Sold-out conference features Art Center faculty, highlights vitality of photographic education

Dennis Keeley

Photography and Imaging Chair Dennis Keeley to lead Industry and Education Forum at SPE conference

Teachers, critics, curators, gallery directors, image-makers, collectors and students convene in Chicago this week for the 50th National Conference of the Society for Photographic Education (SPE). With 1,600 registered attendees, the conference is completely sold out for the second year in a row.

Invited participants in the March 7–10, 2013 conference include Dennis Keeley, chair of Photography and Imaging at Art Center and board member of SPE, who will lead the Industry and Education Forum on Sat. March 9 at 9 a.m.; and featured speaker Mona Kuhn, Art Center faculty member, presenting her work on Friday, March 8 at 10 a.m.

This year’s conference theme, “Conferring Significance: Celebrating Photography’s Continuum,” examines how concentration on a subject has allowed image, concept, criticism, teaching and learning to shape the past, present and future of photography.

Mona Kuhn

SPE invited speaker, Photography and Imaging faculty member Mona Kuhn

Representing the intersection of fine art practice, education and history, SPE’s first annual national conference was held in Chicago in 1963. Art Center College of Design’s own pioneering role in the field began more than three decades earlier, with the founding in 1931 of its Photography Department, whose notable early faculty included Ansel Adams.

Art Center’s renowned Photography and Imaging program helps photographers acquire the skills and creative fluency needed to create resonant visual documents, not just well crafted representations. In addition to conceptual and studio classes, students study technology, fine art, history and advertising, and take courses in business planning, branding and marketing. The College’s state-of-the-art traditional and digital labs support a wide variety of photographic processes. Students stay abreast of the continuous technical transformations impacting photography, including the ways images are captured, enhanced and distributed. The program also dissects issues such as authorship and originality in relation to digital technologies.

Ansel Adams at Art Center c1942

Ansel Adams instructing a class at Art Center, circa 1942. Photograph by Gerald Murison. Gift of Gerald P. B. Murison (PHOT 1946). © Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, Calif.

The Society for Photographic Education is a nonprofit membership organization that provides and fosters an understanding of photography as a means of diverse creative expression, cultural insight and experimental practice. Through its interdisciplinary programs, services and publications, the society seeks to promote a broader understanding of the medium in all its forms through teaching and learning, scholarship and criticism. The conference is the centerpiece of SPE’s ongoing national and regional programming.

—Sylvia Sukop

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