ARENA is an exhibition of photographs and books by the Hartford Photography MFA class of 2016, curated by Raymond Meeks. The participating artists are Sanne Vils Axelsen, Matt Eich, Jenia Fridlyand,Nathaniel Grann, Aaron Hardin, Cody Holcombe, Lori Lynn Lynn, Peter Morse, Nicole Rosenthal, Ricardo Tzichinovsky, and Joshua David Watson.
The University of Hartford MFA Photography is a unique program with a focus on the photography-based book. Faculty includes many recognized photobook authors, among them Alec Soth, Doug Dubois, Dru Donovan, Susan Lipper and Tod Papageorge.
The selection, juxtaposition and sequencing of pictures that comprise the exhibition were shaped by the same impulses that direct my personal bookmaking practice and those behind the construction of the most basic children’s board book: to look for order and imbue it with meaning. My aim was to establish a series of elliptical narratives and provide the viewer with a provocative array of possibilities and potential connections as they move through the exhibition and into the book viewing space. – Raymond Meeks
Raymond Meeks (Ohio, 1963) has been recognized for his books and pictures centered on family and place. In 2014, a mid-career retrospective organized by Light Work featured more than twenty books, including self-published works and numerous volumes from a variety of publishers. Meeks is a 2016 recipient of the Aaron Siskind Fellowship Grant.
Sanne Vils Axelsen (b. 1979) is a photographer based in Copenhagen. She holds an M.F.A. in Photography from the Hartford Art School, where she received the Mary Frey Award in Photography. She has a B.A. in Human Geography from the University of Copenhagen and a B.A. in Photojournalism from the Danish School of Journalism.
Matt Eich (b. 1986) is a portrait photographer and photographic essayist working on long-form projects about the American condition. He lives in Charlottesville, VA, with his wife and two daughters.
Jenia Fridlyand (b. Moscow, 1975) lives in New York and the Hudson Valley. She teaches middle school photography while continuing to work on her long-term projects, which employ the language of photography to create narrative fiction.
Nathaniel Grann is a photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA, who plays with the relationship between photography and the book form. His newest body of work focuses on his time returning home to the American Midwest and living with his parents for an extended period of time.
Aaron Hardin is an independent photographer based out of Jackson, TN. His work focuses on life in rural southern communities. Hardin is currently a professor at Union University.
Cody Holcombe is a landscape photographer based in San Diego, California. He holds a B.A. in Visual Arts from University of California San Diego and an M.F.A. from the Hartford Art School. Holcombe’s work explores the effects of rapid development and economic growth in the communities near his home.
Lori Lynn Lynn is a photographer living in Boston, MA. She earned a B.F.A. in Photography and Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and teaches photography in Brookline, MA. Lori makes portraits that explore ideas of self-expectation and convey her subjects’ hopefulness and vulnerability.
Peter Morse is a photographer and educator based in the Boston / North Shore area. He manages the Gallery at Barrington Center for the Arts and teaches small business courses and workshops for young artists.
Nicole Rosenthal was born and raised in New York City. After ten years working as an editorial photographer and ten more raising two children, she went back to school, earning a Merit award for her thesis project Somewhere To Get To.
Ricardo Tzichinovsky, born in Santiago de Chile, has exhibited his work in Santiago de Chile, Berlin, and Hartford, CT. He focuses on portraits, landscapes, and urban photography.
Joshua David Watson (b. 1988) is a photographer and educator currently based in Boulder, CO.
ARENA, a group show curated by Raymond Meeks, showcases the work of eleven students in the photography MFA program at Hartford Art School. Among the selections are a group of pictures from Jenia Fridlyand’s series “Entrance to Our Valley,” which captures moments in the life of an Eastern European Jewish family as they build a home on a Hudson Valley farm: a man reading in bed; a herd of sheep huddling around a tree; flies accumulating on a hanging trap; a woman on a porch holding a mirror between Fridlyand’s camera and her face. (The sequence was loosely inspired by Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.) Other featured work includes Ricardo Tzichinovsky’s photographs from a wealthy and highly fortified neighborhood in Santiago, Cody Holcombe’s landscapes pictures of roadside construction sites, and Sanne Vils Axelsen’s images of contemporary Denmark. The New York Review of Books.