PhotoSynthesis XV is a collaboration of the Burlington High School and Winchester High School facilitated by the Griffin Museum of Photography. This creative student exhibition is online through August 30th here at the Griffin.
By creating photographic portraits of themselves and their surroundings, students from Burlington High School and Winchester High School have been exploring their sense of self and place in a unique collaborative program at the Griffin Museum.
In its fifteenth year, the 5-month program connects approximately 20 students – from each school – with each other and with professional photographers. The goal is to increase students’ awareness of the art of photography, as well as how being from different programs and different schools affects their approach to the same project.
The students were given the task of creating a body of work that communicates a sense of self and place. They were encouraged to explore the importance of props, the environment, facial expression, metaphor, and body language in portrait photography.
Mentors for the PhotoSynthesis program this year were Suzanne Révy and Bill Franson. See their bios below. With the pandemic we had to eliminate the final exhibition that culminates in the Main Gallery of the museum and the one on one critiques that Alison Nordstrom, former photography curator of the George Eastman House, has done for 14 years. See Dr. Nordstrom’s bio below. We added an installation for photo students onto the Photoville Fence in Winchester and also have provided a virtual exhibition on our exhibition our website.
Students met with mentors Suzanne Révy in November and Bill Franson in February.
After graduating from high school in Los Angeles, Suzanne Révy (b. 1962) moved to Brooklyn, NY and earned a BFA in photography from the Pratt Institute where she was immersed in making and printing black and white photographs. She studied with Phil Perkis, Bill Gedney, Ann Mandlebaum, Christine Osinski, and Judy Linn among others. Following art school she worked as a photography editor for U.S.News & World Report magazine in Washington, DC and later as acting picture editor for Yankee magazine in Dublin, NH.With the arrival of two sons, she left the world of publishing and began to make pictures of her children, their cousins, and friends rekindling her interest in making and printing black and white pictures in a traditional wet darkroom. The resulting monochrome series, Time Let Me Play is an exploration of the nature and culture of childhood and childhood play. A second portfolio, To Venerate the Simple Days, was made using a simple plastic camera with color film; it pictured the time spent during the summers with her pre-teen aged children. The images represent an emotional response to that brief moment between childhood and adulthood. She continued to work with color film in the final series of visual family diaries, I Could Not Prove the Years Had Feet. This last portfolio was begun while earning her MFA in photography from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, and it chronicled the shifts and changes of her growing boys as they navigated their teen years.
While pursuing her MFA, she was mentored by photographers a Cheryle St. Onge, a former professor Christine Osinski, Edie Bresler, Stephen Dirado, and independent curator Francine Weiss. Anticipating the imminent departure of her children, she also turned her attention to the mundane in a series of mobile phone images featured in A Certain Slant of Light, which led to an interest in making landscape diptychs and triptychs using medium format and color film seen in a work in progress tentatively titled A Murmur in the Trees.
Her work has been shown at the Newport Art Museum in Newport, RI, the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA, the Fitchburg Art Museum in Fitchburg, MA, the Danforth Art Museum, and the Garner Center Gallery at the New England School of Photography among others. She is on the faculty of the Institute of Art and Design at New England College and the Associate Editor for the online magazine What Will You Remember?
Bill Franson worked as a staff photographer at several production houses in the Boston area until going out on his own in the mid 90s. Clients include Johnson & Johnson Innovations, Polaris Venture Partners, Paul Russell and Co., Classic Cars Magazine UK, Childrens’ Hospital-Boston, Brigham and Womens’ Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Lahey Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, The Peabody Essex Museum, The Boston Globe, Genuine Interactive, and The Governors Academy. He’s exhibited in numerous solo and group shows in Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and NYC, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, Texas, and Toronto Canada. Personal highlights have been the Danforth Museum New England Photographers Biennial in 2015, 2011, and 2003, Strange Days at Philips Exeter in 2015, A Nickel and a Kopek at the NESOP Center for Photographic Exhibitions in 2008, Calvin College in 2011, and Panopticon Gallery in 2013. His work resides in various institutional and private collections.
In 2006 New England School of Photography offered Bill a teaching position. He never looked back. Teaching has reconnected him with those who are passionate about image making and actively exploring its possibilities. He taught his last class at NESOP in their 2019 Spring semester, finishing up two days before the school announced that it will close in 2020.
He is currently a professor of photography at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. and is represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston.
Alison Nordstrom, the former curator of the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., and photographer Sam Sweezy usually gather with students for a one-on-one discussion of their work and a final edit was created for the exhibition at the museum. This year the critique and the exhibition were cancelled due to the pandemic and social distancing requirements. As student couldn’t access the darkrooms the teachers Robert Gillis and Lexi Djordjevic worked independently from home with students and developed projects and created powerpoint presentations. These have been created as reduced pdf’s to present on-line for our public. Our regrets to these students that they have had such losses this school year. I hope they know we are still watching out for them.
“In collaboration and through creative discourse these students have grown,” said Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director of the Griffin Museum. “We are very pleased to be able to share this year’s students’ work. We thank the mentors and teachers for providing a very meaningful experience for the students. We also want to thank the Griffin Foundation and the John and Mary Murphy Educational Foundation, whose continued commitment over the past 15 years to this project made learning possible. To paraphrase Elliot Eisner, the arts enabled these students to have an experience that they could have from no other source.’’