During the summer of 2014 John Benasiak, Professor of Art at the University of South Dakota, and Ryan Stander, Assistant Professor of Art at Minot State University, began conversations to curate a photography print exchange and exhibit. Their goal was to highlight the many photographic artists working in the Dakotas and showcase their diverse styles and processes. Working together, the two curated this current collection by approaching 15 artists from their respective states with the hopes of representing a current view of photography within the Dakotas. This diverse collection surveys well-known artists from both states who work as photography educators, commercial photographers, as well as hobbyists in the field. As a result, the collection offers a striking range of styles, approaches, and subject matter.
For photographers of both states, the land seems to hold a prominent place within their work and imagination, albeit in distinctive directions. Paul Horsted engages in a practice called “re-photography” by attempting to re-create historical images often suggesting the human imposed changes upon the landscape. Robb Siverson and Sarah Christianson take to the skies to offer a birds-eye perspective on the land. Whereas Megan Duda’s long exposure from a car blurs the passing landscape into colorful abstractions. J. Earl Miller’s image of a discarded Maytag washing machine transgresses boundaries of landscape and contemporary still life. Miller’s and Anzley Harmon’s quiet mint green shelf and water glasses suggest that the ordinary materials of daily life hold remarkable photographic potential.
Contemporary photography boasts an incredible range of processes from the ever-evolving digital world to those who work with antique cameras and the hand applied chemical processes of the mid-1800’s, and the many that live in between. This collection mirrors these international trends in contemporary photography. The antiquarian interest looms in Shane Balkowitsch’s digital image of his wet-plate collodion photograph (technically called an Ambrotype) as well as John Benasiak’s Kallitype image, whose processes were invented in 1850 and 1889 respectively. Others like Suzanne Gonsalez-Smith’s and Su Legatt’s work often carry visual ties to printmaking, but are digital collages constructed in Photoshop of taken and found photographs and other scanned images. While many of the artists have made the digital migration, several of the artists continue work in film photography. Max Patzner and Michael Conlan both use expired film and unique processing approaches to achieve a desired, yet unpredictable, look to their images.
The ND/SD Photography Survey is the first print exchange hosted by MSU’s Flat Tail Press. As with most print exchanges, each artist represented produced enough prints for all the other artists and a large-scale trade ensues where each artist receives one print from every other artist. Additionally, one set has been given to Minot State University and the University of South Dakota for their permanent art collection and for touring exhibits.
The Jamestown Art Center Jamestown, ND 11.12 - 12.12.15
University of Mary Bismarck, ND 1.15 - 2.15.16
Ellendale Opera House Gallery Ellendale, ND 3.1 – 3.30.16
James Memorial Art Center Williston, ND 4.15 – 5.15.15
Northwest Art Center (Minot State University) Minot, ND 6.1 – 7.1.16
Memorial Union Gallery (North Dakota State University) Fargo, ND 8.15 – 9.15.16
Dickinson State University Gallery Dickinson, ND 10.1 – 10.31.16
Northern Lights Gallery (Mayville State Gallery) Mayville, ND 11.15 – 12.15.16
Mount Marty University Yankton, SD 8/1 - 9/30/16
The Cultural Heritage Museum Pierre, SD 12/12 - 2/28/16
The University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls, SD 3/6 - 3/30/17
The Over Museum, University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD Summer 2017
The Dahl Art Center Rapid City, SD 1/26 - 3/31/18