Alec Soth: ‘Quintessentially American’

January 1, 1970 - to
Alec Soth: ‘Quintessentially American’

Alec Soth, "Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, New Orleans", 2002, c-print, 16 x 20", loaned by the artist.

On Thursday, February 25, acclaimed documentary photographer Alec Soth will present a gallery talk in Plains Art Museum’s Landfield Atrium. Several of Soth’s prints are included in the Individual to Icon: Portraits of the Famous and Almost Famous from Folk Art to Facebook exhibition on display at the Museum through August 15. His appearance is being sponsored in part by the Minnesota State University-Moorhead Department of Art and Design.

Alec Soth, "Lenny, Minneapolis, Minnesota," 2002, c-print, loaned by the artist.

Soth is a native of Chanhassen, Minn., who received a burst of attention following his inclusion in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, an exhibition of young and lesser-known artists at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Also in 2004, he released the series Sleeping by the Mississippi, a project that began with travels up and down the Mississippi River over the course of a few years and ended with a set of portraits that are “elastic, unbound by a rigid conceptual framework, and … quintessentially American in spirit”:

Soth says he is natually attracted to people and places that embody a quiet sensibility. This is reflected in his choice of an 8×10 view camera – each exposure is made on an 8×10 inch negative – to capture his subjects and settings. The slow process involved with using this camera lends itself to the stillness and poetic quietude of his pictures, enhancing the reflective quality of his subjects. This particular camera work requires complicit subjects, making evident the sense of trust that Soth establishes with his subjects. – (From Apsara DiQuinzio’s essay for the 2004 Whitney Biennial Exhibition catalogue. View the rest here.)

Soth’s work, like all good photography, challenges the viewer to consider our social environment as a place that isn’t as clean around the edges as we imagine. In fact, the world through the lens of Alec Soth becomes a place where all of us, at one time or another, are one of these people – believable, but with the twinge of fantasy we all glimpse from time to time.

Click around below to learn more about the photography of Alec Soth. Here’s a link to his gallery talk event on Facebook.

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The New Plainsart.org

January 1, 1970 - to
The New Plainsart.org

Welcome to the Plains Art Museum Blog and the brand-new plainsart.org!

If you’re a frequent visitor to our website, you’ve no doubt noticed a complete overhaul of our web presence, and with good reason. Our last website, while being perfectly functional, was a bit difficult to navigate given the large amount of information we, as a museum, needed to pass along to our audience. Our new website features the now-popular drop downs in the header, plus some groovy tools lurking down below in the footer. There are some new things, like direct links to our social media outposts,  as well as the necessary stuff, like information on our current and upcoming exhibitions and educational opportunities.

Plains Art Museum is proud to have an improved web presence to fulfill our mission of bringing people and art together. What better way than by giving you a glimpse into our permanent collection, offering you the opportunity to sign up for art experiences directly online, or presenting a blog to grant you better access into the daily goings-on of the Museum? We’ve worked hard to get this site off the ground (big thanks to Jesse and Caley for their many talents) and we’re glad to have it up, functioning and ready to serve our audience.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me, Kris, at kkerzman@plainsart.org.

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Portrait Project

January 1, 1970 - to
Portrait Project

photo Britta Trygstad, Milestones Photography

We would love to see your face—and a lot of other faces, too. And, one of them may become famous … or almost.

We invite you to join us in the Plains Art Museum Portrait Project, inspired by the exhibition Individual to Icon: Portraits of the Famous and Almost Famous from Folk Art to Facebook. The project is two-fold. First, a juried portrait contest—open to any visual artist—will determine a winning portrait to be featured as an auction item at the 14th Annual Spring Gala (see details below). The winning artist will also receive a free ticket to the Gala and the portrait will be used as the profile photo on the Plains Art Museum Facebook page … to be seen by the world!

Second, the project features an online “portrait wall” using the website Flickr. Do you have a funny face? Show it! A serious one? Show that too. How about your coworkers or your group of friends? Get ‘em on there! It’s easy: Set up a free Flickr account, join our group, then upload portraits of yourself and others. The goal? Compile a whole lotta faces. That’s it. If you’d like, you can stick around and discuss our Individual to Icon exhibition.

Get involved, have some fun, and help us celebrate the art of portraiture. Call Kris at 701.232.3821 ext. 121 or email kkerzman@plainsart.org with any questions.

Contest Details

Visual artists can submit up to five portraits in any medium for the contest. Please send a medium resolution image that would be suitable for the web. If selected, we’ll ask you to send us either the original piece or a high-resolution image that we can print ourselves. The winning portrait (selected by jury) will be auctioned off at this year’s Spring Gala and the image will be used as our Facebook profile picture for the month leading up to the Gala. Submissions are due by 4 pm on March 26, 2010 and can be emailed to kkerzman@plainsart.org or sent attention to Kris Kerzman Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave N, Fargo, ND, 58102. Please include your name, the title of the piece, size, media and email/phone contact. For details about the contest, please call Kris Kerzman at 701.232.3821 ext. 121 or email kkerzman@plainsart.org.

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