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.
Everyone loves a good story. More importantly, everyone loves a good storyteller. I believe that storytelling is a critical element of photography and mainly because great photographs share at least one common element with great stories - time. As I reviewed the photographs submitted for the “Traces” exhibition, I thought a lot about time and how the passage of time before, during or after the exposure can tell a story. Just as in every great story, every great photograph requires excellence in idea and execution. For me, the images that rose to the top provided a combination of conceptual elegance as well as technical excellence in terms of a craftsman’s attention to detail regarding exposure and careful framing.
Slowly making my way through the submitted images, the ones I came back to again and again were those where story came to the fore. The photographs put me in those places, seeing the gentle fall of light on a leaf or a carefully patched surface tells me a story about the passage of time. Seasons and landscapes change slowly, while smoke from an ember, water’s trickling flow and momentary human gesture speak to ephemeral stories.
I found an interesting dividing line between photographs where the photographer hunted down and captured the way the world looks in that moment and those that required the photographer – often in concert with a subject – to intervene and gather together elements that tell a story about the traces of the past. That division shows me that both photographic “hunters” of subject matter and photographers who “gather” their subjects in order to photograph them approach the art on equal footing.
I chose the Juror’s Award photograph because its story was told so beautifully, as traces of past preparations of food combined with objects that have their own past. Those “gathered” objects are placed in the scene – and the frame – so perfectly, then are bathed in the most gorgeous, revealing light, telling me about time and place, past and future.
The Director’s Award image seems to me to be a “hunted” image, found by thoughtful stalking of subject matter. Thuddingly monochromatic stone – what appears to be lava – is interrupted by a strange blip of color. An anomalous geologic happenstance? A passing bird’s gift? Misplaced molten lava? Because the photographer has eliminated any sense of scale in the image, we may never know. Regardless, it’s an image that tells a story that traces primordial time.
I sincerely enjoyed the experience of looking at all of the photographs that were submitted – thank you to all who rose to the call for entries.
— Jeff Curto
Even the most mundane human activity leaves evidence of its existence. A once-loved stuffed animal left on the swing set, fragments of an old wedding dress, traces in the sand, all speak of the passage of time. Larger human activities leave boarded-up storefronts, crumbling infrastructure and repurposed structures. No matter the scale, they all leave a nostalgic hint of an irretrievable past.For this exhibition, we seek images that hint of people and events come and gone by, as told by the traces left behind.
We are very pleased that Jeff Curto will be the of juror Traces. He will select up to 35 images for exhibition in our Middlebury, Vermont gallery and another 40 images for our Online Gallery. All 75 images will be reproduced in the exhibition catalog and remain permanently on our website, with links to photographer’s URL.
To further reward excellence, we are offering a $500 reward to the Juror's Award recipient, and $250 to the Director's Award recipient.
Photographer Jeff Curto is Professor Emeritus of Photography at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he taught from 1984 to 2014. Since 2014, he has been a regular faculty member with the University of Georgia’s Studies Abroad program in Cortona Tuscany.
He was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1981 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bennington College in Vermont in 1983. Additionally, he attended Ansel Adams’ last workshop in Carmel, California in 1983. In 2009, inspired by the learning environment that workshops can foster, Curto began leading his own annual photography workshops in Italy, which continue annually. A former chair of the board of directors for the Society for Photographic Education (SPE), Curto was also named Honored Educator for SPE’s Midwest Chapter in 2013.
An early adopter of podcasting as a form of instruction and communication, Jeff recorded his History of Photography class sessions for online use. His Camera Position podcast is an informal discussion of photography’s creative aspects.
Jeff’s photographic work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and is held in many public and private collections.
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