recent highlights:

  • jim mangan visits usuphoto
  • lele bonizzi wins usu robins award talent of the year
  • senior bfa students open capstone exhibition, ‘unleaded’
  • prof. ragland exhibits in houston, chicago, tampa
  • usuphoto at spe
  • prof. soukhakian solo exhibition at blue sky

photographer jim mangan visits usuphoto

Apr. 14, 2024

Jim Mangan, from The Crick.

USUPhoto will host photographer/filmmaker Jim Mangan for a conversation April 15. Mangan will discuss his recent book, The Crick, which tenderly and poetically documents a group of young men living on the fringes of the FLDS community along the Utah-Arizona border. The conversation is scheduled for 12:30-1:30 in Professor Jared Ragland’s Advanced Photography Studio class, FAV 113.  The visit is supported though a Bear Lake Needs Assessment Grant. All are welcome to attend, however space is limited.

About The Crick:
Mangan began The Crick as a photographic survey of the unorthodox architecture of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) houses in the Utah-Arizona border town of Short Creek. He soon found that the bigger story lay in a group of teenage boys navigating their disintegrating community, fractured after leader Warren Jeffs was imprisoned in 2011. These subjects were children at the time of the fallout, who remained with their families in Short Creek as others elected to leave the town altogether.

The Crick is a meditation on religious succession, patriarchal systems, zealotry and fraternity in the life built by these young men. Mangan’s pictures transport the reader into an alternate reality of the boys’ making: where they explore the rugged terrain of southern Utah, northern Arizona and southern Nevada on horseback, emulating old-time explorers of the Western frontier. His “ecological and sociological approach” to this series, spanning five years, depicts the playfulness of youth against the capricious landscape of the American West. In both their real and imaginary worlds, these subjects have gained a knowledge of and closeness to nature that has largely been lost in the conventions of modern life.

The Crick is part of the USU Photobook Special Collection and published by Twin Palms, who has graciously supported the collection and is represented by nearly two dozen titles. 

bfa senior lele bonizzi wins talent of the year at 2024 robins awards

Apr. 5, 2024

Left: BFA seniors Kennedy Fry, left, and Lele Bonizzi, right, at the 2024 USU Robins Awards where Fry was nominated for Scholar of the Year and Bonizzi received the Talent of the Year award. Right: Lele Bonizzi receives the Talent of the Year award, as announced by Caine College of the Arts Dean Nicholas Morrison.

Congratulations to USUPhoto BFA senior Lele Bonizzi, who has been named 2024 Talent of the Year at the USU Robins Awards. The Talent of the Year award is presented to the individual who demonstrates an outstanding mental endowment or superior capacity in the field of music, art, or theater. The Robins Awards are the most coveted of all Utah State honors, and the awards night is the year’s most prestigious event.

Eleonora Lele Bonizzi (they/them) is an Italian fine art and documentary photographer. Lele holds a cinematography certificate from UCLA and is a BFA candidate in the Department of Art + Design at Utah State University. Their photographic practice is centered on the artistic exploration of critical social issues, with particular emphasis on LGBTQ+ rights and immigration.

In 2023 Lele received a USU Caine College of the Arts Summer Arts Research Grant for their photographic project, "Ananda Marga through the Lens of Malta,” which directly supported the work of three Maltese non-profit organizations. Lele currently serves as a USU Department of Art + Design Undergraduate Teaching Fellow, and they are a member of the Bear Lake Needs Assessment project team to document issues surrounding the sovereign lands of Bear Lake, Utah. As a 2024 USU Peak Fellow, Lele will document the work of the Brazilian non-profit organization, Maes Unidas, which provides support for young single mothers living in extreme poverty.

Lele has exhibited their work nationally and internationally. They are a recipient of a Ralph T. Clark Photography Scholarship and Estel & Leah Mouritsen Scholarship and winner of the 2024 USU Department of Art + Design Talent of the Year.

Congratulations also go to USUPhoto BFA senior Kennedy Fry, who was nominated for Scholar of the Year at the Robins Awards.   

We are so proud of all our students’ accomplishments this year, and you can see the results of their hard work in the 2024 BFA exhibition, Unleaded, open through Apr. 12 at USU’s Tippets and Eccles Galleries.

six bfa seniors open capstone exhibition, unleaded, apr. 1-12

Apr. 1, 2024

BFA thesis projects by six USUPhoto seniors is on view  as part of USU’s annual BFA capstone exhibition at the Tippets and Eccles Galleries.

The exhibition, Unleaded, runs April 1-12, 2024, features works by BFA photography candidates Lele Bonizzi, CJ Cheney, Olivia Ethington, Kennedy Fry, Sam Greene, and Kenzli Todd alongside works by 18 senior BFA students from printmaking, painting, sculpture, and ceramics. 

The Tippetts & Eccles Galleries is located in the Fine Arts Center and is open Monday–Friday from 9–5pm. A virtual walk-through of the exhibition is available here. The USUPhoto Instagram feed will feature each student’s work during the exhibition run. 

At USU Photo, we are guided in our belief in photography’s critical role in contemporary culture. Through the making, learning, and sharing of images, we encourage students to utilize photography as a tool for compassionate citizenship, meaningful storytelling, and impactful social change. The photography students in this year’s graduating BFA class have embodied that mission with aplomb, and over the last year-and-a-half have dedicated themselves to building sustained bodies of work that balance personal insights with critical engagement in a wide variety of social and cultural concerns.

The BFA projects explore the heart-rending complexities of family and community—from leaving one home and cleaving to another; of confronting the tragedies of dementia and memory loss; of finding connection through maternal bonds, both biological and adoptive; and building community and identity while challenging binary cultural systems. Other projects vulnerably engage with the seen and unseen ramifications of trauma—from experiences with depression and attempted suicide to childhood sexual assault. In each, these artists have chosen the poetic over the didactic, collectively resisting the sensational for subtle and nuanced visual metaphor and symbolism. And in each they welcome us to join them in thoughtfulness, beauty, and empathy.

We couldn’t be more proud of the thoughtful, vulnerable, and well crafted work this BFA cohort has created.

An ancillary show featuring a selection of “b-sides” from each thesis project is on view in the USU Projects Gallery April 1-5.

professor ragland exhibits work in houston, tampa, chicago

Mar. 30, 2024

Installation views of Mapping Perspectives at Throughline, Houston—one of three exhibitions featuring Professor Ragland’s work this spring. 

Works by Assistant Professor Jared Ragland are on view in concurrent exhibitions this spring in Houston, Chicago, and Tampa.  

The first, Mapping Perspectives, is on view through March 30 at Throughline in Houston. The exhibition is held in conjunction with the biennial photography festival FotoFest Houston and juried by Samantha Johnston, Executive Director & Curator of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC). The theme of this year’s FotoFest is “Critical Geography,” which seeks to re-examine traditional Western and historical understandings of geography while expanding these investigations to new realms. Mapping Perspectives explores power structures, inequalities, and dominant ideologies within and across marked boundaries, and features an image from Ragland’s ongoing project, What Has Been Will Be Again

Another image from What Has Been Will Be Again is featured in Context 2024 at Filter Photo in Chicago. Context 2024 is Filter’s tenth annual survey exhibition of contemporary photography, and this is the second year in a row Ragland has been selected for the show. Context 2024 features works by 23 artists and was juried by Sarah Kennel, the Aaron Siskind Curator of Photography and Director of the Raysor Center at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The show is open through April 27. 

Meanwhile, two images from Ragland’s lyrical documentary project, Snowbird, is included in Just as Your Ship's Drifting in They're Pushing Out the Tide at TEMPUS VOLTA in Tampa, on view through May 2. Juried by Jenal Dolson, Just as Your Ship's Drifting in They're Pushing Out the Tide showcases works from eight artists of a variety of backgrounds and mediums that explore themes of uncertainty, resilience, and change. Tempus Projects is one of the premiere non-profit, artist-run galleries in the American South.  

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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