Kathleen Robbins, Sarah Cusimano Miles and Priya Kambli were selected from among 65 photographers who attended the 2011 PhotoNOLA Portfolio Review.
For one weekend photographers had one-on-one meetings with influential editors, curators and gallerists assembled from throughout the U.S. After the portfolio reviews concluded, each reviewer was asked to select three outstanding projects. Kathleen Robbins received the most votes, earning her the PhotoNOLA Review Prize, which includes a solo exhibition at the New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery during the seventh annual PhotoNOLA, 50 copies of her own Blurb book and a cash award of $1000. 2nd Place winner, Sarah Cusimano Miles, and 3rd Place winner, Priya Kambli, are recognized with image galleries on the PhotoNOLA website.
Kathleen Robbins, winner of the 2011 PhotoNOLA Review Prize, is based in Columbia, South Carolina where she directs the photography program at the University of South Carolina. Her photographs explore the Mississippi Delta, where she was raised. Robbins’ award winning project, Into the Flatland, will be on view at the New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery during PhotoNOLA 2012.
“Kathleen’s In Cotton and Flatlands projects truly embody a Southern sense of place. She has a gift for establishing strong relationships with her subjects to produce beautiful images.” – Maggie Brett Kennedy, Photography Director, GARDEN & GUN
Sarah Cusimano Miles
Sarah Cusimano Miles, second place winner of the 2011 Review Prize, is an exhibiting artist, photographer, and educator, who teaches at Jacksonville State University. Her project, Solomon’s House, explores the collections repository of the Anniston Museum of Natural History. It will be on view at the Martine Chaisson Gallery during PhotoNOLA 2012.
“Sarah Cusimano Miles has conveyed us back into the cabinets of curiosities that Rosamond Wolff Purcell first opened so elegantly and deliciously many years ago. For Miles these moments spent among the shelves and drawers of many museums bring us that much closer to the mysteries of nature and the eloquence of the past that continue to surround us all.” – Roy Flukinger, Senior Curator of Photography, Harry Ransom Research Center
Priya Kambli, third place winner of the 2011 Review Prize, is an Associate Professor of Art at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Kambli’s work explores the correlations between generations, cultures and memory. Her project, Color Falls Down, will be on view at the Contemporary Arts Center during PhotoNOLA 2012.
“With the distinctively moving photography of Priya Kambli I always feel that her unique vision of family and memory is — like the finest poetry — capable of transporting me in the blink of an eye from the personal to the universal, and then back home again. A true journey of the heart.” – Roy Flukinger, Senior Curator of Photography, Harry Ransom Research Center
More about Kathleen Robbins
Into the Flatland
In the fall of 2001, I relocated from New Mexico to the Mississippi Delta to live on my family’s farm, Belle Chase. I ate from my great-grandmother’s china, drank form her crystal and slept in her bed. At dusk I rocked on the porch and watched the blackbirds descend on the canebrake planted by my great-grandfather. Living on the farm I existed in a strange continuum. My family’s history and their connection to this place were markedly present in my everyday experience.
I left the family farm in 2003 to take a teaching position at the University of South Carolina. Into the Flatland explores familial obligation and our conflicted relationship with “home.” The photographs in this series were made during regular trips home to visit family over a period of several years. I chose to leave the Mississippi Delta for many of the same reasons anyone ever chooses to leave a rural area. This is land that my family has inhabited for generations, and I am pulled to this place in a way that I am not able to fully articulate. It is not my nostalgia alone that creates this longing; it is that of my mother and my mother’s mother.
In Cotton is a new, ongoing series about rural cotton farmers in the Yazoo Mississippi Delta. During the 2011 growing season, writer Mary Carol Miller and I spent 5 weeks with 10 farm families.
Kathleen Robbins is coordinator of the photography program and affiliate faculty of southern studies at the University of South Carolina. Born in Washington DC and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Robbins received her BA in Studio Art from Millsaps College in 1998 and her MFA from the University of New Mexico in 2001. Her photographs have been exhibited widely in venues such as the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, The Light Factory, Rayko Gallery, the Ping Yao Photography Festival, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Society for Contemporary Photography, and the Mississippi Museum of Art. Publications include Fraction Magazine, Conscientious, Humble Arts New York, and One, One Thousand. Her work is part of the permanent collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the South Carolina State Museum. She currently lives in Columbia, with her husband, Ben, and their son, Asher.
More about Sarah Cusimano Miles
The photographs in the body of work, Solomon’s House, explore the collections repository of the Anniston Museum of Natural History in Anniston, Alabama. The specimens are taken from the dark storage where they reside, on shelves, in bottles, and in drawers, and bathed with light to illuminate the often disturbing and exquisite elegance of the accumulated and warehoused organisms. By portraying these objects through the tradition of the still life, the artist explores ideas of cultural decadence and beauty in stasis. In addition, many of these photographs are comprised of numerous single frames combined to construct high-resolution composite images. This allows for the capture and portrayal of the subject in a manner that goes beyond that which is possible through a single exposure. In this way the image exists as a double construction; once as the objects are assembled to be photographed, and again as the frames are combined to form the final image.
Sarah Cusimano Miles is a native of Gadsden, Alabama where she is an exhibiting artist, photographer, and educator. Her work has been extensively published and exhibited in venues both national and international, from the Alabama Museum of Natural History and the Trois Gallery at Savannah College of Art and Design, to the Borges Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as being in a number of private and corporate collections. She has also received awards from the National Society for Photographic Education, the Center for Fine Art Photography, and the Worldwide Photography Gala. Currently, she teaches at Jacksonville State University where she has contributed to the transition of the traditional film-based photography program to a digital-based curriculum. She has a BFA from Jacksonville State University, and a BS in Psychology and an MFA in Photography from the University of Alabama.
More about Priya Kambli
Color Falls Down
My most vivid childhood memories are of standing beside my sister in front of my father’s Minolta camera- waiting, while he carefully framed and exposed us onto film. My father, an amateur photographer, took the task of making images rather seriously. And we (my father’s family) often found ourselves to be his unwilling subjects. Our reluctance was related to his perfectionism. We, his subjects were constantly herded from one spot to another, posed in one pool of light and then another. As a child I was certain that being photographed by my father was my punishment. Interestingly enough thirty some years later not only do I find myself donning the role of the photographer, but I also find myself back in my old spot –pinned in front of the camera- albeit a little less grudgingly.
The series, Color Falls Down, is rooted in my fascination with my parents- my mother died when I was 15 and my dad soon after and my subsequent move to the United States. My memories of my parents are mythical -I still see them through the eyes of a child- who can’t comprehend that their parents aren’t giants, but merely individuals of ordinary height.
In Color Falls Down, I addressed absence, loss and genealogy through the use of my own family snapshots. These personal artifacts are re-contextualized alongside fragmented images and staged imagery to reveal the correlations between generations, cultures and memory. Although I am viewing these subjects through the lens of my own personal history and cultural journey they are universal and readily explored through the peculiar mechanism of photography.
Priya Kambli was born in India. She moved to the United States at age 18 carrying her entire life in one suitcase that weighed about 20 lbs. She began her artistic career in the States and her work has always been informed by her experience as a migrant. Kambli completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and continued on to receive a Masters degree in Photography from the University of Houston. She is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.
Kambli’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, including El Museo Nacional de la Fotografía de Bogotá, The Houston Center for Photography, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, SF Camerawork and The Silver Eye Center for Photography. She has received numerous grants and awards, including the En Foco New Works Photography Award Fellowship, the Photolucida Book Award and The Houston Center for Photography Photographic Fellowship, and has been an Artist-in-Residence at Light Work and The Center for Photography at Woodstock. Her photographs are featured in both public and private collections including The Museum of Contemporary Photography.