Poignant Pics no. 2 // K.K. DePaul

Welcome to our second installment of Poignant Pics where I’ve asked photo curators, educators, collectors and makers to share a brief essay on a photo that has significantly changed the way they think or look at the world. Poignant Pics no. 2 is written by Diffusion alum and all around talented photo-crafter K.K. DePaul.

La Loteria II by Luis González Palma

The Seduction

I am a firm believer that anything that is worthwhile starts with a seduction.

Ten years ago, as I was deciding whether or not to change careers and embrace a life in photography, I was a guest at a reception for prospective MFA candidates. It was held at the spectacular home of one of the board members and there were amazing photographs on every wall. I turned a corner, and I was rooted to the spot. It was my first encounter with the work of Luis González Palma. And I felt the thunderbolt of love at first sight. I was, quite frankly, smitten.

Until that time, my knowledge and experience was with Street Photography…chasing and capturing a moment. The taking of a photograph.

This work was about crafting an image. Collecting props. Casting actors on a stage to suggest an unspoken story. He uses collage, words, symbols, and oil paint to create spectacularly beautiful images that seduce me with their mysterious gaze.

It’s like Poetry…I can’t really explain why I am drawn in…but I feel it. I keep coming back… like a magnet pulling me…and I continue wanting to know more.

My encounter with this work changed the course of my direction in photography.  I gave myself permission to break rules I had imposed upon myself…and the world opened before my eyes.

— K.K. DePaul

K.K. DePaul is an explorer of secrets, combining and recombining bits and pieces of memory to make sense of her family stories.

“I have always been fascinated by multiple interpretations, double exposures, and the ambiguities that arise depending on which character is telling the story. My process begins with a collection of elements…images…writing. As I move the elements around, a visual narrative begins to take shape, signaling a new understanding of parallel stories. My use of collage indicates a story told in two voices, representing identities that have been torn apart, stripped, reflected upon, and ultimately reconstructed.”

Poignant Pics no. 1 // Frances Jakubek

We’re launching a new series of posts titled Poignant Pics where I’ve asked photo curators, collectors and makers to write about a photograph or two that, in one way or another, has significantly impacted their cerebral cortex. Here, we will post the images and the words they want to share about them. A big thank you to Frances Jakubek for setting the bar!

Domino Players, Walls Unit, TDC, 1967 by Danny Lyon

What does one do to pass the time while time is passing without them? Danny Lyon photographed the Texas Department of Corrections in 1967 and unearthed the human element within the institution.

The two men pictured in this photograph are opponents in the current game but suffer a matching consequence and ultimately the same fate. Signs of repetition and redundancy echo as markers of these men’s daily existence. Tallies on the table keep score but also denote the passage of spent time. Ritual and routine become mandatory; life’s pleasures are condensed into allotted leisurely time.  Wearing of the seats shows evidence of hours dedicated to a game while the actual game of life carries on beyond them.

The notion of privacy and freedom is lost from the activity as we notice just a hint of a figure in the bottom left corner. A guard. A barrier. A reminder that these two men are paying a price while playing a game. Our American bald eagle, the symbol of freedom, arises in the shape of the dominos creating an irony between liberty and reality. The eagle beckons up to the camera, Lyon’s perspective dwarfs the noble bird and unhinges the viewer by forcing them to look down at the symbol we are accustomed to looking up at.

We are free until a mistake is made, and even then, the clock keeps ticking.

–Frances Jakubek


Frances Jakubek is a lover of and advocate for photography. As an artist and independent curator, she is most interested in the storytelling capabilities of the medium. Jakubek was a recent panelist for the Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowships, judge for the Shoreline Arts Alliance photography exhibition, speaker at the Photographic Society of New England, and guest curator for “The Curated Fridge.” Gaining the bulk of her experience as the Associate Director of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Massachusetts, she now resides in New York City and has joined the team at Bruce Silverstein Gallery.
Diffusion 2015 Invitational // Full List

Diffusion 2015 Invitational // Full List

Adam Neese
Alison Carey
Ben Mittleman
Bob Cornelis
Brenda Biondo
Brett Henrikson
Carol Golemboski
Claire Warden
Cody Swanson
Diane Fenster
Heidi Clapp-Temple
James Wigger
Jan Cook
Jessica Somers
Kim Campbell
Jonah Calinawan
Louviere + Vanessa
Marcy Palmer
Marisa Redburn
Matthew Brandt
Michael Trupiano
Milisa Taylor-Hicks
Paul Kenny
Philip Augustin
Rachael Banks
Rita Maas
Ross Faircloth
Ross Sonnenberg
Saul Robbins
Shawn Saumell
Smith Eliot
Tami Bone
Viki Garcia
Ville Kansanen

© Matthew Brandt

© Milisa Taylor-Hicks

Jake Shivery Prints for Sale & Book Review by George Slade

Jake Shivery Prints for Sale & Book Review by George Slade

Jake Shivery, Contact

The camera salesman Mr. J. Shivery reveals his meditations on vision and community in this eloquent commingling of first-person text and second-person imagery. Contact, the book’s title, assumes both literal and metaphoric implications. Literal, in the sense of contact sheets: these pages reproduce 8x10 inch negatives, the photographer’s choice medium, at a 1:1 ratio. Metaphoric, in the extraordinary way in which his vision contacts spiritual essence that speaks of both individual and communal truths. Qualities of place and relationship flow between people, photographer, and final image.

To label the work in Contact portraiture is too flat an assessment. One of the photographer’s dreams, recounted in his soul-baring, modestly profound afterword, described a large-format lens that has abandoned precise measurement and quantities in favor of symbolic suggestion. For me, this imagined instrument called to mind the alethiometer of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series—a mechanical instrument that utilizes intuition and insight to construct a truth educed from images. Which seems an apt characterization of the artist Jake Shivery’s oneiric, radiant records of singular individuals, including himself, in his Pacific Northwest realm.

(And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that Daisy, the hobbling black labrador, was in fact Jake’s daemon.)

—George Slade, re:photographica, and executive director, TC Photo, Minneapolis, Minnesota


All images are 8x10 inches. Contact printed by hand in the traditional darkroom of Blue Moon Camera and Machine, all prints are made on Ilford Warm Tone Fibre paper to strict archival specifications, including a light selenium tone. Open edition. Click image to purchase.


All images are 8x10 inches. Contact printed by hand in the traditional darkroom of Blue Moon Camera and Machine, all prints are made on Ilford Warm Tone Fibre paper to strict archival specifications, including a light selenium tone. Open edition. Click image to purchase.


All images are 8x10 inches. Contact printed by hand in the traditional darkroom of Blue Moon Camera and Machine, all prints are made on Ilford Warm Tone Fibre paper to strict archival specifications, including a light selenium tone. Open edition. Click image to purchase.

Book review: The Hereditary Estate by Daniel W. Coburn

Book review: The Hereditary Estate by Daniel W. Coburn

Despite photography as a practice being deeply and irrevocably rooted in the physical world, its goals are psychological in nature. In The Hereditary Estate, Daniel W. Coburn expands the traditional family photo album to show the full spectrum of familial emotion and memory, complete with images that are manipulated to engage the psyche. In both written pieces proceeding and following Coburn’s album, ghosts are a common theme, and we as members of an American family all share in being the haunted and the haunting.

The book is filled with images that come from Coburn’s family archives as well as the estates and albums of strangers. Some are manipulated to convey the intended effects, others are in their original form haunting and foreboding. This addendum to the traditional “ideal, white, hetero-normative twentieth century family” (Coburn) album is filled with traumas and hauntings, but also a desire to tell more of the whole story, the whole history, in each photograph. Images of daughters, brothers, and aunts with faces scratched out and distorted shine light on the darkness inherited within the nucleus of the nuclear family.

As an alternative offering of the American photo album, Coburn does make great strides in challenging the typical, overly-positive ideal. One particularly interesting image shows a young white boy holding a firecracker—an image that is inherently American—the smoke from which badly distorts our view of his face. This image alone is an excellent example of contrast between the American dream and the reality of our struggles on the journey to find it. It is, however, still a representation of much of what Coburn himself criticizes the early Eastman Kodak advertisements of being: while no longer ideal, it still only represents the “white, hetero-normative twentieth century family”.

“…this is a book of emotions”

When I first opened this book and flipped through it for initial impressions, I left myself a note for when I would finally have time for proper review. Upon opening the book again, it was sitting just under the front cover waiting for me: a blank sheet of paper with the word “Emotion” scrawled across the middle. I stand by this initial impression that this is a book of emotions. Like anything emotional, you will get out of it what you bring to it. Whether it’s a jarring looking into a family that is foreign to you or a past that reflects and engages the memories of your own, this collection of images is sure to evoke a psychological response.

Katt Janson Merilo

The Hereditary Estate is the first major monograph by photographer Daniel W. Coburn.  The images are presented with two thoughtful essays contributed by Karen Irvine, Curator and Associate Director at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, and Kirsten Pai Buick, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of New Mexico.

Hardcover with Swiss Binding  //  29 x 22,5 cm  //  112 pages  //  76 duotone ills.  //  English  //  ISBN 978-3-86828-537-6  //  2014


Crusade Engagement Grant Offers $10,000 for Innovation


The Crusade Engagement Grant awards $10,000 annually to the applicant with the most innovative idea to build audiences for photography.

Crusade for Art, the grantmaking organization, is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to creating demand for art. Our work is about developing and supporting innovative initiatives to create demand for art and opportunities to collect it.

The Crusade Engagement Grant puts our greatest resource, the brainpower of our creative force, our artists, toward exploring solutions to the systemic problem of a lack of demand for art. This $10,000 grant aims to generate and highlight innovations and underwrite the execution of the best idea.

The 2014 Engagement Grant went to Matthew Conboy, a Pittsburgh photographer who developed a program called Start With Art to give original, signed photographs from local artists to babies born in area hospitals. Other finalist ideas included digital photography billboards, photobook collectives, a traveling “Zine Machine”, the creation of photography collections in schools, and others.

The grant application is a two-phase process, with up to ten finalists continuing on to the second phase.

In the initial application, photographers/project organizers must submit a description (500 words or less) of their project idea and a $25 application fee. Up to ten finalists will be invited to submit a full application. The full application will require applicants to include a detailed project description, timeline, budget, projected audience reach, and expected impact of the program. There is no additional application fee for finalist applications. A three-member selection committee will select the grant award recipient based on the proposed project’s creativity, originality, and probability for success as well as the applicant’s credibility and references.

The three members of the selection committee are:

  • Alison Zavos, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Feature Shoot
  • Brian Sholis, Associate Curator of Photography, Cincinnati Museum of Art
  • Ann Jastrab, Gallery Director, RAYKO Photo Center of San Francisco

Applications are now open! The deadline for submissions is April 17. Finalists will be announced May 1, and the grant award winner will be announced in June.

For more information, visit www.crusadeforart.org/crusade-engagement-grant or call (404) 790-9078.

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