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SOP and portfolio help! Accepted/Prospective grads: Your feedback is much appreciated


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Perhaps some of you can guide me in the effectiveness of my SOP. Am I making too few theoretical references? Is my statement about my work too much? I realize that I need to insert specifics for each school still, but in terms of the topics I am addressing, how does this sit?

Thanks so much!

Through my work, I examine the domestication of humanity and how it with interacts with our searches for authentic purpose and our need for progress. I am interested the dynamic between cultural and personal meaning, and how history and the fabrication of myth, legacy and legend cross-inform one another. I am devoted to exploring the landscape of interconnectivity and accessing my subject in revealing, liminal spaces.

Much of who I am as a photographer centers around documentary work. I find that particular function of lens-based media is one of the most direct mechanisms to explore world situations and catalyze social impact, due to its inextricable link to the real world. Documentary photography has the great potential to reflect subject back on itself, and I’ve found that exploring the pedestrian elements of existence reveals complex social issues. Further, images conceived from real life, woven together in a conceptual framework activates the subconscious through the implementation of familiar objects. Throughout graduate school, I intend to bring documentary bodies of work I have been nursing for years to a new level, and to put motion to my lifelong goals of making images that contribute to cultures in which they originate.

In my practice, I regard a subject and viewer as the same. I work towards immersion within the realms I explore photographically. I believe that the removal of oneself from a situation hinders clarity. Furthermore, the process of photographing the cultures I am part of makes me more present within them. The precarious process of extrapolating life for the sake of art is ridden with opportunities for the artist to misconstrue, misrepresent, marginalize, simplify, glorify or objectify her subject; assembling truths out of chaos by subjectively examining life ignites my passion for the vast, wonderfully disastrous practice of photography. I yearn to delve deeper into the pertinence of the image, how imagery taken from life can truly activate tangible change.

I believe that a socially effective photographic practice does not gestate in a conceptual vacuum, and the white-walled format confines a medium poised for social change to the short reaches of only those who follow the arts. The formal art world segregates from their context the content of images that attempt to address societal issues. Graduate school is an ample opportunity to investigate means of art-making and exhibition that bust through the glass wall that separates art, art subject, and the masses of people generally discounted from this equation, and provides a looking-glass to discover means of creating socially relevant work. Through in-depth artistic explorations at a graduate level, and the interdisciplinary freedom alloted in this program, I wish to transcend the traditional gallery or museum forum for exhibition, to discover current ways of finding a pervasive voice. Whether it be through large-scale site-based image projection, installation, informed street art, active photographic community outreach, a more genuine involvement with my subjects or conscious photojournalism, I am devoted to finding outlets for my work that inject a new pertinence to the lens.

I spent a great deal of my undergraduate career creating sculptural installation work, and am fascinated with the interaction between context and content, how the viewer experiences the work. Integral to my artistic process are conceptual modes of creating. I am eager to delve further into a rigorous theoretical and critical undertaking of the medium to investigate ways of making more complex images, formulating more aware series’, and strategically placing my work within a social, historical and critical context. Part of what makes art bigger than itself is the constant generational and cross-generational dialogue between creators, philosophers, curators, social figures and activists, and I yearn to immerse myself in the camaraderie of this conversation, and becoming part of the motion. I am realizing that the support of other artists found in an environment like graduate school is integral the growth of the authentic voice integral to my professional advancement in this field. I am also enthusiastic about experimenting with lens-based formats that transcend the still image. Graduate school provides the resources and time to investigate these outlets to better inform my process as a documentarian, a photographer and an artist.

My career goals as a photographer span a wide range. In my lifetime, I see myself as a pervasive photojournalist, a socially catalytic artist, a conscious commercial photographer, an effective artistic facilitator, curator, and, eventually, a teacher. It is my hope that graduate school will enable me to find ways in which these pieces come together in a way that affects the greatest amount of positive change, in a way that contributes to my personal fulfillment as an artist.

Also, I am looking for help on the cohesiveness of my portfolios:

My website is www.katelevyphotography.com

You can find the 3 bodies of work I am debating using the Art section--> "Necessary Objects", "Scenes from Utopia" or "Birthplace of Man". "Necessary Objects is a blend of 4 documentary bodies, and contains the most amount of conceptual juxtapositions. it blends documentary and conceptual, while the other two bodies are much more cohesive straight documentary works. ANY help is appreciated. Thanks!!

And as it is much easier to be objective, if you need feedback on your work, hit me up!



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RISD, ICP Bard, SVA, Parsons, RIT, CCA, couple of others. I have actually updated the statement quite a bit.

I can email it if youd like.

looks like a good statement to me, was getting a bit jealous reading it so thats a good sign : )

I was a bit confused as to why you mentioned sculpture though - otherwise gave me lots of things to improve my own statement

i cant quite see the work you mentioned on your site but youve got some very very very strong work there

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hmmmmm 4th and 5th paragraphs are no good, you're not seperating yourself from your work and it sounds like a bit of an anti art rant - you'd end up burning risd down lol

I disagree a little, alot of schools are looking for people who don't work in the "gallery vacuum" but I would check it against their accepted grads and faculty work at each school. I know for a fact that CCA has some crossover with its social practice program and photography. My biggest concern is your use of the word documentary. "Documentary" photography is all about recording truth from an unbiased standpoint. Not only is that an impossible goal, but it sounds like you don't believe in that either.

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a lot of schools are looking for people who don't work in the "gallery vacuum"

I can assure you that RISD isnt one of them.

Yea, I didn't think so. I know I didn't apply there. katelevy, this brings up a good point, why did you choose the schools you are applying to? I don't know them all very well, but I know RISD doesn't really match up with your statement as well as CCA does.

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HI all, I have made some ammendments...getting closer! Am dying to see some of your guys' work! Would give me a nice escape from my own circular mind.

Also, I need an opinion on these "diptychs"--are they straightforward enough---their relationships, etc.

I am crazy about RISD's program (what I know of it), for several reasons. They seem to be committed to establishing sustainable, ethical and responsible artistic practices and value art as a mechanism of communication. They have a strong interdisciplinary foothold that requires dialogue between departments.

they have a program, media + partners that brings organizations and coorporations together with grad students in collaborative research marketing and service projects. Their museum rocks and they have stellar resources.

Here is my new statement.

Much of who I am currently as a photographer centers around a documentary mode of still image making. Documentarian methods offered an unparalleled potential to reflect cultural identity back on itself, where subject becomes viewer. I’ve found that pedestrian situations often reveal complex social issues and shed light on unframed lives of viewers. Conversely, the precarious process of extrapolating life for the sake of art is ridden with opportunities for the artist to misconstrue, misrepresent, marginalize, simplify, glorify or objectify her subject; probing these connotations within a dialogue with my subject ignites my passion for the wonderfully disastrous practice of photography and sparks my interest in possibilities for subjective documentary. I count the democratic eye of Joel Meyerwitz, the handling of light, the poeticism and the subjectivity of Nan Goldin, and the bluntness of Martin Parr among my influences.

I am driven by my power as a lens-based artist to utilize tangible elements of the real world to access the viewer’s subconscious, and am ready to catapult from this background to transcend the still image and experiment with more literal juxtapositions between object and space. Congruently, I am curious about the place of art beyond art world borders. I look to graduate school as a forum to explore socially effective modes of creation and exhibition which incorporate the cultural, architectural and historical contexts in which the work is made and displayed. Through artistic strategies, such as site-based exhibitions, project facilitation, public installation, time-based social experiments, video, space-based performance art, and journalism, I will work within the interstices that connect art and society. Involving myself in a cross-generational conversation between creators, philosophers, curators, social figures, critics, historians and activists, will allow me to place my work within a larger social, historical and critical context. The work of _____ comes to mind. I believe the _____program posseses the range of instructors and artistic influences that will make this conversation lush and dynamic, and will provide an opportunity for camaraderie with my artistic peers that will propel my work beyond itself. In a graduate program, I am interested in dialogue with a diverse, often conflicting, informed community capable of cohabitation, much more than I am in studying under one particular instructor. This is, in part, because I find myself all ready reconciling so many voices in my own practice. The variety of artistic approaches encompassed by ICP Bard institution will offer me an unparalled opportunity to practice reconciling differing opinions, and to connect to a diverse yet unified voice of my own.

My academic experience--part art, part theoretical, part spiritual, has opened me to a conceptual way of working. My professional endeavors have helped me to evolve the technical aspect of my work and has required that I experiment with and develop a workflow, and has offered a glimpse into the business of being an artist. I am ready to develop more adept ways to build narratives that tap into societal consciousness, share my work in a socially effective context, and collaborate with my artistic peers on a functioning level. I come to graduate school at a time in my commercial career when my livelihood, success and evolution depend on developing a greater consistency, authenticity and confidence that will enable me to market myself as a visual communicator who embodies an infallibility in expressing culture-forming ideas, and the vernacular to converse with the complexity of life that cannot be confronted with mere description. I am certain that the _____program will both challenge me and allot the time and stimulation I need to experiment and develop. My career goals span a wide range. In my lifetime, I envision myself as a prolific photojournalist, a socially catalytic interdisciplinary artist, a conscious commercial photographer, and an effective artistic facilitator and curator. Graduate school will enable me to find ways in which these components of my ambition come together in a lifetime that affects the greatest amount of positive worldly change, and in a way that contributes to my personal fulfillment as an artist.

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oh, and I like sva for its diversity of professors, parsons for similar reasons, and because it seems steeped in social context. cca--the social involvement and interdisciplinary component, icp bard because it exposes you to the curatorial process and internships. RIT is a safety school of sorts, and they have sweet facilities i hear. saic, same thing--a bit too conceptual for me, but great facilities. oh, and yale cause its yale and why not. i am spending the most time on sva, cca, parsons, icp bard and risd tho.

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