The Genetic Portrait Project: Herron Professor documents people’s perceptions of genetic research through photographs

Stefan Petranek

Stefan Petranek

Stefan Petranek, assistant professor of photography and intermedia at IUPUI’s Herron School of Art and Design, has taken an unusual approach to collecting people’s thoughts on science. With a marker and poster board in hand, Petranek asks individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds to consider “how the future will be affected by genetic research.” He then photographs his volunteers holding their message. In the last four years, Petranek has photographed over 400 individuals creating a noteworthy catalogue of responses that reflect the diversity of ethical concerns and technological promise this expansive field of science offers society.

As researchers’ ability to manipulate DNA for a wide array of biological issues, from human health to agricultural production advance, the influence of DNA-based technologies on our daily lives has grown exponentially. Yet there is little research which tracks Americans’ perceptions of these technologies. The Genetic Portrait Project grew out of Petranek’s ongoing artwork about the pyscho-social implications of a genetically advanced world and his interest in how others were grappling with the same issues. The project represents the first-ever visual documentary of individuals’ perceptions on science.

Petranek has photographed several high profile individuals for the project including Dr. Eric Green, Director of the National Human Genomic Research Institute at NIH, and internationally known artist, Mark Dion. He has also photographed individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including soliciting people off the streets from cities like Indianapolis, Boston, and Portland, OR to participate. Recently, Petranek has focused on creating interactive initiatives at genetic and bioethics conferences. In 2014, he photographed attendees at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) Annual Meeting, the world’s largest genetics conference. His photographs have been exhibited nationally and were recently published in Frontline Genomic Magazine’s March issue. To see more portraits you can visit Petranek’s website and the Project’s Facebook page.

In the near future, Petranek plans to create a website that will allow people to participate autonomously, creating an international repository of photographic portraits dedicated to documenting thoughts on genetics at this moment in history.

Herron’s summer exhibitions range from photography to painting to sculpture and video

Herron School of Art and Design’s 2015 summer exhibitions will feature works by five herron_posterartists in a range of media from photography to painting to sculpture and video.

A reception in Eskenazi Hall on July 10 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. will open the galleries, which are free and open to the public. The exhibitions continue through Jul 31.

Michelle Given lives and works in Indianapolis and has taught at Murray State University as well as Indiana University. Her work in this show includes interior spaces, landscapes and cityscapes, and video.

Stacey M. Holloway, Herron alumna (B.F.A. 2006) and former faculty member,is an assistant professor of sculpture at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Her cache of poignant yet whimsical dioramas sold out at a recent gallery show in New York, so she has promised to make new works for this exhibition.

Valerie Eickmeier, dean of Herron, will exhibit selected works created during her recent sabbatical that meld real experiences and observations with imagined and reinterpreted images.

These paintings are based on changing sequences in nature as well as contemplation of the underlying forces that create change. In the Marsh Gallery, recent works by Marianne Glick will be on display. The civic leader and philanthropist began painting in 2004 as she searched for a creative outlet to replace gardening during the winter. She describes herself as an abstract expressionist who works mostly in watercolor and acrylic. The Basile Gallery will feature works by R. Stephen Lehman. A prosthodontist by
profession, Lehman began his love of photography in college shooting campus parties. He likens his seriousness about the medium to that of legendary cellist Pablo Casals,
who was once asked why, at 93, he continued to practice three hours a day. Casals replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”

Parking Information
Park courtesy of The Great Frame Up Indianapolis in the visitor section of the Sports Complex Garage (west of Herron’s Eskenazi Hall), or park on the upper floors of the
Riverwalk Garage (south of the Sports Complex Garage) until 6:00 p.m. Park on any floor after 6:00 p.m. Bring your parking ticket to the Herron Galleries for validation.

Wein Artist Prize of $50,000 goes to Herron alumnus Samuel Levi Jones

Samuel Levi Jones  image by Tressa Pack

Samuel Levi Jones
image by Tressa Pack

“Sam Jones (B.F.A. ’09 in Photography) is an artist with a dream,” said Professor Linda Adele Goodine, who teaches photography and intermedia at Herron. “He has followed his vision to graduate school and now, the larger art stage. It’s an infinite plan to create and bring wonder and curiosity to the public by making art that begs us to look at who we are and where we come from.”

Goodine’s assessment was not lost on those who bestow the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, which for nine years has been awarded to an African-American artist “who demonstrates great innovation, promise and creativity.” George Wein created the $50,000 prize in memory of his wife. It is given each year by the Studio Museum in Harlem. The prize was announced on October 27.

“I remember Sam Jones vividly,” said Professor Jean Robertson. “He was a student in several of my art history classes, and a complete pleasure in every way. He was always engaged in class and eager to learn and discuss. He was particularly interested in documentary photography that shone a light on the situation of impoverished and disadvantaged people. Sam has a strong sense of social justice, and wanted to use his art to make a difference in the world. Clearly he was a young man who was going to be a success, given his dedication and commitment.”

As for Jones, he said he was at home in the San Francisco Bay area when he got the fateful phone call. “I was really surprised. I never imagined getting this award.” His website describes his art making as “…an attempt to address identity within the modern world upon the existence of exclusion.” He describes his first class in photography as a life changing experience even though his work has evolved into additional mediums.

Work by Jones will be featured in Black White Thread, a solo exhibition opening on November 8 at Papillon in Los Angeles.

Open Society Foundations Invites Applications for Social Justice Photography Projects

logoThe Open Society Documentary Photography Project is accepting applications for photography projects that can be used as tools for social change.

The foundation’s Audience Engagement program supports projects that address a pressing social justice or human rights problems and provide concrete ways for photographers, organizations, and their target audiences to create positive social impact. Projects that inspire audiences visually, create meaningful interactions with an existing body of photographic work, and use photography as the basis for programming that moves people beyond the act of looking and directly involves them in activities or processes that lead to social change are encouraged.

Beginning this year, the program offers two tracks of support for individuals at different phases of their audience engagement projects:

  • Project Development: Grantees will receive funding to attend an Open Society–organized retreat in December 2014. The event will be designed in collaboration with Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program, whose nationally recognized workshops provide participants with essential practical tools and strategies to help them move their project and career goals forward. Attendees will become part of a larger Audience Engagement grant cohort, with opportunities to connect both during the conference and after.
  • Project Implementation: Grantees will receive grants of up to $30,000 to execute (or continue executing) their projects as well as attend the December retreat.

Proposed projects should include partnerships between photographers and organizations recognized as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Each project partner should have the skills and track record to realize the project and must commit time and resources to implement it.

See the Open Society Foundations Web site for eligibility and application guidelines.

IUPUI liberal arts student curates photography exhibit that bridges physical, virtual spaces

389465_w296A new photography exhibit curated by Aaron Pierce, a graduate student in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, brings together photographers from around the world in both a physical gallery space and a virtual space via Instagram and blogs.

Social Photography: Art in Progress” runs through June 27 at Indy Indie Artist Colony & Gallery, 26 E. 14th St. During the exhibit, photographers will share an Instagram account. The pictures they post will be projected onto the gallery’s walls, thus creating a worldwide, ever-changing art exhibit.

The exhibit seeks to create a dialog about the nature of photography in frequently changing social media environments.

Pierce, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the School of Liberal Arts, is finishing a master’s degree in geographic information science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He describes the exhibit as a social experiment that is interactive and engages with the audience.

“We will be hosting a ‘Topic of the Day’ blog at our website where we will bring up topics that fit within the gallery themes, but each photographer’s photographic post will work as an individual pillar of conversation to build off of and connect with other topics, themes and ideas,” he said. “This will be a very fluid and active discussion; it could easily take us for completely unexpected spins.

“We are engrossed into virtual lives now, and this physical gallery serves as the place where we will get experimental with our space,” Pierce said. “We will be hosting artist talks through Google Hangouts from this location as well as interacting with both virtual and physical works hosted in the gallery.”

Pierce, a Carmel resident, said his interest in photography reaches back to childhood. He has also been able to incorporate photography into his academic work during study-abroad trips to Cuba and Morocco.

Pierce has also used social media platforms to showcase his photography, and he organized an IUPUI campus event where students could talk with Lauren Bohn, a journalist based in Cairo during the Arab Spring, via Skype. Bohn is among the photographers participating in the exhibit.

Other artists participating in the exhibit, some with ties to Herron School of Art and Design, include Milli Apelgren, Nabil Attia, Denise Conrady, Kevin Scott Davis, Juan Jerez, Amina Khazie, Sam Ladwig, Zun Lee, and Scott Witt.

“I saw this gallery exhibit as a way to not just show my work, but as an opportunity to use the space for a bigger role in exploring and discussing social media with photography through a collective of artists and an audience that is encouraged to engage with the exhibit,” Pierce said.

Social Photography: Art in Progress” can also be viewed on Instagram at @socphotogallery and followed via the #socphotogallery hashtag. Photo prints are available for purchase.

Call for entries: Manifest Creative Research Gallery & Drawing Center

Manifest (Cincinnati, OH) is launching a new ongoing series of exhibits focusing on works by artists in its own three-state region. This is intended to complement the ordinarily very wide geographical makeup of most Manifest exhibits with a closer look at what’s being done here, now, in our own backyard.

This exhibit has no predefined expectation for type or style of work to be considered or selected. Submissions can range from the most traditional to the most conceptual or experimental. The only criteria for entry is that works must qualify as works of photography and be made by artists living in Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana. Works may include other processes or media, but photography must clearly be the primary media.

Manifest was founded, and continues to be operated by regional artists, so it is only fitting that, with more space in which to program, the organization offers the Regional Showcase series. We feel this is important for the artists and the public living within reasonable driving distance of the gallery. It will give each a chance to show and share, and to gain perspective on our region’s creative wealth as it relates to the broader art world.

For complete guidelines and to submit to this exhibition opportunity, vsit the Manifest website.

Artist and activist iO Tillett Wright to keynote Harvey Milk Dinner at IUPUI

The artist whose photographs have kick-started conversations on issues of sexuality and gender across the U.S. will deliver the keynote address at this year’s Harvey Milk Dinner at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Activist iO Tillett Wright is the featured speaker for the fourth annual Harvey Milk Dinner at IUPUI. The event takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in Room 450 of the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.

Traveling across the country, Wright is photographing anyone “who is anything other than 100 percent straight” for inclusion in a photographic project titled ”Self-Evident Truths.” Using photos, Wright hopes to introduce people who are against the idea of gay marriage to a vast number of people who are LBGTQ in order to promote the rights of the latter.

“This is my contribution to the civil rights fight of my generation. I challenge you to look in the faces of these people and tell them that they deserve anything less than any other human being,” Wright says in a video based on her first 300 photographs.

The Harvey Milk Dinner celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at IUPUI. It is named in honor of Harvey Milk, who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1977 to 1978 as the nation’s first openly gay elected official.

The dinner is one of a dozen events being sponsored by IUPUI in observance of October as Pride Month. Other activities include a panel discussion at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, in the Campus Center featuring clergy sharing how their various faith traditions fully welcome LGBT families. A complete list of activities is available online.

The 2013 Harvey Milk Dinner is supported by the IUPUI Advocates for Sexual Equality, the IUPUI LGBT Faculty Staff Council, the IUPUI Office of Alumni Relations and the IU Alumni Association.

Online registration for the dinner is open through Friday, Oct. 4. Tickets are $20 for IUPUI students and $45 for all others, including community guests.