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Portals: Windows, Mirrors and Doors

Deadline for submissions: Nov 13, 2023
Juror: Roula Seikaly
Prints due: Dec 21, 2023
Exhibition: January 5 - January 26, 2024

Prints of most of these images are available for purchase. Please inquire.
All photographs are the copyright of the individual artists and may not be reproduced without their permission.

Juror's Statement

Doors and windows were among the most popular subjects for early photographic practitioners. Universal forms — rectangle and square — were ready elements that anchored numerous compositions and, because they were static and didn't blur over long exposure times. Through these elements, we briefly glimpsed the creative questions that animated practitioners including Jacques-Louis Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot. Well outside Europe and the North American continent, photographs of portals delivered contemporaneous and later audiences into storied spiritual and cultural palaces in faraway cities. 

Many Portals submissions activate a similar curiosity. Shutters fronting windows on vibrantly painted walls made me wonder about the lives unfolding in the rooms just beyond the threshold, and how thin the line between public and private. Other images report undulating abstraction, or portals that defy the law of physics and render our world momentarily unstable. Still others capture natural portals — stone and snow caves and breaks in canyon walls — that beckon us to step through.

Being a juror is a pleasure because it allows me to look at images cold. That is to say, without any supplementary knowledge of the artist or the series from which the image originates. My eyes landed on numerous, new-to-me compositions that delightfully raised the hairs on the back of my neck, foremost among them Juror and Director Award winners Marie Plakos and Tim Johnston, respectively. 

I could be reading into the subject, but what I see in Plakos' lush composite image suggests not only a physical portal, such as a gate in one of the tragically named West African "slave castles," but an emotional and psychological portal through which viewers may travel. Tim Johnston replied to the straightforward prompt with a composition that elegantly expands and complicates the assignment. In the midst of a mundane winter scene, he presents a portal to something so far beyond the mundane that we struggle to comprehend it. It's precisely photography's unique ability to deliver us to other emotional or intellectual spaces that is captured in these remarkable images. 

What a gift it was to see and spend time with so many accomplished submissions to the Portals open call. I am deeply thankful to the artists who shared their work.

                   —  Roula Seikaly

Call for Entries

For our purposes, a portal can be an architectural feature (gate, window, doorway, mirror, tunnel) that frames or isolates or adds dimension to an image. In a fictional sense, a portal can become a magical doorway through time and space. Alone or in combination, they hold unlimited creative possibilities for photographers.

For “Portals: Windows, Mirrors, and Doors”, we're looking for images that use these devices in intriguing ways. All capture methods and processes are welcome.

We are very pleased that Roula Seikaly will jury this exhibition. She will select 35 images for exhibition in our Middlebury, Vermont gallery and up to 40 more for our Online Gallery. All 75 images will be reproduced in the exhibition catalog. 

Information about our printing service and free matting and framing here.

About the Juror

Roula Seikaly is an Oakland-based independent curator, writer, and Co-Director at Humble Arts Foundation. Her curatorial practice addresses contemporary photography and new media, social justice efforts in contemporary art, exhibition making, and institutional critique. Her writing is published virtually and in print on platforms including Hyperallergic, photographBOMB Magazine, and KQED Arts.

She has curated exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, SF Camerawork, Blue Sky Gallery, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and Photographic Center Northwest. In September 2023, Roula and photographer David Johnson co-founded Print Study for All, an educational initiative dedicated to serving photography students and educators in culturally underserved areas nationwide through traveling print boxes.

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