2016 Selection Committee Statements

Three members of the photographic and arts communities comprise the Review Santa Fe Selection Committee. Their responses to their experience selecting the work for this year’s Review Santa Fe conference are below.

The very idea of judging photography is fraught with complication; it seems to acknowledge that some images and ideas are superior. Artists willingly put a lot at stake when deciding to embark on a life journey where your ideas are on constant trial. As an artist I know this concept all too well. As a Selection Committee member of this year’s Review I felt it like never before.

My aim in selecting the strongest bodies of work was simple: push the medium and ideas that were consistent, meaningful, and clear. I am exposed to a lot of photography in my life as an artist and educator, yet I was deeply moved by the consistency in which the work was approached and strength of the conceptual backbones of the projects submitted. We live in a world of bipartisan bickering and war torn regions, so it was with much exhilaration that I found portfolios full of sensitivity and intimacy, full of concern and compassion. Honestly, it was a relief. The act of meticulously going through these portfolios, staring at the images, and reading the heartfelt texts has restored my confidence in the human race. I know this sounds dramatic, in fact, it is. It is also true. Many of the portfolios were filled with images and words that expressed deep personal emotion, sacrifice, and bravery. There were photographs that spoke to the complicated balance of science and faith, concepts of profound concern for the earth, its inhabitants and the medium of photography itself. Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart, and head.” In my opinion this year’s submission of portfolios confirms his stance and solidifies my agreement with it.

The ubiquity of photography in our everyday lives and cultures, in our museums and smart phones, instills in me a sense of pride, yet it also begs me to be hypercritical. Critical about which images matter most, which ideas are worth propelling and fighting for. I chose the projects that I felt deserved a fighting chance. To those that were not chosen I implore you, do not give up the fight. We need more voices, more statements, and more artists to stand up for their personal visions and share their ideas.

Thank you to Center for trusting in my vision and allowing me to make a mark in the future of our medium. Thank you to all of the artists who submitted a part of their hearts and minds; we are truly brothers and sisters in arms in the battle to understand the complicated world we inhabit.

Jesse Burke
Photographer & Professor
Rhode Island School of Design

It’s great to have the opportunity to take a look at the submissions for prestigious reviews, and I am so happy to have been asked by Center to do just that. Looking through the entries was like opening an unexpected gift—you don’t know what you’ll get, and that’s what makes it so exciting!

As with any situation, the cream rises to the top, and I’ve seen some deeply felt, artistic work. In seemingly simple concepts, many photographers have found a way to peel back the known to surprise us with the unknown. These are beautifully composed and photographed images, and I have been moved and delighted by the range of work I have seen; from fine art to documentary to landscape to conceptual photography.

I looked to choose work from those photographers who would most benefit from hearing feedback from professionals who could give useful perspective and direction. For those not chosen, remember, this is just one step on the journey toward the success you are looking for as a photographer. And know that it is sometimes in deep introspection and letting your creative muse go free that you can really offer the world something that surprises and touches all. I encourage everyone to continue shooting, continue questioning your work and the world at large.

Thank you for giving me the responsibility of looking at all this work. I take this honor very seriously, and look forward to seeing more of this wonderful photography in the future.

Stella Kramer
Creative Consultant
Educator and Writer

As a curator I consider myself to be a story teller and an editor, stitching together a compelling narrative out of other people’s objects. In reviewing these portfolios, I saw a number of similar stories told in different ways. Themes involving glorified detritus, gender identities and the rural sublime, to name a few, continued to surface. Such recurrences offered comparisons that made me question why some iterations were more compelling than others. As a professor, I have often been asked, ‘What makes a work of art good?’ Students are so eager for a firm list of four to five prescriptions they can put on their studio wall and follow into stardom. I always offer the same reply: a work of art should offer something new upon multiple encounters. It should be a bit coy and require some patience and for one to be quiet and careful to understand all that it has to give. As a fulltime advocate for artists, I am also a translator explaining the purpose and transformative potential of art to those making it, as well as, those who rarely consider it.

I am most enamored of work that holds some surprises in form or content. The photo process offers even more when manipulated. Deconstructing the medium is of great interest to me. With photography there can be so many engaging combinations of light, physics and chemistry. Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the largest camera obscura in Latin America while in Havana. It captured the entire city in its lens revealing the enormous power that device wields over vision and nature. The desire to capture and preserve a world in motion, to freeze moments will always appeal to us. At a time when so many people have access to the point and shoot technology of our phones, photography is at a crossroads not so dissimilar from its struggle to be a fine art over 150 years ago. Many of the artists in this cohort have embraced this challenge.

Kymberly Pinder, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Fine Arts
Interim Director, University of New Mexico Art Museum

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