2019 SPE Mid-Atlantic Chapter Conference Summary

exposure magazine
exposure magazine
Published in
5 min readDec 15, 2019


By Eric Weeks, Chair of Photography & Video Department at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design

Nat Raum (center) and others at the 2019 MidAtlantic SPE Chapter Conference

The Mid-Atlantic Region held the Photography Practices in the Mid-Atlantic Region conference on Saturday, October 12th at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design (PCA&D) in Lancaster, PA. Over 70 photographers, educators, graduate and undergraduate students attended the event. The conference committee consisted of Co-Chairs PCA&D Professor Emerita Christine Welch, PCA&D Photography & Video Department Chair Eric Weeks and PCA&D faculty member David Johanson. Invaluable guidance and assistance was provided by SPEMA Chapter Chair Rebecca Michaels, Co-Chair Elena Volkova and Treasurer/Secretary Jeanne Anderton.

PCA&D last hosted the Conference in 2014, and we were excited to welcome members to our campus this year. MIKE MOLLA, President of the college, began the one-day event by welcoming attendees and expressing his support for both the PCA&D Photography & Video Department and the SPE MidAtlantic Chapter.

Conference Committee members, in discussion with Rebecca Michaels, decided not to dictate a specific theme for this year’s one day event, but to highlight the depth and breadth of our regional members’ current practices. What are people in the Mid-Atlantic region making these days? What are their concepts and concerns? And the call for proposals asked just that: We are interested to see and hear about what you are making! The response was overwhelming, with many diverse and interesting topics. The committee discovered that it needed to rethink the format of the one day conference to include a greater number of presentations. We settled on seven half-hour presentations, followed by a one hour featured speaker presentation.

All attendees greeted each other and networked in the morning over bagels, muffins and coffee. The presentations then started with TESSA STEWART discussing her current video and still work related to the family archive and technology. A Philadelphia resident, she is currently in her second year of graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Adriana Monsalve and Christopher Metzger presenting, Photo courtesy of Elena Volkova

ADRIANA MONSALVE and Professor CHRISTOPHER METZGER followed with a discussion of their collaborative work with the Baltimore community. Monsalve is a co-founder of Homie House Press, which works with “QTPOC artists and other underrepresented communities.” They spoke about the workshops she and Metzger have led in his photography classes at Stevenson University.

Professor ANDREAS RENTSCH from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA spoke next. He detailed his use of alternative processes, as well as presented on a number of other photography practitioners using non-traditional means.

Professors DANIEL KRAUS and BYRON WOLFE, both from Tyler School of Art and Architecture, offered an interesting glimpse into their collaborative research on the 19th century team of Frederick and William Langenheim, and two “micro-photos” the brothers made that are currently housed in the Wagner Free Institute for Science in Philadelphia.

SPEMA Chapter Chair Rebecca Michaels, Co-Chair Elena Volkova and Treasurer/Secretary Jeanne Anderton led a lively discussion during the Chapter meeting about future possible Chapter events and workshops before everyone spread out to the nearby restaurants of downtown Lancaster.

After lunch, NAT RAUM, a recent BFA graduate from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, spoke about the history of bookmaking and her own practice. She is a multi-media artist working primarily with photography, creative writing and bookmaking.

TROY HOLLEMAN, a faculty member at PCA&D, gave a presentation on how social media and technology are changing lens-based practices.

Franklin & Marshall Professor of Art History RICHARD KENT gave a scholarly lecture, titled Layering Time in Lessons in Recursion: What Happens When an Historian of Chinese Art Makes Photographs, addressing the influence of Chinese painting and philosophy on his photography.

Featured Presenter Justyna Badach. Photo courtesy of Elena Volkova

Featured Speaker JUSTYNA BADACH, artist and Head of Imaging at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, gave an overview of her career and an in-depth look at her recent body of work Land of Epic Battles. In this series, Badach appropriates single frames from Isis-produced propaganda videos. She then makes prints using a form of 19th century salt process with the addition of gunpowder. The results have a beautiful open-tonality, with an inherent violence in the imagery, process and resulting object.

After Badach’s presentation, the conference moved to the nearby DEMUTH MUSEUM for a SPE Mid-Atlantic Members’ Exhibition reception. The museum is the former 18th century home of Precisionist painter Charles Demuth. The show was an eclectic gathering of photography and video works by over 35 members, which emphasized the (un)theme of the varied presentations throughout the day. It was an apt end of a very full and informative one-day conference which showcased the wide-range of photographic practice throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. A catalog of Mid-Atlantic members works can be viewed and ordered here: https://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1675425

Rebecca Michaels (SPEMA Chair), Tessa Stewart, and Troy Holleman. Photo courtesy of Elena Volkova

Pennsylvania College of Art & Design was founded in 1982 as a NASAD accredited three-year art school in Marietta, Pennsylvania. It became a four-year BFA granting college in 2002. It is currently accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), is approved as a college and for degree-granting privileges by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD).