recent highlights:

senior bfa photo students open back-to-back exhibitions at usu projects gallery

Feb 21, 2023

Exhibitions of photographic works by Utah State University BFA seniors Victoria Johnson and Bailey Rigby will be featured at USU’s Projects Gallery Feb. 20-24 and Feb. 27-March 3.

Victoria Johnson, from the series “The body is only a vessel”

The first exhibition, “Victoria Johnson: the body is only a vessel,” features photographs documenting funeral homes as liminal spaces that reflect both the mundanity of death and the implied tension between the present and the afterlife.

Victoria Johnson is a Brazilian multidisciplinary artist whose photographs investigate suburban spaces, memory, and how people interact with their surrounding landscapes. Inspired by the unique relationship between the funeral professionals, grieving customers, and the commercial spaces used for rites of sepulture, Johnson has photographed sites of grieving including chapels, viewing rooms, and cemeteries across Cache and Box Elder counties.

Bailey Rigby, from the series “The Study of Last Things”

Following Johnson’s exhibition, “Bailey Rigby: The Study of Last Things” will feature photographs exploring indoctrination and identity and the particular pressures of family tradition and LDS church doctrine.

“While the LDS Church is now one of the largest organized religions in the United States, many members are stepping away due to conflicting political and moral beliefs, as well as doctrinal and experiential dilemmas,” Rigby says. “Through ‘The Study of Last Things’ I voice my own personal experiences of isolation and self-discovery in my apostasy.”

Rigby is a fine art photographer originally from Oklahoma. Her work embraces storytelling through an autobiographical approach that is grounded in archival, iconographic, and experiential research.

“At USU Photo, we are guided in our belief in photography’s critical role in contemporary culture, and Victoria and Bailey’s work reflects that ideal through their thoughtful visual research and meaningful storytelling,” says Jared Ragland, Assistant Professor and Photography Area Coordinator. “Whether documenting how and where we process grief or illustrating the matters of family and faith, each of their projects succeed in doing what great art should do by translating the universal to the personal and providing a platform for viewers to consider–and perhaps even challenge–social customs and beliefs.”

Johnson and Rigby will share their work via a “takeover” of the USU Photo Instagram account (@USUPhoto) during their exhibitions.

The USU Projects Gallery serves as an adaptive platform for USU students, faculty, and community to engage teaching, research, and visual art practices. The gallery is located on the ground floor of the USU Fine Arts Building and is open from 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

For questions contact Projects Gallery coordinator Antra Sinha at

prof. ragland researcher of the year award + recent news 

Feb 15, 2023

Jared Ragland, from the series, Hellbender

Assistant Professor Jared Ragland has been selected as the 2022 USU Caine College of the Arts Faculty Researcher of the Year.  Nominations for the award are made by faculty from departments of Art + Design, Music, and Theatre Arts.

Also this week, The Conversation, a US/UK/Canadian outlet that publishes articles written by academic experts for the general public, has shared a story based on Prof. Ragland’s longterm photo-ethnographic research.  “When he’s not on drugs, he’s a good person’ – one community’s story of meth use and domestic violence” can be read here.

The Conversation takes its finding from a recent article, “Sex, drugs, and coercive control: Gendered narratives of methamphetamine use, relationships, and violence,” co-authored by Ragland with collaborators Heith Copes, Fiona Brookman, and Blake Beaton and published by the journal, Criminology. The Criminology article marks the first time the journal has published a photo essay in its history, signaling a significant development for narrative-driven, qualitative, and visual methods in the discipline.  The most recent journal rankings from the Institute for Scientific Information identifies Criminology as the leading professional journal in the field of Criminology (first out of 27), 6th of 96 in the field of Sociology, and 29th of 101 in the field of Law.  

Additionally, the journal Conflict and Society has announced “Changing Narratives of Intimate Partner Violence: A Longitudinal Photo-Ethnography,” co-authored by Ragland with Heith Copes and Lindsay Leban, as the journal’s most-viewed article of 2022. Conflict and Society is a journal covering the technologies, fields, and categories related to Cultural Studies, Anthropology, Political Science and International Relations, and Sociology and Political Science. It is published by Berghahn Journals. Changing Narratives... was published as part of a special section theme, “The Longitudinal Ethnography of Violence.” In the article Ragland et al explore how women’s narratives of abuse change, including narratives of self as well as narratives of their abusers.

To learn more about Ragland’s collaborative photo-ethnographic work, visit his website

adjunct prof. katie mcgown opens shrinking lessons at usu projects gallery 

Feb 14, 2023

Katie McGowan, Look Away

An exhibition of cyanotype works by Utah State University adjunct photography professor Katie McGowan will be featured at USU’s Projects Gallery, Feb. 13-17.

Katie McGowan: shrinking lessons will feature works utilizing domestic textiles and the historic cyanotype process to explore themes related to femininity, gender roles, and politics of McGowan’s native American South.

McGowan, originally from Texas, is an interdisciplinary artist based in Salt Lake City. She received her BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2020, graduating as a University Honors Scholar. She holds an MFA in photography from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. McGowan currently teaches introductory photography courses in the USU Department of Art + Design.

Concurrent to her exhibition, cyanotype works created by McGowan’s Photo I students will be on view in the USU Art + Design display cases located on the ground floor of USU’s Fine Arts Visual Building. McGowan will also share images via a “takeover” of the USU Photo Instagram account (@USUPhoto) during the exhibition.

Discovered by astronomer/scientist Sir John Herschel in 1842, the cyanotype process is one of the oldest photographic printing processes. Its distinctively rich cyan blue color is created by a photochemical reaction of UV light on iron salt compounds, resulting in a “blueprint” originally intended to reproduce notes and drawings.  The process was notably used by botanist/photographer Anna Atkins in 1843 to create one of the first photographic books, the three-volume “Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions.” Today, the cyanotype process remains an important and expressive medium employed by a wide range of contemporary artists.

“Katie’s cyanotype works are subtle and complex, merging a fundamental photographic process with contemporary concerns and conceptual rigor––precisely the kind of work ideal for our students to see and learn from,” says Jared Ragland, Assistant Professor and Photography Area Coordinator.  “We are delighted to have Katie teach in the USU Photo program and for the many ways her thoughtful art practice serves as an influence and inspiration to our students.”

For more information about Katie’s work, visit  

The USU Projects Gallery serves as an adaptive platform for USU students, faculty, and community to engage teaching, research, and visual art practices. The gallery is located on the ground floor of the USU Fine Arts Building and open from 9am-5pm Monday-Friday.

For questions contact Projects Gallery coordinator Antra Sinha at

sara j. winston communitas lecture 

Jan 18, 2023

Artist Sara J. Winston will be an artist-in-residence at Utah State University, Jan. 18-20. She will give the semester’s first Communitas lecture at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 at Utah State University’s Daines Concert Hall.

Presented by the Caine College of the Arts’ Department of Art + Design, Communitas invokes the fundamental spirit of community, coordinating a year-long lecture series with a wide range of artists, designers, and scholars whose work and lives promote the values of equality, diversity, and togetherness. Communitas lectures are free, open to the public, and offered to students for credit. The Communitas theme for the 2022-23 academic year is “Margins.”

For her lecture, Winston will discuss how she uses photographs and bookmaking to address chronic illness and its ongoing impact on her body, mind, family, and memory.

“Sara’s work thoughtfully integrates conversations on illness, domesticity, motherhood, and the impactful role of the camera in our lives,” said Assistant Professor of Photography Jared Ragland. “I share Sara’s work with my students every semester and find they respond in profound ways. I am delighted the USU community has a similar opportunity to experience Sara’s critical yet vulnerable studio practice.”

Sara J. Winston is an artist based in the Hudson Valley region of New York where she is the Photography Program Coordinator at Bard College, serves on the faculty of the Penumbra Foundation Long Term Photobook Program, and is a contributor to one of the preeminent online photography platforms, Lenscratch. Sara’s work has been included in more than half a dozen photographic anthologies, and she has published five monographs of her work including “A Lick and a Promise,” published by Candor Arts in 2017, and ”Homesick,” published by Zatara Press in 2015––both part of the USU Photobook Special Collection.

In addition to her Communitas lecture, Sara will work with advanced-level USU Bachelor of Fine Art students in a zine-making workshop. The workshop will explore how artists can use creative strategic frameworks as means of ideation, conceptual development, and visual phrasing.

For more information about Sara’s work, visit

The Caine College of the Arts Visiting Artists and Scholars Series is underwritten by the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation-Russell Family, The Tanner Charitable Trust, and other generous donors. Differential Tuition is provided by the students of the college.

prof. soukhakian interviewed for ksl 

Nov 27, 2022

Following Professor Fazilat Soukhakian’s recent selection to the 2022 Photolucida Critical Mass TOP 50, Salt Lake City’s KSL News interviewed Soukhakian to discuss her award-winning project, Queer in Utah. Watch the interview here.  

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