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professor soukhakian, senior bfa students attend spe national conference

Mar. 21, 2024

Associate Professor Fazilat Soukhakian, center, with USUPhoto BFA students (from left) Olivia Ethington, Sam Greene, Kennedy Fry, and Kenzli Todd. 

This week, Associate Professor Fazilat Soukhakian and five USUPhoto senior BFA students are participating in the SPE National Conference in St. Louis, March 21-23.  

The students—Lele Bonizzi, Olivia Ethington, Kennedy Fry, Sam Greene, and Kenzli Todd—received travel grant support from USU’s Office of Research and the Caine College of the Arts to attend the conference, where they will share their BFA thesis portfolios with leading photographers and photo educators from around the county, attend artist talks and panels, and view exhibitions.

Professor Soukhakian will also present at the conference, delivering a paper titled, "Fighting for Emancipation: Iranian Activist Photography and Art in Shaping the Revolution."

Soukhakian, who began her photographic career as a photojournalist in Iran, will discuss the "Woman, Life, Freedom" movement in Iran that followed the September 2022 killing of Mahsa Zhina Amini while Amini was held in Iranian police custody. The movement quickly evolved into a feminist revolution, led mostly by Iranian women, and aims to return women's rights and strive for gender equality. Through the veil of anonymity, Iranian artists and photographers have been able to not only express their emotions but also respond to the chaos and violence around them through creating artwork. At high risk of being arrested by the regime, they work from hidden, underground spaces and fuel the revolution with their art. Soukhakian's paper analyses how the anonymous art originating from inside Iran is now bringing focused attention to the human rights issues within the country, in contrast to what previously was labeled as “self-exoticizing” and “self-orientalizing” art. By freeing itself from the art market's demand and its interwoven complex political agendas, Iranian art today aims to bring social justice and change to its people.

SPE is the leading forum for fostering understanding of photography in all its forms and related media. SPE engages its worldwide membership and affiliated communities through a range of supportive platforms.

During the conference USUPhoto BFA students will be sharing their experience through a series of posts on the USUPhoto Instagram, @usuphoto.  

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