Exhibitions,News,Photography — Jane Tam @ March 25, 2011 9:46 am

Cat in the Middle, Cheung Chau, 2010, from Asleep at Sea, © Jane Tam

Below is a brief list of what I have coming up and recent publications.

Women in Photography: A Panel Discussion & Slideshow
With amazing speakers: Amy Stein, Cara Phillips, Ellen Carey, Karen Marshall, Jane Tam
B&H Event Space
420 9th Ave
NY, NY 10001
Sunday, March 27, 2011
1 – 4pm

Who are the “foreigners?” : an article written in Chinese magazine, Century Weekly
For those who can read Chinese, writer Bao Kun wrote a great article featuring my “Foreigners In Paradise” series.
Century Weekly Magazine
Volume 439
Published Feb. 28, 2011

Unless You Will: Issue 13
Founder and curator, Heidi Romano included a selection of my work from “Asleep at Sea” for the most current issue. It’s a beautiful magazine, especially since it’s ready to print too!
Featuring photographers: Friederike Brandenburg, Daniel Shei, Eanna Freeney, Jane Tam, and Oksana Yushko


Personal — Jane Tam @ March 23, 2011 10:36 pm

My father’s side of the family at the airport in Hong Kong before immigration

I’ve been watching this blinking cursor, wondering how to begin this post . It’s been just about 8 months since my last blog entry. Here’s the deal about my brief stint in applying to graduate schools.

In the winter of 2009, I decided on a whim, well, maybe more than a whim, to apply to a few grad schools. Requested recommendations, wrote essays, and got my portfolio ready for the applications. I thought this was the boost I needed and was a bit excited with a tinge of questioning. Well, I sent everything in before my trip to Hong Kong in January of 2010.

Spring came and the responses started rolling in. Both rejections and acceptances. Surprised at some, expected from others. Now came the tough part going to interviews and visiting schools. I narrowed it down to two schools, at opposite ends of the US. Stay close to New York City and live in Boston or make the leap to the West and live in San Francisco.

I visited both and met many people who encouraged me to go here or there. It was all really exciting. If I go to Boston, it will be so convenient to go home for shoots, if I do continue my photography on my family. If I moved to San Francisco, I can be challenged with finding new projects to explore, considering the large Chinese population already there. The professors at both schools were so kind and generous with their feedback, I was very much falling in love with the idea of going back to school. While I was genuinely thinking about the concept, some times I felt the whole meet and greet at the schools was very car salesmen-like.

While it all seemed like flowers in bloom, the large investment cost of school wavered over my head. Maybe it’s the way I was brought up, with immigrant parents who never splurged on anything. Maybe I was feeling guilty about going to school for photography and not say, for an MBA. Close friends, family, and professionals gave me their opinions but ultimately the decision was with me. Some say that an MFA is not worth all the money especially with a degree that doesn’t guarantee any more security in life, and actually will be more frightening than anything. Others told me that this was a great opportunity to grow as a professional artist and treat it as a moment where making/thinking/and questioning about art was full time. It could be a 2-year art residency or it could be me constantly wondering if this was a route willing to take, a $100K investment.

The gamble seemed too large. I would love to believe I’m a risk-taker in aspects of my life, but to be honest, anyone who knows me well will know I dot every “i” and cross every “t” before committing to most things. So when faced with such a large decision of going to graduate school or not, the romance of going to school as an artist full time didn’t attract the practical me.

While I sent in my decisions to schools, I did receive some phone calls from several concerned professors, people who I admire and whose work are studied by students everywhere. Money was the problem and lack of funding made the idea of graduate school pretty much impossible for me. I did secure several small grants here and there, but nothing that would actually make that much of a difference. I felt incredibly sorry to say I can’t go to graduate school because of money because it made me sound like I was putting the profession to the grave over something that seems so trivial.

I am still at a crossroads, where graduate school will always be there, it is my decision whether I need it or not to continue my work.

After the whole graduate school stint, I went to the Fotofest Biennial 2010. I never really wrote a recap but I will say I was asked where I graduated from many times, to the point where it was frustrating. Galleries, museums, collectors, and many others did not ask about my BFA degree, rather they were specifically looking for an MFA. I can understand how some may feel that having an MFA on a CV gives a bit of notoriety and secures the idea of that person being “committed” to the profession. However, starting a conversation right from the start with it is a bit tacky and to write an artist off right away from the beginning is rough.

This Was Then

News,Nymphoto — Jane Tam @ June 2, 2010 10:58 pm

Hakka Village, Sha Tin, 2010, from Asleep At Sea, © Jane Tam, currently featured in Fraction Magazine, Issue 15

So it’s been quite a long time since my last update and it was mainly due to the lack of acknowledgment for writing on this blog. The loss in interest basically led to my blog getting hacked yesterday but all is fixed. Despite the tumbleweed atmosphere here, I have to update on some news.

Two years ago I graduated from Syracuse University and was honored to be asked to be part of Nymphoto, a women’s photo collective in New York City. (If you have not noticed from the Nymphoto blog, the members and I have decided to take a break and focus on our own individual endeavors.) The members of the collective were overwhelmingly supportive of my work and I jumped for the opportunity to have the sense of community I was leaving in Syracuse. The Nymphoto Blog was one of our first big tasks since it offered a blogpost every single day, whether it was an exhibition announcement or an interview. Having this involvement, I had the opportunity to interview and showcase female photographers I admired such as Kanako Sasaki, Lisa Robinson, Garie Waltzer, Pixy Liao, Celine Clanet, and lots more. Since we had such a great library, Nymphoto decided to tackle more challenges, with two back-to-back exhibitions as Sasha Wolf Gallery and a self-publish volume of the Conversations series. I can’t express how unbelievably amazing all these opportunities are to a then-23-yr old.

Thank you Nina, Maria, Rona, Candace, Melanie, all our families and extended Nymphoto friends. Being a member of Nymphoto have brought me a noticeably bigger audience, have given me exhibition opportunities, and a great group of friends. It’s been a great run and I think it’s about time we find time for ourselves.

Whatever Was Splendid at the Fotofest 2010 Biennial

Exhibitions,Networking,News,Photography,Travel — Jane Tam @ March 25, 2010 11:36 am

Above are installation shots of my part of the group exhibition in “Whatever Was Splendid” at the Fotofest 2010 Biennial. The gallery space is extremely large and takes over two floors of 1113 Vine Street Studios so there’s quite a number of works by each artist.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a group exhibition amongst such a high caliber of artists. Many people at Fotofest asked how I got to be a part of the exhibition and if I had been to Fotofest two years prior — and the simple answer is that Aaron Schuman (of SeeSaw Magazine) emailed me after seeing my work on Nymphoto and I have never been to Houston, Texas. (Thoughts on age-ism in a later post.) I met a lot of artists who attend these reviews like class reunions. To each his own.

Come opening night, Fotofest organized bus shuttles to galleries where the last destination was the reception/party at Vine Street Studios, where “Whatever Was Splendid,” is installed. I did not see the exhibition prior to that night but was so pleasantly surprised at the wonderful space and the amount of work each artist exhibited. There was so much work, it took me awhile to find where my photographs were. I even asked a staff member due to the massive crowds coming in and the maze-like space. (PS. I’m upstairs!)

During the night I received lots of great feedback from the local Houstonians as well as gallery/museum/curator folks, which really made me feel like I should give myself a good pat on the back. Asians flocked to me and felt at home with my images of the kitchen as well. It was an amazing experience! Later on the evening, the mayor made an appearance so it was glitz and glamor with body guards and cameras all hustling to the VIP tent where curators and artists were briefly introduced. There I met a bunch of photographers who I mainly know of online such as Will Steacy, Brian Ulrich, Hank Willis Thomas, Todd Hido — but also met other great people like Richard Mosse, Greg Stimac, and more. (Tema, you were missed!)

The trip was a completely new experience and overall, it was successful.

I can’t thank Aaron and Fotofest for the opportunity and all the support!

In the next few posts, I’ll write about the artists I met, thoughts on age-ism, and possibly some huge changes in my life.

Press news:

Aaron, Richard, and I were also interviewed by the Houston Public Radio early one morning. I was a bundle of nerves so coherence wasn’t on the plate but it’s great that I made it on the radio, right? Thank you Meghan Hendley for the opportunity.

Houston Public Radio, listen here.

The exhibition was also featured in The Telegraph last week.

Fotofest exhibitions is also featured in CultureMap.

Review of the exhibition as a whole from the Houston Press.

All artists in the main Fotofest exhibitions are published in the biennial catalog, which is a hefty 507 pages! It is beautifully printed and includes an introduction by Charlotte Cotton and an accompanying exhibition essay by Aaron. You can order a copy here.

Also, James Pomerantz of announced I was the winner of his film giveaway. Thanks again, James!

Fotofest Biennial 2010

Exhibitions,Photography — Jane Tam @ March 11, 2010 11:22 am

I’m heading to Houston for a long weekend to immerse myself in the lots and lots of photography at Fotofest Biennial 2010. I’ll be tweeting and posting photos on my tumblr account during the few days. I’m not doing any reviews but will explore Houston and the photography festival.

If you’re heading there, please feel free to go to the opening party:

Whatever Was Splendid: New American Photographs
FotoFest at Vine Street Studios
1113 Vine Street, Houston, Texas
Curated by: Aaron Schuman, photographer, writer, lecturer, curator. Founder and editor of SeeSaw Magazine

Aaron Schuman explores the legacy and continued influence of a “thoroughly modern photographic figure,” Walker Evans. “The striking similarities between Evans’s time and our own have become all too clear,” says Mr. Schuman. “Bearing this in mind, I began to investigate his profound influence on how the United States is still responded to, regarded, recognized and represented within photography today.”

The artists in the exhibition are: Will Steacy, Michael Schmelling, Greg Stimac, Tema Stauffer, Jason Lazarus, Jane Tam, Richard Mosse, Craig Mammano, Todd Hido, Hank Willis Thomas, and RJ Shaughnessy.

Nymphoto’s Art for Haiti Auction

Buy Art,News,Nymphoto,Photography,Print Sales — Jane Tam @ February 19, 2010 4:44 pm

Artist: Emily Shur
Title: Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, California
Date: 2004
Size: 20×24 in.
Medium: Digital C-Print
Edition: 5/15
Signed Verso

The Nymphoto Collective is proud to announce its online auction and print sale to benefit the relief effort in Haiti.

The Art for Haiti auction will be coordinated by eBay Giving Works and 100% of the proceeds will go to Partners in Health. The auction & print sale will take place February 27 through March 9, 2010.

Partners in Health is a recognized non-profit organization that, over the course of 20 years, has established 12 medical non-profit facilities in Haiti. Partners in Health is committed to continue to work with the people of Haiti for better health care.

It has been only a month since the earthquake in Haiti, but the press is already beginning to slow down its coverage, which is why the Nymphoto Collective has organized this online auction. The Haitian people have a very long road ahead to recovery. The artists participating in this fundraiser want to show their solidarity and let the Haitian people know that they will continue to support them in the months and years ahead. Some of the participating artists have family and friends in Haiti, and some have built relationships with the Haitian people and culture through photography.

Work by (in alphabetical order by last name) Keliy Anderson-Staley, Nina Büsing Corvallo, Jeff Cate, Rona Chang, Cameron Goodyear, Candace Gottschalk, Laura Heyman, Geoffrey Hutchinson, Hee Jin Kang, Michelle Kloehn, Yijun Liao, Minette Lee Managhas, Tiana Markova-Gold, Stephen Meierding, Maria Passarotti, Suzanne Révy, Jon Shireman, Emily Shur, Brea Souders, Tema Stauffer, Julianna Swaney, Jane Tam, Hidemi Takagi and Jennifer Williams.

This eclectic group of artists has shown in museums and galleries around the world. The fundraiser offers an opportunity for collectors to acquire artwork and contribute to an important cause.

Click here to start bidding on artwork.

where do i fit in

Personal — Jane Tam @ February 18, 2010 12:06 am

Recently I was asked where do I fit in the contemporary art world and how do I contribute to it. These questions threw me off my chair immediately and I was scratching my head nonstop as I tried to think of answers. I don’t even remember what I said anymore and I might have spewed out some verbal garbage about using my photography as a way to discuss issues pertaining to Asian American ethnography and family politics. Add in a lot of “um(s)” and “uhh(s)” into the mix and I probably said something super water-downed.

This is the difference between getting a BFA versus a MFA. During the four years as an undergrad, all you are focused on is making work, experimenting, succeeding, failing, and by the fourth year, you’ll be lucky to realize what you want to do for the future. Professors guide you through trials and tribulations about experimenting and do not expect you to think about where you fit into contemporary art history. Hell, who are you to even think you can make it into a history book? You just need to work and be selfish. Just think and do your work. Figure out how you contribute to art later.

After a few years of sending jpgs and prints over and over again to competitions and contests, it hit me early on that photography is not all about me, it’s also about the person viewing the work. How do I match up with others? What am I lacking? But I’ve struggled and still struggle to find out how to my work fits into photography history. Sometimes it’s easy to ride the Chinese art wave but this is so one-dimensional and I hate it.

Like a confused teenager going through puberty, it’s always been about how and where do I fit in. When am I obviously Chinese, when am I uniquely American, female, young, old, smart, naive, successful, not up to par, etc. When I enter contests or competitions and have other Asian American work against mine, are we too similar? Is there only space for one? Talk about insecurities, huh?

I have a long way to go and doubt always cross my mind. My competitive nature keeps me grounded and I hope these questions of fitting in don’t stop. I believe the day I figure it out is the day I stop questioning. I’m sure I have other open-ended, head-scratching questions ahead of me in the near future so I should keep this post in mind and not stumble into the pitfalls of verbal garbage.

larry sultan

Photography — Jane Tam @ December 14, 2009 12:00 pm

Conversation through Kitchen Window, from Pictures from Home, 1992, © Larry Sultan

Conversation through Kitchen Window, from Pictures from Home, 1992, © Larry Sultan

Rest in Peace, Larry Sultan. Your influence on photography is tremendous.

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