SOULS・LI ZHIFU by Dongli Huang (MFA Photography, 2014)
Part of “Intervals” exhibition

Join MFA Photography students and Parsons Photography faculty at Photoville, happening September 19th through September 29th at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Come mix and mingle with us at the opening night party on Thursday, 9/19 at 7pm in the beer garden.

The MFA Photography exhibition, “Intervals” will feature the work of current students in one 40-foot shipping container near the entrance.

The above photo was done by MFA Photography student Dongli Huang. She says of her SOULS series:

The title of this portrait project refers, of course, to the intrinsic nature of the human spirit. These photographs are ambrotypes, but more importantly for me, they are portraits of contemporary Chinese youth, whose inner peace I hope I was able to express. In an era of rapid change and movement, I find it is only when we are in a calm and peaceful state that we can see the true nature of others, include ourselves. In order for me to capture the true essence of the people I was photographing, I felt it was necessary to slow down the actual shooting process. This was accomplished by using an 8×10 large format camera, in which positive images where exposed directly onto black glass negatives. In doing so, I felt I could remove any sense of urgency in their appearance in order to show outwardly the nature of my subjects’ hearts and minds. Additionally, I found the process put me in a much calmer state during the actual act of photographing.

© Rachel Herman

Photo by Rachel Herman, 2011 for the “Photo Requests From Solitary” project


Willie requested a picture of a vigil at Bald Knob Cross on top of a hill in southern Illinois to pray for his deliverance from Tamms and to be granted parole from prison. In order to take this photograph, TY10 caravanned down to the cross, held a litany of song and prayer and celebrated with a dinner. The next day, we drove family members to visit loved-ones at the prison. Willie was transferred from Tamms, and on July 27, 2012, he was paroled after 36 years in prison. We had a Welcome Home party for him the week of his return. Photo by Rachel Herman, May 6, 2011.

Parsons Photography faculty member Jeanine Oleson co-curates an exhibition called, “Photo Requests From Solitary,” a unique collaboration between artists and people held in maximum security prisons. She’ll also be on the related panel, on Sunday 9/22 from 4:40pm-6:10pm.

This project, initiated in 2009 by Tamms Year Ten (TY10), a grassroots coalition of artists, advocates, family members and men formerly incarcerated in Tamms Correctional Center in southern Illinois, tackles the question: “What would a person in complete isolation want to see?”


Photo by Laurie Jo Reynolds, 2011 for the “Photo Requests From Solitary” project


Several men asked for photos of themselves, taken from their online Department of Corrections photos, to give to their families. Robert wanted his picture matched with an alternate background. He wrote, “If you can place my picture on another background, nothing too much please. Something simple like a blue sky with clouds or a sunset in the distance would be fine.” Robert also said, “I want to extend my love to you, for you, as you have already done for me. Because genuine, authentic true love is when you do for others just because you can, and you hold no preconceived notion that you will be getting anything in return.” Photo by Laurie Jo Reynolds, 2011.

Men in solitary confinement at Tamms supermax prison in Illinois were asked to request a photograph of anything in the world, real or imagined. The responses included the place where the Robert Taylor Homes used to be, a gray and white warmblood horse rearing in cold air and a lovesick clown with an old-fashioned feather pen.

In 2013, in collaboration with Parsons The New School for Design, Solitary Watch, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the project expanded to California and New York, and students, artists and volunteers are currently working to fulfill requests from these states, as well as using the project to support local campaigns to stop the use of solitary confinement.

The “Photo Requests from Solitary” exhibit and panel at Photoville are supported by the Open Society Documentary Photography Project, and is curated by Laurie Jo Reynold of Tamms Year Ten, Jeanine Oleson of Parsons The New School for Design, and Jean Casella of Solitary Watch, and features some of the fulfilled photographic requests, along with the unfilled requests from the next phase of the project. More information can be found here. 


Last but not least, Parsons Photography faculty member Michelle Bogre will be giving a copyright and business of photography lecture on Thursday, 9/26, from 5:00-5:45pm

Luminance: The Future of Copyright, presented by PhotoShelter, features Michelle Bogre; Allen Murabayashi, PhotoShelter; and Julie Grahame,
If you’re like many (many!) photographers out there, then United States copyright law is probably pretty daunting. But here’s the thing – understanding the ins and outs of copyright is an asset to your business. This panel helps lift the veil on this cumbersome topic, and discusses how to balance protecting and sharing your images. You’ll learn how photographers today are making copyright part of their everyday workflow. (hint: it doesn’t mean hiding your images in a black box never to be seen by the world).While these seminars do not require advanced signup, seating is first come first serve so we highly recommend that you reserve your spot in advance! Register here: https://luminance-futureofcopyright.eventbrite.comThis presentation will take place in the Photoville Talk Area – located at the storefront of One Brooklyn Bridge Park at 360 Furman St Brooklyn, NY 11201. More information here.
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