the new year.

Wishing you all happiness and peace in 2011,

Jessica

 

 

Upcoming Exhibits and Publications:

A selection of exhibits and venues my work can be seen in this Winter

Photo LA
John Cleary Gallery Booth, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA
January 13 – January 17, 2011,
Opening Reception – January 13, 6-9pm

website

Group Show of Work By New Artists
Galerie BMG
, Woodstock, NY
January 14 – February 14, 2011
website

Alternative Processes Show:
Mills Pond House Gallery
, St James, NY
January 8 – February 4, 2011, Opening Reception
– January 8, 2-4pm
website

Lofiography
Gallery 360
(formerly Sixth Street Gallery), Vancouver, WA

ongoing during February 2011, Opening Reception: Friday, February 4th, 5-9pm
website

My work will be included in the group showcase for Volume III of Diffusion Magazine, look for this issue in Spring 2011

Workshops/Classes:

This Spring I will be teaching Intro to Alternative Photographic Processes at Art Institute of Boston.

Returning this summer to Tunxis Community College in Farmington, CT is the very popular Alternative Photographic Processes class. It begins June 2nd and runs for 5 weeks..

A workshop on the Ziatype process at PhotoSynthesis in Manchester, CT is in the works. Stay tuned. Date: TBA

To view instructional videos of the ziatype process click here

2010 in Review: 

Selected Exhibitions and projects:

Alternatives: Unconventional & Uncommon Processes, MPLS Photo Center, Minneapolis, MN

Classical Methods, Contemporary Visions: Figurative Photography in the Alternative Process, The Coburn Art Gallery, Ashland, OH

Affordable Art Fair, New York, NY, John Cleary Gallery Booth

Found: Discoveries of FotoFest and PhotoNOLA, John Cleary Gallery, Houston, TX

100 Photographs, One Hundred Days Project, Collaborative online art project

AIPAD Photography Show, John Cleary Gallery Booth, Park Avenue Armory, New York City, NY

Going Forward Looking Back, Practicing Historic Photographic Processes in the 21st Century, seen in the following venues during 2010: UMASS/Dartmouth, New Bedford, MA, Trustman Art Gallery, Simmons College, Boston, MA, Shepherd Gallery, Maine Media Workshop, Rockport, ME

 

 

Selected publications and awards:

Finalist, Clarence John Lauglin Award, a New Orleans Photo Alliance Grant

Art New England, November / December 2010: Volume 31, Issue 6, Photographers Drawn to Historic Processes By Carl Little

Classical Methods, Contemporary Visions: Figurative Photography in the Alternative Process, Exhibition Catalog – Photograph used as cover image

Alternatives: Uncommon and Unconventional Processes, Book to accompany exhibition at MPLS Photo Center, Minneapolis, MN

 

John Cleary Gallery Blog, ,Niniane Kelley & Jessica Somers, June 10, 2010

 

Diffusion Magazine, Issue 2, 2010

The Hartford Courant, “Tunxis Instructor Receives National Teaching Award,” February 2010

Filmwasters.com, Guest Gallery #51, January 2010

 

Gallery Representation:

John Cleary Gallery

Galerie BMG

 

Workshops and Classes:

Modern Tintype Demonstration, Photosynthesis LLC, Manchester, CT

Two Day Dry Plate Tintype Workshop, PhotoSynthesis LLC, Manchester, CT

Ziatype Workshop, PhotoSynthesis LLC, Manchester, CT

Alternative Photography, Fall semester, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT

My work will be included in the group showcase for Volume III of Diffusion Magazine, look for this issue in Spring 2011

Jessica Somers ~ Early Autumn Happenings

 

Nesting, from the Becoming We Series

Happy final days of summer.  I hope all have had a relaxing and enjoyable season.  I took a short break from photography this summer to get married.  I am currently working on a project inspired by this new union titled Becoming We.  In the coming months I will take a brief hiatus from my newsletter to work on this series.  Soon my website will be updated with several new images.  I will continue to post updates on my Facebook page
and am always available via email.

Happy Autumn,
Jessica

Upcoming Exhibits:

A selection of exhibits and venues my work can be seen in this Fall

Fall Affordable Art Fair, New York City
John Cleary Gallery Booth
7 West 34th Street, New York, NY
September 30 – October 3, 2010
website

Classical Methods, Contemporary Visions:
Figurative Photography in the Alternative Process
The Coburn Art Gallery
331 College Avenue A/H Building
Ashland, Ohio 44805
October 7 – 31, 2010
Opening Reception – October 7, 4:30-6:30pm
website
Going Forward, Looking Back: Practicing Historic Photographic Processes in the 21st Century


The Maine Media Gallery, 18 Central Street, Rockport Village, ME – tel:207-236-8581
October 15 – November 19, 2010
Opening Reception: Friday, October 22, 5-8pm
website
 

My work will be included in the group showcase for Volume III of Diffusion Magazine, look for this issue in Spring 2011 

Workshops/Classes:

My Ziatype Workshop  returns to Photosynthesis next month…

On October 2nd & 3rd I will be giving a workshop on the ziatype process which will include information on how to print digital images to the process. The workshop is being held at Photosynthesis in Manchester, CT.  Space is limited so please register soon if you are
interested in learning more about this process.

Photosynthesis 136½ Pine Street, Manchester, CT 06040 • P: 860-783-5443
info@photosynthesisct.com

Register for the workshop and view videos on the process here