Art and Art History hosts Midwest photo conference

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Art and Art History hosts Midwest photo conference

Hundreds of photographers will converge in Lincoln when UNL’s Department of Art and Art History hosts the Midwest Society for Photographic Education 2013 Conference Oct. 24-27.

Dana Fritz, a professor of art who teaches photography at UNL, is co-chairing the conference with Larry Gawel, area head of photography at Metro Community College in Omaha.

“We are doing some things similar to the national conference,” Fritz said. “We’re offering workshops, portfolio reviews and some national speakers, but we’re also trying to emphasize what we have here in Lincoln, such as the amazing collection at Sheldon Museum of Art.”

Two events — a keynote address by Christian Patterson on Oct. 24 and a portfolio review on Oct. 26 — are free and open to the public.

Patterson, a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow, will discuss his “Redheaded Peckerwood” project in the 7 p.m. Oct. 24 keynote address at Embassy Suites, 1040 P St. For the project, Patterson spent time in Nebraska conducting research and taking photos during artist residencies at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Art Farm and Lincoln Arts Council.

“Redheaded Peckerwood” is a work with a tragic underlying narrative of the story of 19-year-old Charles Starkweather and 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate, who murdered 10 people, including Fugate’s family, during a three-day killing spree across Nebraska. Patterson’s book was awarded the 2012 Arles Rencontres Author Book Award.

“Patterson spent a lot of time in Nebraska and put together this extraordinary book that is a blend of fact and fiction,” Fritz said. “There are archival photographs and facsimiles of artifacts in the book blended with photographs he’s made that may be from actual locations or may not be. We don’t know. It’s a new way of working that’s very fluid between fact and fiction.”

The other free event is the Portfolio Walkthrough. 8 to 10 p.m. Oct. 26 at Embassy Suites. The event will feature photographers of all levels showing their work.

“We all open our portfolios on the table and visitors and conference participants walk around and look,” Fritz said. “You get to see all kinds of work. If it’s not interesting, you keep walking. If it’s interesting, you stop.”

Other conference speakers include:

• John Pfahl, a photographer based in Buffalo, N.Y., who has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. An exhibition “John Pfahl: Points of View” will be on display at Sheldon.

• Jeff Curto, professor and coordinator of the photography program at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill., who is the honored educator. Curto also teaches workshops in Italy and has a series of podcasts on photography.

• April Watson and Keith F. Davis, who are curators at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Davis’ book, “An American Century of Photography: From Dry Plate to Digital” will be given to registrants of the conference.

• UNL professor of practice Marissa Vigneault will present “Between Subject and Object: Photographs of Artists by Artists.” Vigneault received a Notable Proposal Award from the conference for this presentation.

Fritz said her photography students at UNL are required to attend the conference and will certainly benefit from attending.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity that will only happen one time in their student career to see this many lectures and hear from so many different people. It gives them exposure to so many photographers and so many points of view. It’s just a broad spectrum of the state of photography, and they get it all in two and a half days. It’s super concentrated, and it’s just amazing.”

Fritz is also eager to show off the Department of Art and Art History, UNL and Lincoln to conference participants.

“I’m thrilled to bring people here to see not only our facilities in photography, but we’re having some exhibitions in the Eisentrager-Howard Gallery and MEDICI Gallery,” she said. “And, of course, I want everyone to see the Sheldon, which is a real gem. This is a really exciting time to be in Lincoln.”

For a full schedule of events and registration information on the conference, go to

The conference is supported, in part, with a grant from the Hixson-Lied Endowment.

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