Photographer Presentations

Photographer Presentations

Images from the series Resident Aliens © Guanyu Xu, 2021 Project Development Grant

WHEN: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 from 1:30-4:00 pm MT
WHERE: Hosted online through Zoom – recorded sessions can be found below or on our vimeo account
HOW: Free & Open to the Public

CENTER highlights excellence and innovative contributions to the field each year with the annual Awards and Project Grants. The selected photographers receive financial support and professional development opportunities. Each artist will share an intimate view of their project, followed by a moderated discussion with moderator Holly Stuart Hughes, Independent Editor, Writer, and Grant Consultant. View the Award and Grant winning projects online here.

Holly Stuart Hughes – Independent Editor, Writer and Grant Consultant; Former Editor-in-Chief, PDN

Holly Stuart Hughes is an independent editor, writer and grant consultant. The former editor-in-chief of PDN (Photo District News), she has organized panels and lectured on artist’s rights and the business of photography around the U.S., and served as a portfolio reviewer at several photo festivals. A graduate of Yale, she has written on photography and media for, The Telegraph, Multichannel News, Taschen Books, American Photographic Artists, Magnum Photos, Carlton Publishing, and Blouin ArtInfo Media.

PART 1: The Interior & the Intimate | 1:30-2:30pm MT

Four visual artists exploring interior spaces and the representation of inner lives will share samples of their award and grant-winning projects honored in this year’s CENTER Awards and Grants. Joining the photographers’ conversation about self-representation and empowerment among other themes, juror Merry Scully, New Mexico Museum of Art Curator, will share reflections on judging this year’s Personal Award submissions.

Participants: Lizzy Cross, CENTER Personal Award; Arista Slater-Sandoval, Project Launch Grant Honorable Mention; Guanyu Xu, Project Development Grant; Ana Cristina Vallejo, Excellence in Multimedia Award; Peter Brown, Callanan Excellence in Teaching Award; Merry Scully, Head of Curatorial Affairs, Curator of Contemporary Art, New Mexico Museum of Art.

Lizzy CrossWindow Peeps – The CENTER Awards: Personal –
Juror Merry Scully – Head of Curatorial Affairs, Curator of Contemporary Art, NMMA

“Emerging from devastating chronic illness, lockdown felt normal, except this time the illness was not mine. I was alive and thriving, healed miraculously. The euphoria of recovery made even a desolate world sparkle. I took it all in. Phone slipped through roll down gates, lens pressed to darkened windows, long exposures revealed vignettes of lives suddenly upended. The prison of isolation that is chronic illness echoed in my reality. But my presence, newly freed from pain and able to point the lens was proof that it could and would be overcome.”

Arista Slater-SandovalBlighted Expectations & Still Hearts – Project Launch Grant Honorable Mention –
Juror Marisa Sage – Director & Head Curator, New Mexcio State Universtiy Art Museum

“When referring to the female body a blighted ovum speaks to a type of miscarriage most often occurring within the first trimester. In clinical terms, an anembryonic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop to produce a viable life. A pregnancy sac forms and grows but not the embryo itself, no fetal pole (heartbeat) is produced. Now blighted, the womb is a barren land not fit to sustain life, a stark comparison first coined by male doctors in the mid-1800s.”

Guanyu XuResident Aliens – Project Development Grant –
Juror Arpad Kovacs – Assistant Curator, Department of Photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum

“Influenced by the production of ideology in American visual culture and a conservative familial upbringing in China, my practice extends from examining the production of power in photography to the question of personal freedom and its relationship to political regimes. I negotiate this from my perspective as a Chinese gay man. In my work, I migrate between mediums like photography, new media, and installation. These movements operate similarly to my displaced and fractured identity.”

Ana Cristina VallejoNeuromantic – Excellence in Multimedia Storytelling Award –
Juror Cosima Ameland – Senior Producer, Mobile Storytelling, National Geographic

“My name is Ana and I am a love addict. All my life, I have been consumed by anxiety and trapped in a loop of rejecting the partners who want me and obsessing over the ones who don’t.

In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic severely hit NY and I was suddenly trapped in my apartment with myself. This ignited a process of looking inward and creating a visual language to cope with my anxiety and pain.”

Peter BrownInstructor, Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, Rice University – Houston, TX – Callanan Excellence in Teaching Award –

From the student nominations: “He is, at his core, compassionate, a communicator, and intellectual, but very down-to-earth and approachable.” | “His excitement about photography as he speaks is contagious and has led most of his students to public books of their work, participate in group and solo exhibitions around the world, and have their work acquired by museums.” | “I have worked in higher education at top universities for over four decades and in all those years of overseeing teaching, I have never seen anything that compares with the diverse and tightly knit community that Peter Brown has created at Rice University in Houston.”

Merry ScullyCENTER Personal Award Juror – Head of Curatorial Affairs, Curator of Contemporary Art, New Mexico Museum of Art

Juror Statement: “Many of the responses were introspective, a means of coping and communication. The resulting photographs allowed a momentary peek into someone else’s experience at a time when so many of us have been languishing, isolated in our own homes. I saw work by photographers working in the style of traditional black and white street photography as well as complex amalgamations of chemical and digital processes… Most impressive were the groups of images which made clear the overarching message the photographer is transmitting to the viewer.”

PART 2: Visions of Place | 3:00-4:00pm MT

Photographers honored in this year’s CENTER awards will discuss their inventive use of landscapes and rarely seen places in projects exploring ecology, personal and collective history, and artistic self-expression. The photographers will discuss their varied techniques and their goals for their award-winning projects, with juror Marisa Sage from the New Mexico State University Art Museum reflecting on judging this year’s grant submissions.

Participants: Ella Morton, CENTER Environmental Award; Jane Whitmore, Project Launch Grant; Leah Dyjak, me&EVE Grant; Peter Merts, CENTER Social Award; Meridel Rubenstein, Project Launch Grant Honorable Mention; Marisa Sage, Director, New Mexico State University Art Museum.

Ella MortonThe Dissolving Landscape – The CENTER Awards: Environmental –
Juror Melissa Dale – Interim Director of Photography, The Nature Conservancy

“The Dissolving Landscape is a series of experimental analogue photographs that examine climate change in the landscapes of Canada and Nordic Europe. The project asks the question: what are we losing, in terms of our spiritual connection to the land, as the climate rapidly changes? The images are treated with mordançage, a darkroom technique that degrades silver gelatin prints, creating veils from the emulsion. The mordançage process aims to convey the transcendent and fragile qualities of the land. The ways the images warp highlight the spiritual power of the natural environment and also lament its destruction as the planet warms.”

Jane WhitmoreThe Bikini Project – Project Launch Grant –
Juror Marisa Sage – Director & Head Curator, New Mexico State University Art Museum

“In July 1946, the United States tested two nuclear bombs at Bikini, a small island in the Marshall Islands. My father, Will Whitmore, was a civilian participant in this project, Operation Crossroads. The devastation of the small island, the displacement of 167 Bikini Islanders, and the demise of their culture have haunted me for years.

Although The Bikini Project began as a personal endeavor and a case study involving Operation Crossroads, the project informs contemporary global issues such as the displacement of indigenous people and the banning of nuclear weapons.”

Leah DyjakAs we play god – me&EVE Grant –
Juror Annick Shen – Head of Editorial, Adobe Stock

“The way landscape photography aestheticized historically often excludes conflict, contested histories, and social-ecological concerns. In my photographic work, I try to expose photography’s broader potential, as it can create links between the viewer and urgent social issues that connect to the collective body and the experience of climate change. As we play god is a visual investigation into infrastructure failure and environmental collapse in the fastest-disappearing land on earth: Southeastern Louisiana. In this photographic and field research project, I look at the poetry of material systems’ failures by finding the human errors that collide with weather events to produce economically and spiritually costly catastrophes such as levee breaches and flooding.”

Peter MertsThe Passion of Incarcerated Artists – The CENTER Awards: Social –
Juror Marisa Sage – CENTER panelists, Mary Anne Redding, and former Project Grant recipients

“This project shows California prison inmates discovering, developing, and occasionally mastering artistic expression as they participate in state-sponsored art classes. Studies have demonstrated the many benefits of prison arts programming, but public support for such efforts remains tepid at best. This situation has led me to understand perhaps my greatest aspiration for this work: to illuminate the humanity and authenticity of these incarcerated men and women, who are working so passionately to express themselves, to recover from their traumas, and to lead more fulfilling lives.”

Meridel RubensteinEden in Iraq – Project Launch Grant Honorable Mention –
Juror Marisa Sage – Director & Head Curator, New Mexico State University Art Museum

Eden in Iraq (2011-) includes photo works of the legendary Mesopotamian marshes in southern Iraq, where after near destruction, the ancient Ma’dan people are regreening their land and rebuilding their culture. These images are being created in tandem with a water remediation project in these wetlands, that I initiated and direct, also called Eden in Iraq. Environmental engineering, artful design, and wastewater are creating a garden for health, cultural heritage, and environmental education. The design for the wastewater garden, inspired by Mesopotamian Embroidered Wedding Blankets, has influenced the digital assembling of the imagery and materials used in my photo works, including linen, metal, and woven tapestry.”

Marisa SageProject Launch Grant Juror – Director, University Art Museum at New Mexico State University

Juror Statement: “The strongest projects focused on photographically documenting climate and environmental changes that have a wide cultural impact both regionally and globally, causing sustainability issues that impact various communities. The projects chosen as finalists took their specific cultural needs and sensitivities into account when exploring and researching imperative concepts such as environmental racism, draught remediation, and miscarriage. All three grant finalists had elements of documentary, landscape, and portraiture photography integrated visually through thoughtful layout, image construction, and narrative.”


CENTER would like to thank those who make the Review Santa Fe programs possible: The Gumbo Foundation, the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the City of Santa Fe Arts & Culture Department, New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Mexico Humanities Council and photo-eye.