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Craig Varjabedian
Craig Varjabedian
Craig Varjabedian

Craig Varjabedian

Country: United States
Birth: 1957

"Craig Varjabedian's photographs of the American West would be the perfect illustrations to a Cormac McCarthy book. They have a surreal beauty and poetic emptiness that border on the fictional. It's as if this isn't the real West, but the West of tall tales and American dreams."
Claire O'neill, "The Picture Show," National Public Radio

Craig Varjabedian is an award-winning photographer, author, and teacher. His stunning photographs of the people and places of the American West are critically acclaimed, not only for their powerful imagery and artistic composition, but also for their ability to transcend the commonplace-immanently engaging the viewer with scenes that passionately reflect the artist's connection to his subjects. Varjabedian achieves this goal through a skillful visionary acuity and intuition, allowing him to make photographs that expand awareness. As a result, viewers are presented with new ways of seeing and experiencing this region so integral to our collective imagination and our unique American identity.

Varjabedian's gift lies in his ability to blend both technical expertise and illustrative narrative-depicting lyrical images that reveal the humanity and character of a vast sometimes barren country known for its legendary beauty and dramatic heritage. Varjabedian's photographs tell contemporary stories that continue to inspire today what has historically been recognized as the "spirit of the Great American West."

Craig graduated from the University of Michigan witha Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and received his Master's degree from the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology. As a fine art photographer for over forty years, Varjabedian has been widely praised for his masterful images ranging from awe-inspiring, expansive landscapes, to intimate soul-revealing portraits. He is also the director of Eloquent Light Photography Workshops in Santa Fe.

In further recognition of his work, Varjabedian has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and the New Mexico Humanities Council. His photographs have been exhibited in, and his prints collected by, museums around the country, including the William Benton Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Albuquerque Museum of Art.

In 1991, Craig received an Emmy Award for his collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Karl Kernberger on the PBS documentary En Divina Luz: The Penitente Moradas of New Mexico. Photographs from this project were published in a 1994 book by the same name. Craig's other books include By the Grace of Light: Images of Faith from Catholic New Mexico (1998), Four & Twenty Photographs: Stories from Behind the Lens (2007); Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby (2009), which received the prestigious Wrangler Award for Outstanding Photography Book from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum; and Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait (2012), released to coincide with the New Mexico State Centennial.

Varjabedian's latest book, Into the Great White Sands, a photographic celebration of White Sands National Monument, was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2018. The book received a prestigious New Mexico/Arizona Book Award.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Rosita Delfino
I started getting interested in photography in 2009 and since then I have been emotionally struck by the picture's power of communication. Photography is a dimension where pictures enhance the words and become means of expression of our inner world, through the filter of our eyes they have the power of changing the reality. It is a never ending dialogue between appearing and being, a wonderful journey in the female dimension, where the body is no more bound to space and time but opens to a dreamlike atmosphere. I often think of a sentence by Francesca Woodman, 'you'll get excited when looking at an image but you'll never know what's behind it'.Rosita DelfinoAll about Rosita Delfino:AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?In 2009 I realized that the camera has a big power for communicating the feelings of my soul. So I decided to start taking pictures. When I take picture I feel free.AAP: What or who inspires you?I bought a lot of photographic books and I was amazed by Francesca Woodman, Christy Lee Rogers, Alexei Vassiliev's pictures and so on. They express the concepts of their soul through a non-objective representation of the reality, where the time is hanging and feelings, fears, desires are mixed. I find myself through the style of these photographers.AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?I usually work with a photographic project. Using digital editing I feel in front of a painting and I create the pictures depending on my state of soul and it takes a lot of time.AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?I imagine myself in this Francesca Woodman's sentence: "Ti ecciterai osservando un'immagine ma non saprai mai cosa vi è dietro". ("You will be excited seeing a picture, but you'll never know what is behind that.")
Peikwen Cheng
China
1975
Peikwen Cheng studied product design at Stanford University, graduating in 1997. He is a self-taught photographer who has exhibited his work in Cambodia, Canada, China, Germany, Greece, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, Syria, United Kingdom and United States. Before turning his focus to art, he was a designer and was awarded with a United States Design Patent and an Industrial Design Excellence Award by the Industrial Design Society of America. Peikwen Cheng lives in Beijing. Peikwen Cheng is a Chinese-American artist based in New York and Shanghai. His work explores the process of change across cultures, time and place and seeks to discover magical moments in unexpected places. His art has been exhibited in Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, China, Luxembourg, Germany, Greece, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, Syria, United Kingdom and the United States; and his work has been featured by BBC, CNN, BBC, Financial Times, The Guardian, National Public Radio, The Sunday Times, and Vogue. He has been recognized by international awards including the Three Shadows Photography Award, National Geographic Award at the Eddie Adams Workshop, C/O Berlin Talents Award, Renaissance Photography Prize Category Winner, Flash Forward Selected Winner by the Magenta Foundation, Px3, and International Photography Awards. And as a designer, he was awarded with a United States Design Patent and an Industrial Design Excellence Award by the Industrial Design Society of America. He is a graduate of Stanford University, Tsinghua University and Insead. Source: Visura
Robert Hecht
United States
1941
For over fifty years, Robert Hecht has been a dedicated fine art photographer. He is largely self-taught, having learned his craft primarily by studying the prints and books of many of the medium's greats, and then by attempting to apply what he absorbed from them in the darkroom (and later in the digital darkroom). In addition, he studied briefly with photographer and teacher Ruth Bernhard in the 1970's, and considers that experience meaningful for giving him direct contact and exchange of ideas with a master. His work has been exhibited internationally, purchased for both private and public collections, and showcased in many of the leading photography periodicals. Professionally, he has worked primarily as a producer-director of educational film and video programs, first at Stanford University and then in his own video production business for the past several decades. He and his wife live in Portland, Oregon. Statement I consider photography a way, if you will, to bring my experience of the visual world into clearer focus. Practicing the art of photography, which I consider a way of life in and of itself, has heightened my awareness of how in our everyday lives we are constantly surrounded by interesting subject matter. In contrast, during my early years of doing this work, I looked mainly to the classic landscape for inspiration, often pursuing dramatic vistas with large-format cameras. However, over time I came to see that I do not necessarily have to "go out shooting" or travel to impressive locales to find subjects—rather, I merely have to keep my eyes open to what is right here around me in my immediate environment and, without actually searching for a picture, simply be prepared should a picture jump out of the random visual chaos and present itself to me. This shift in focus has led me to a more spontaneous approach to making images, often enabling me to find great beauty in the most mundane materials at hand.
Marco Guerra
Chile
1965
Marco was born in Santiago, Chile, in July 1st 1965. In September 11th of 1973, as the president of Chile was being overthrown by a military coup in the city center, he was struck by the bravery of the photojournalist in the center of it all, risking their life to tell the news story. That day he started to dream in becoming a photographer. Marco got his first photo assistant job at the age of 12, holding a portable flash to photograph Saturday Night Fever children's party, and was amazed how people became egocentric as soon as he pointed the flash in their direction. In 1979 he emigrated with his family to New York city. There he was offered a job working for a photographer who was capturing nights in Studio 54 for Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine. That allowed Marco, to start his aesthetic exploration, and to learn how media and politics shaped the world he was living in. In 1990 he became determined to be a full time artist. He did not allowed himself to do anything that was not related to photography, the history of aesthetic and how we humans interpreted visual information. He started assisting the top International photographers, artist and creative directors of the time and learned to see, analyzed and ask questions. By the mid 1990s he started getting professional assignments as an art, fashion, travel, portrait and advertising photographer for top brands and top magazines like French Vogue, Condé Nast Travel UK, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, New Yorker Magazine, New York Times, and luxury brands such as Levis, Rolex, Ralph Lauren and Bergdorf Goodman, to mention few. By 2001 he started producing, directing and shooting Art films for Ralph Lauren, Rolex and LVMH. In 2002 after meeting and being enchanted by a vision of the American/French/ Moroccan artist Yasmina Alaoui in NYC, they decided to collaborate and explored new areas in Photography, which was changing rapidly because of digital media. By mixing old and new techniques they create "1001 Dreams" series. A project of Love: large formats prints, combining photography and drawing. This work has been exhibited around the world and is part of important collections. Eventually Marco decided to stop doing commercial work and completely focus and explore contemporary art photography. In 2007 after years of soul searching for a non orientalist way to portrait Morocco, he started photographing his Tangiers series over the course of 2 years: Documenting the same street intersection taken from the top of a building, always around 4:30 am in the morning, capturing the intersection of the world of the sexes: the men running home from a long night, and the women starting the work day. This Series was part 2016 Marrakech Biennale, The Pierre Berge Cinematheque Benefit Auction in 2011 in Arle's and Scope Miami 2011 as well print reside in Important collection Internationally. In 2008 to 2012, inspired by a Weston and a paragraph of Neruda ( It is good, at certain hours of the day and night, to look closely at the world of objects at rest.) he set himself with his Rolleiflex , to photograph his “ Volume and lines” series, capturing the stillness and poetry of water cisterns in the palmeraie of Marrakech. This will take several years to shoot. A meditative project, for which he started to spend a lot of time in North Africa. In 2012, Cacerolazo project came alive. Commissioned for the 2012 Marrakech Biennale and inspired by the mood of the time, “Jasmine Revolution” and his childhood memories, marching along the women of Santiago who gathered at dusk , to bang their empty pots and pans in loud and peaceful protest in his native Chile streets. Cacerolazo is a personal examination of the strength and integrity of women and of their power to effect transformation. 10 pieces emerges, each from a mosaic of 119 moments capture with Polaroids, arrayed as tiles. In 2014 he started capturing Moroccan Landscape series, which look natural but have been transformed by humans, and photographed in contemporary neutral tones opposite of a folkloric approach to capturing Morocco. This is an on going project. Next his photography took a big dive to abstraction. Inspired by Sir, Francis Galton and his techniques of composite images, for the next 7 years he would work on composite nudes, cities, monuments and museums. He felt it was the proper choice to speak about time and space repetition. He currently working on composite photography, sculpture project and living between New York and Marrakech.
Samantha VanDeman
United States
1982
Samantha was born in Chicago, IL. She received a BFA in Fine Art from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA in Visual Arts from The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. During the summer of 2003, Samantha studied drawing at Santa Repararta International School of Art in Florence, Italy. Her work has been published and exhibited in the United States and abroad. Samantha lives and works in Chicago, IL. Born in 1982, Samantha VanDeman grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. She studied fine arts at Columbia College Chicago, receiving a BFA in 2005. During her last year in college, she took a B+W photography class and found her passion. From that point on, she started to actively documenting everything around her. In 2007, she returned to college, this time to earn a MFA in photography from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2009. It was during her time at the low residency program at AIB, that she was able to have independent studies with artists such as Anne Wilson, Mayumi Lake, Jeanne Dunning, and Laura Letinsky. Samantha has exhibited her work nationally. Her work has been exhibited at Emory Visual Arts Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Finch and Ada, NY; New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery, New Orleans, LA; Las Manos Gallery, Chicago, IL; Gallery 263, Cambridge, MA; Midwest center for Photography, Wichita, KS; Gallery 808, Boston, MA; Change Artist Space, San Francisco, CA; Perspective Gallery, Evanston, IL; Barrett Art Center Galleries, Poughkeepsie, NY; Fourth Wall Projects in Boston, MA; The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO; Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, OR; Black Box Gallery, Portland, OR; Texas Photographic Society, San Antonio, TX ; Wright Museum of Art in Beloit, WI and Review Santa Fe 100. Samantha VanDeman is adjunct faculty at The Art Institute of Illinois in Tinley Park, IL. All about Samantha VanDeman:AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?My last year as an undergraduate at Columbia College Chicago, I took a Black and white photography class. It was then I knew I wanted to be a photographer. Up until that point, I wanted to be a painter. AAP: Where did you study photography? I studied photography at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. During my time at The Art Institute of Boston, I had independent studies with Laura Letinsky, Jeanne Dunning, Anne Wilson and Mayumi Lake.AAP:Do you have a mentor?Laura Letinksy has been a friend/mentor since 2008 AAP: How long have you been a photographer?10 yearsAAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?My first shot was of rotten fruit.AAP: What or who inspires you?I’m inspired by silence, decay, kindness and long road trips. Artists who inspire me are Jenny Saville, Edward Hopper, Sally Mann and Fiona Apple.AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?Canon 5DAAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?I do minimal editing.AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?Sally Mann, Angela Strassheim, Nan Goldin and Corrine DayAAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?Find your own voice and follow your gut. Your best work will come from the projects you are most passionate about.AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?Trying too hard to be different or copying another photographer’s styleAAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?I’m currently working on a project called “Died Alone”. This project explores abandoned living spaces of people that died alone in their home.AAP: Your best memory has a photographer?My fondest memory: The first time I explored the abandoned – now demolished Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. I had never explored an abandoned place before Michael Reese Hospital, so it opened up a whole new world for me.AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be?Weegee or Walker Evans
Sandrine Hermand-Grisel
Sandrine Hermand-Grisel grew up in Paris, France and in London, UK. She studied International Law before deciding to dedicate her life to photography in 1997. Influenced by her late mother's sculptures and her husbands paintings and films, she worked on several personal projects before her series Nocturnes was recognized in 2005 by Harry Gruyaert, Bertrand Despres and John Batho for the Prix Kodak de la Critique Photographique. In 2006 she moved with her family to the United States and began experimenting landscape photography with her series Somewhere and On the road. Despite the diversity of her projects she has a unique, very intimate, relationship with her subjects. Photography provides her with a way to express her feelings, like in the series ''Nocturnes'' where she photographed only close friends and family members peacefully abandoning themselves in front of her camera. ''Somewhere'' is her dream of America, a road trip through her adopted country. And ''Waterlilies'' is full of joy and love for her two children as she watched them jumping and playing in pools over and over again. Sandrine Hermand-Grisel not only photographs what she loves, she breaks free from her own reality in her poetic vision of the world. In 2013, she created the acclaimed website All About Photo and now spends most of her time discovering new talents while still working on personal projects. All about Sea Sketches Since I was a little girl my parents insisted that my brother and I accompany them almost every weekend to see an exhibition, a museum or an historic house. What was excruciating at first slowly became a real pleasure. Thanks to them, I had the privilege to see incredible exhibitions both in Paris and London where I grew up. Depending on my age and moods at the time, I favored a century, a movement, a painter... It was love at first sight when I discovered "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" by Caspar David Friedrich. In the foreground, a young man stands upon a rocky precipice with his back to the viewer. He overlooks a landscape covered in a thick sea of fog. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, the subtle colors, the calm and yet the movement that came from the wind. I perceived the character as content and in harmony with nature and I wondered if one day I would find my perfect place... and many years later, I did. On the west coast of Florida lies Anna Maria, a quaint barrier island nestled in the Gulf of Mexico. The water is warm and turquoise, the sand is white. Well preserved, the birds and turtles come here to nest while the respectful tourists lie on the sand every night to witness the incredible sunsets. Time is suspended. With the romantic painters Turner and Friedrich in mind, I captured a glimpse of Anna Maria, its light, its beaches, its movement, its unleashed elements... I hope you will immerse yourself in my Sea Sketches "paintings" and escape with me, even for the length of a sigh, from the harsh realities of life and share my happy place.
Carolyn Drake
United States
Carolyn Drake works on long term photo-based projects seeking to interrogate dominant historical narratives and imagine alternatives to them. Her work explores community and the interactions within it, as well as the barriers and connections between people, between places and between ways of perceiving. Her practice has embraced collaboration, and through this, collage, drawing, sewing, text, and found images have been integrated into her work. She is interested in collapsing the traditional divide between author and subject, the real and the imaginary, challenging entrenched binaries. Drake was born in California and studied Media/Culture and History in the early 1990s at Brown University. Following her graduation from Brown, in 1994, Drake moved to New York and worked as a interactive concept designer for many years before departing to engage with the physical world through photography. Between 2007 and 2013, Drake traveled frequently to Central Asia from her base in Istanbul to work on two long term projects which became acclaimed bodies of work. Wild Pigeon (2014) is an amalgam of photographs, drawings, and embroideries made in collaboration with Uyghurs in western China. In 2018, the SFMOMA acquired the body of work and opened a six month solo exhibition of Wild Pigeon. Two Rivers (2013) explores the connections between ecology, culture and political power along the Amu Dary and Syr Darya rivers and was exhibited at The Pitt Rivers Museum, the Soros Foundation, the Third Floor Gallery, and the Photo Book Museum, among other venues. In Internat (2014-17), Drake worked with young women in an ex Soviet orphanage to create photographs and paintings that point beyond the walls of the institution and its gender expectations. The work was exhibited at the Houston Center for Photography in the US, and at Si Fest and Officine Fotografiche Roma in Italy. Drake returned to the US in 2014 and is now based in Vallejo, California, from where she is currently making work that upends perceptions of gender, community, and safety in her own community. Drake is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, the Lange-Taylor Prize, the Anamorphosis prize, an HCP fellowship, a Lightwork residency, and a Fulbright fellowship to Ukraine, among other awards. Her work has been published widely, in publications such as The New Yorker, Aperture, The New York Review of Books, Harpers, The New York Times Magazine, Prix Pictet, IMA, the British Journal of Photography, The Guardian, and Paris Review. She became a member of Magnum Photos in 2019. Source: carolyndrake.com
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