Ugliness | Winter 2019
“Calling something ugly is like calling something beautiful. The minute you say it, you’re in a difficult spot, trying to define what that really means.” - Michael Frank
Ugliness is subjective, often directly linked to our perception and acceptance of beauty. In photography, is ugliness defined by the content of the image, or the context? Can it be the same as a boring photograph? In Open Call: Ugliness, we want to highlight your impressionistic take on ugliness, whether it be the purpose of your image or an unfortunate byproduct.
Statement: The still life series was photographed in a studio, captured on film, and printed in a color darkroom. Owing to their careful arrangements, the images take a stab at the unnerving sides of consumerism. The work picks and pulls at the embodied anxieties from insatiable capitalism, chewing over desire, bodies, and fetish objects.
Bio: Ashley Miller was born in Aleppo, Syria and raised on the island of Guam. She currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she is completing an MFA at the University of New Mexico. Miller previously earned a BA from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Her photography has been shown most recently at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon and at the Organ Vida International Photography Festival in Zagreb, Croatia.
Statement: The work fits the theme: Ugliness, for it's quickly distinguishable contents. They are portrayed in calculated moments that expose their aesthetic beauty, while their connotations and histories are ones of stoicism & aggression.
Bio: Weston Clark is primarily a photographic artist currently based in Chicago, IL. He recently received his BFA in Photo & Film from VCUarts in Richmond, VA (2018). This work, part of a larger body of his thesis, was a an interrogation on power, identity, and location.
Statement: This work is part of an ongoing series I began as a means to process my childhood and the connections between ourselves and the natural and cultural landscapes surrounding us. How we hold ourselves — and how we move through the world. In some ways it is about the ugliness of suburban landscapes. In other ways it is about ugliness as a metaphor. Sometimes it’s just about its proximity to beauty.
Bio: June T. Sanders is a trans-feminine photographer and writer from the shrub steppes of Eastern Washington State. She lives there still. She is an MFA candidate at Washington State University and holds a BA in Media Disparity from Fairhaven College. Her work is about gender; dirt; expansions; home.
James Robert Southard
Statement: In the summer of 2016, I worked in northeastern Wyoming where I had the opportunity to get to know the people, history and businesses of region. Arriving without a preconceived outcome, I planned to get to know the artists, ranchers, shepherds and the local population in the hopes of building a body of work that reflected current concerns paired with its history. It wasn’t too long before I was learning about the big changes in the state’s economy while big coal was shutting down. This loss in coal money was aiding in the reemergence of the tourism. I also found the history of western textiles, materials and even stereotypes to be great symbols of the region’s identity. From branding designs to vintage western tchotchke fabrics and farming equipment, everything fits into a larger history of the area.
I built these images along with a video exhibiting the results of the Wyoming history and future with materials that some would find as discardable objects. Whether it be waste leather or unrefined wool, I wanted to build defensive garb in the hopes of protecting Wyomingites from future problems thanks to their past relics.
Bio: After receiving his MFA from Carnegie Mellon in 2011, James Robert Southard has worked in the art world through invitations to international exhibitions such as the Moscow Biennale for Young Art, Hel’Pitts’Sinki’Burgh in Finland, Camaguey Cuba’s 5th International Video Art Fest and participation in the Internet Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in Venice Italy. In 2012, James started a collaborative photography and video series with the collaboration of the city of Seoul, Korea at Seoul Art Space Geumcheon. Soon after he took his project to Maine where he was a participant at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, then later to MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Yaddo Retreat in New York, Jentel in Wyoming, MASS MoCA and currently to the dairy farmers of northern Vermont. His digital construction process allows for public interactions and collaborations to combine together in the aesthetics of each composition. While continuing this process in new communities, He has also returned to academia by teaching photography at the University of Kentucky.