AS220’s Photo Mem program really strives to get its students exposed to the arts and to provide them with multiple paths of inspiration. Just this fall the students have been able to attend lectures at RISD from well-known photographers like Sally Mann, as well as meeting with prominent local artists like Traer Scott. Our latest field trip was to the RISD museum’s photo exhibit titled: America in View: Landscape Photography 1865 to Now. This is actually the second time Photo Mem has been to the RISD Photo Collection, the first time it was self guided and this time it was lead by local Ph.d Candidate Mazie Harris. It immediately became apparent how much of a difference it makes to have a connoisseur in the matter as their guide for the day.
Here’s the reaction of one student that went to the field trip:
“In September, I visited the RISD museum with my Photo Mem class to check out their new photo exhibition titled: America in View. When your knowledge of the history and significance of these photos is very minimal, you find yourself not getting the whole picture. The first time around I thought the collection was nice, but nothing too thrilling. On our second visit though, the moment Mazie started talking I knew my views on the exhibit were bound to change. It was interesting to see how the same pictures i had seen a few weeks ago suddenly appeared so different. Among many things Mazie taught us the history of landscape photography. We learned that in the beginning the U.S. government hired photographers like Timothy O’Sullivan to photograph landscapes as a form of propaganda to invite new European Americans to come build things in America, but later on photographers like Ansel Adams used landscape photography to show the need for preserving these wonderful views.
This trip has taught me that not only is it important for a photo to be good in technical terms, but that it is also important to know the history and the intention with which photos are taken.
Knowing that I must also incorporate substance into my own practices has inspired me to learn more about the history of photography and get more acquainted with the work of well-known photographers. After my second look at these photos I became inspired to develop my own work in the same fashion of the artists we learned about.”
Article By: Manuela Hincapie