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James R. Southard is a photographer, videographer and 2011 MFA graduate from Carnegie Mellon University.

My eyes were visually seduced for over two hours whilst pouring over James Southard’s photographs. Forget film, these works put the cliched phrase “lights, camera, action!” to shame. Going high contrast and high drama in his series Tooth and Nail, 2011 (images #1-4 above), Southard created epic scene sets which seemingly depict historical events al la Caravaggio or Delacroix. A second glance however reveals bizarrely out of place objects: a ukelele used as a spear, a bike used as a horse, taped paper hats in place of metal helmets, oh, and LOTS of crepe streamers. Awesome. It’s like your first grade class went to war…except these guys are actually sneaker laden adults.

As for the second series, titled The Inherent Pull, (images #5-8), Southard fabricated dramatic, film-noir-like environments with simple materials such as construction paper and plastic. Don’t see it? Take a look at his process in the video below:

The final series shown, Neither Here Nor There, is a step-by-step documentation of people in movement and how their paths intersect and overlap over brief periods of time.

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Santiago Forero is a photographer and 2010 MFA graduate from The University of Texas at Austin.

If you could calculate the exact number of times someone tells you “No, you can’t do that” over the course of your life, my theory is that it would probably end up being quite a stinking heap. “No, you’re too thin – too fat – too tall – too small,” quotes that many of us hear, have heard, and endure on a daily basis thanks to our ever-loving media/society. As such, Santiago Forero was probably told he wasn’t going to be able to do a bunch of stuff because of his physical characteristics; However, instead of succumbing to life’s so-called “impossibilities” (like many of us do), he decided to explore the realm of attainability.

Altering his physical appearance and creating custom made costumes (with designer Alison Heryer) for the series The Olympic Games (Images #1-5) and Action Heros (Images #6-8), Forero manages to transform himself into convincing stereotypes of today’s heros and villains. Combating what he calls the “superficial judgments about the “other”, Santiago allows us to observe his own physical limitations in order to question the aspects of masculinity, scale, identity and virility.

In the series A Story About Gnomes (Images #9-11) Santiago compares and/or relates his own self-portraits to photographs taken of his niece. Drawing attention to similar postures, motions and environments, Forero lets the viewer interpret each photographic situation with either a sense of humor or alarm.

Do also check out Santiago Forero’s video The Widowmaker! This video, broken up into 6 segments, portrays Forero as a slightly menacing, yet quietly ‘manly’ character. A little bit creepy, a little bit funny, The Widowmaker successfully translates Forero’s photographic mission into film. The clip below (part 2 of 6) is entitled Chapter 1: Into the Woods.

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Johanna Warwick is a photographer and a 2010 MFA graduate from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Quiet, understated beauty. That’s the thought that ran through my head when glimpsing Johanna Warwick’s photographs. Focusing on the contrast between lightness vs. darkness, heaviness vs. emptiness and life vs. death, Johanna Warwick is able to capture the delicate balance of life’s opposing forces. Whether it be to document an empty quarry or her own family, Warwick’s use of color and light gives one the sense of muted comfort. The last image shown (image #12) is actually a series of four separate photographs in which Warwick focuses on ceilings. These images are part of a larger series entitled The Weight of the World where Warwick tries to capture the feeling of being a young adult and trying to find out who you are:

“The pictures are portraying that internal space that we all have and I think for me they come from this time in our early 20s, where you’re trying to figure out what you’re doing and where your going and that sense of being lost….We are always going to know that place. We are always going to know that feeling and that sense of being lost. To me that’s where it came from.” -Johanna Warwick as quoted from Function Magazine. 

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