Sunday, April 20, 2008

125+ Attend Opening of 938 Days Later: New Orleans Now!

All I can say is, "wow". Last night's opening was spectacular. All of the students who participated in the Travel and Study Program had work in the show--some exhibiting their work publicly for the first time in their young careers. Jorie Tappa, after some technical difficulties, premiered three short films from the trip, and faculty exhibited their work in a separate studio space upstairs in the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art.

We'd like to thank the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art, and especially Steve Ozone who generously opened their doors to us.

Remember the exhibition is for one week only.
So don't miss out. Traffic Zone is open Monday-Friday 9am - 5pm.

Friday, April 18, 2008

938 Days Later: New Orleans Now opens tomorrow at Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art in Minneapolis!

Please join us in celebrating the opening of the student exhibition resulting from the study and travel program in New Orleans over Spring Break. The work is terrific, and as an extra bonus, on the evening of the opening, program participant Jorie Tappa will premier her films from the project.

Parking is available on the street, in the Traffic Zone parking lot, and in the Minneapolis Municipal Ramp "C" (located just North of the Center).

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Day out Making Pictures

What has surprised me most here was the scale of the disaster, and the people of New Orleans. From the citywide tour on Monday, to day after day during the week, seeing the houses, businesses, infrastructure... so much destroyed.

The people; kindness, openness, resilience. 938 days later so much
has been built, but so much has yet to be done.

The people that I have met have affected me most. They have been through so much, and are
so positive and full of hope. We met a woman yesterday, that was 89
years old, and evacuated through her kitchen window (during the flood after Katrina) onto a boat. She
lost everything the following couple years, she lost her
brother, and son to various illnesses. She invited us all in (a eight
people) her new house, even though she hadn't showered or changed out
of robe yet. She offered coffee, or to fix us something. when we
left she told us to be safe and to travel in two's or three's, and
said God Bless.

Yesterday was of the best afternoons all around. I wanted to go to the west end. 3 students came along, Beth, Anthony and Liz. We checked out were the levee broke, the pumping station, and than came across a house that looks untouched since the hurricane, (even though it was near a busy intersection). Children's toys scattered about, a family album, piano, silt all around, rooms with tumbled mixed up furniture. We met a family from a neighboring suburb, that came by to appreciate that even though they'd lost half their house, they were fortunate.

I'm quite impressed with the work of all the students, one is cut out for this type of shooting, another has been passionate in experimenting in pushing for the best light, and taking advantage of shooting opportunities, another has been great at approaching strangers, and one has been looking at breaking all illusions of how we make these images, by photographing the photography.

Rich Ryan

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Photography at Torpedo Level (with apologies to both David Foster Wallace and Karl Rashke)

Well, I’m back in Minnesota, and you are all still down there, making better and better pictures. I took some time today to think about what I’ve seen, heard, and learned from you over the last few days—here’s what I came up with:

I have seen waterlines.

I have seen sleep deprived students make wonderful photographs, then voluntarily get up at 5:30am to do it all over again.

I have seen a lot of FEMA X’s.

I have seen the fear of the new or different melt away in students into courageous acts of friendliness to strangers, and receipt the friendliness back in kind.

I have seen a student decide that certain pictures should not be made.

I have seen, defiant of contemporary convention, a student shoot only film.

I have seen a ghost’s hand in the vacant ruin of a prep school and believed.

I have seen the sunrise with my back to it because, in truth, for a photographer, it’s better that way.

I now know what DAM means, but pretty much everyone knows that I am hard pressed to remember all three words on the fly.

I have, on more than one occasion seen the number “1” in the bottom part of the X.

I have seen a student who dislikes seafood eat a raw oyster, and deny the urge to spit it out.

I am now convinced that it is unlikely that many of my students and one of my faculty will ever make it past the first day on “Survivor”.

I have seen students realize that certain pictures cannot be made.

I have heard the exclamation, “you would be surprised at how many times Bob Dylan refers to levees in his songs. And you know what? One song is called ‘The Levee’”, then silence for a few fleeting minutes for the first time in two days.

I now know that “Torpedo Level” isn’t code for a certain combination of equipment, but is in fact, a level that does not look like a torpedo.

I have seen Crypts and shadows.

I have seen Rich Ryan make four separate photographs lying on the ground, but none standing up.

I have seen students not photograph something they should have.

I have witnessed a student not eat a crawfish when they should have.

I was, for a very short time, in a Wal-mart.

My faculty and I now intimately understand the term, “soccer mom”.

I have seen behind the scenes.

I have seen 12 different versions of the same picture and liked them all, in some way.

I suspect Brett Kallusky travels with bricks and sandbags in his backpack.

I have listened, really listened, to the sound of the Hasselblad shutter, but I do not yet know why.

I met someone who has touched Napoleon’s underpants.

I have seen an aid worker wielding a scythe like a golf club in full swing, to cut away dry brush in the abandons of Tennessee Street.

I know that the stairs are level, because a torpedo level cannot lie the way a photograph can.

I have seen a rainbow of flannel pajama bottoms in the lobby of the hotel at midnight, stocking feet, a sea of laptops, Pocket Wizards, high heels, radio slaves, umbrellas, iPods, tripods and faculty teaching faculty—sometimes, all at once.

I have realized that the idea of ‘truth’ in photography is a tricky thing. If we can bring back pictures of waterlogged houses, flood and evaporation lines in tact, what will our audience really see? The light is dewy and orange—it must be morning. The grass and trees are very green, the Sweet Peas are so fragrant you can smell them in the lushness of the scene depicted—it must be Spring. But what year is it? In a culture of a 24-hour news cycle feeding us the disaster of the minute, what do we really know?

I have realized that for every 125 photographs I make hand-holding my camera, I only capture one mundane second.

I have seen waterlines.

Epistemology \i-ˌpis-tə-ˈmä-lə-jē\

Function: noun
Etymology: Greek epist_m_ knowledge, from epistanai to understand, know, from epi- + histanai to cause to stand

Our students had a remarkable and rare gift yesterday of a visit from the Director of Curatorial Services for the Louisiana State Museum, Steve Maklansky. Steve brought with him a group of photographs he called “then and then”. He showed media photographs of the immediate aftermath of Katrina, with his own photographs made a few months after the storm and flood, retracing the steps of these photographers. Speaking about photography as not only an expressive tool, but a language in and of itself, he wove every student’s work into a quilt of food for thought. At this 1/3 point in the trip, when students have seen so much destruction, balanced with signs of hope and recovery, the thoughtful insights of a New Orleanian who has probably seen every Katrina picture ever made cross his desk, generated much conversation over dinner. It was the where do we go from here moment for me, and certainly for several students as they think hard about where to direct the gaze of their lenses for the rest of the trip. Thank you, Steve.

Dinner: To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before or Waiter, I Think There's an Oyster in My Shell!

Last night was my last night with the group before heading out on the flight I now refer to as "Delta's revenge for the students' inbound flight", at 6:20am. I wanted to go to this great boiled seafood place called Big Al's Seafood. We invited all of the students, some really wanted to go; some wanted to go to be nice because it was my last night (thanks Amanda); and then there were those who came only after I called and ascertained that there was something other than seafood to eat on the menu. I'll leave it to the students in their blogs to visually describe Victor, and his amazing talent with the oyster shucking knife, and say that many proud moments have been had in just a few days--and I'll get to that in my next post--but I never dreamed I'd see people who made faces when they heard the oysters were them...

Instructor Bret Kallusky demonstrating his oyster eating technique.

Amanda Hoak finds her inner strength.

Ogden Museum Preparator, Richard McCabe demonstrates the 'on a cracker' method.


Beth Maas volunteers to try the oyster on a cracker.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Editorial Students Working at Dusk in the Quarter

Above, Brittany Tupa document classmates Beth Maas and Peter Tran setting up a photograph...and below, the resulting image by Beth Maas.

Behind the Scenes Tour of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Curator, David Houston and Preparator, Richard McCabe toured our group though the Ogden Museum this afternoon. The museum had an extraordinary exhibition of the work of Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor on display, a great three room permanent collection exhibition, and a room full of Robert Polidori's work from After the Flood. When we reached this room, they pulled work that Richard had culled from the permanent collection for just us to see. Here we were enjoying a preview of the Elliot Erwit exhibition currently being prepared for exhibition. He also treated us to a wonderful portfolio of William Eggleston prints, and some other rarities from the collection.