Radford University exhibits the first Southwest Virginia Juried Student Photography Competition

Photo student Emily Blunt shares her work with Andrew Ross, assistant professor of art and competition organizer.

The Radford University photography program is collaborating with other colleges in the region for the new Southwest Virginia Juried Student Photography Competition. The resulting exhibition is at the Radford University Art Museum Downtown Feb. 19-March 3.

This competition includes work by students from 11 colleges and universities in the area. Entry was open to current undergraduates who are taking photography courses as part of their studies.

The schools taking part include Blue Ridge Community College, Hamden-Sydney College, Hollins University, Longwood University, Mary Baldwin College, New River Community College, Radford University, Roanoke College, Virginia Tech, Virginia Western Community College and Washington and Lee University.

“There are many smaller photography programs in southwest Virginia, so I wanted to find a way to connect students and teachers to a broader photography community than they may find within their schools,” said Assistant Professor of Art Andrew Ross, who organized this effort.

Ross started planning the competition a year ago when he pitched an idea to the Department of Art. He also felt that the competition could serve as a recruitment tool for both the undergraduate and graduate photography programs at the university.

Once the Department of Art approved the idea, he reserved space in the museum schedule and then networked with the photography instructors at many nearby institutions. Ross followed up with flyers and entry forms.

He found a sponsor for this project in the Society for Photographic Education Southeast Region after making a pitch to the members’ meeting.

MFA sudent Kaitlynn Slaughter works on a digital print with Ross. Her work is included in "Then and Now" showcase.

Another import part of his organizational process was bringing in an outside juror with no local biases. Nationally exhibited photographic artist Diana Bloomfield is the inaugural juror. She is well versed in a variety of photographic processes and is featured in several books on 19th century printing techniques.

“I view photography as a visual language— a language where that singular image (or series of images) is all we have to tell our story,” Bloomfield said of her photographic philosophy, “No accompanying explanatory text exists, and we are not there to offer a backstory as to the why and how.

“Consequently, we need to be fluent in this visual language, and make our images so strong that they easily convey a feeling or emotion, a simple message, or a complete compelling narrative. I simply want to look at an image and be transported — if only for an instant— to another time or place, to a thought or memory, or to a new way of seeing and understanding.”

She is doing the jurying in two parts. The first is complete. It involved a blind process where she viewed digital images of all the entries without the photographer or their school identified. From these she selected pieces for inclusion in the exhibition. For the second part, she will select award winners based on the artworks once these are on display.

The competition includes works in digital, silver (darkroom-based) and alternative process (handmade emulsion) photography. Bloomfield will give out awards in each category.

Photographers who have work on display include Haley Alexander, Cat Baker, Emily Blunt, Nora Bolte, Kiah Brooks, Diana Dicarlo, Kaitlyn Fisher, Sam Forbes, Jacqueline Graham, Danielle Green, Gabrielle Heard, Ariel Hundley, Ellen Kanzinger, Jaina Lanum, Jillian Leigh, Maricela Marentes-Bermudez, Jerrika Moore, Brandon Lee Neice, Campbell Neighborgall, Yaritza Pacheco, Nicholas Palmer, Tanner Pelkey, Carson Reeher, Michael Sampson, Elias Sarver-Wolf, John Emerson Scheinuk, Katrina Spiezio, Allecia Taylor, Anshu Thapa, Min Thein, Kristen Weaver, Laura Wiseman, Cari Wolfe and Feiyi Xu.

Before attending the Feb. 19 reception to hand out awards, Bloomfield is leading a workshop on the alternative photographic process tricolor gum bichromate for Radford University photography students.

There is a portfolio-sharing event for the visiting student photographers following the reception, where they can show their work and receive feedback from faculty and peers.

Along with the undergraduate student exhibition, an adjacent show called “Now and Then” will feature photographic work by Radford University’s MFA alumni and current graduate students. Alumni are Jan Downs, Karie Edwards, Aaron Forrester, Bill Ratcliffe and Jerome Sturm. Current students include Langley Anderson, Leslie King, Lauri Reidmiller and Kaitlynn Slaughter.

The opening reception is at 5 p.m., Feb. 19 at the Radford University Art Museum Downtown, located at 1129 E. Main Street in Radford.

For more information about the Southwest Virginia Juried Student Photography Competition or the Radford University photography program, email aross13@radford.edu or call 540- 831-2570.

Feb 10, 2016