Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly attributed the article to Emily Jureller. The photographers featured were in fact chosen by the heads of the photo departments at their respective schools. Jureller, who is a VICE intern, assisted VICE photo editor Liz Renstrom in choosing which images from the chosen artists to include. Jureller did not make the decision to include herself. The artist statements were provided by the students. Everyone on Twitter please calm down.
Every year in mid-May, tons of prospective photo newbies matriculate from institutions all around the world. Before they have to deal with all the terrifying uncertainty that comes with entering this ever-evolving field, they put out their final thesis projects. These works are then pursued by gallerists, editors, and parents alike who assess whether four years of bad bathroom nudes were able to transform into thoughtful photo projects. We wanted to share some of these projects, so we reached out to the photo departments of several New York institutions and asked who they thought were the most promising students in their current classes. Below is a curated sample of some of our favorites for your viewing pleasure. - Elizabeth Renstrom, Vice Photo Editor
Rebecca Arthur lives in Manhattan and will receive a BFA in photography and imaging from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She grew up in a small town outside of Syracuse, New York, with her mother, stepfather, and two siblings. She uses her work to explore womanhood and as a means for social and cultural criticism. Her photography evokes the beauty and discomfort of empathy, strength, and power. Her current show at the Gordon Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, New York, showcases intimate images and memories of her family after her mother passed away in 2014. It concludes on June 3.
Phoebe Snyder, who will receive her BFA in fine-art photography from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in May 2017, primarily takes portraits both of herself and those close to her. Her latest body of work, a personal view of her own relationship, focuses on the performative and dependent nature of young love. Over three years, she successfully captured the course of her own partnership—beginning with love, then heartbreak, and finally growth.
Joan Wyeth will receive a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute in May 2017. Wyeth's images confront the idea of dissociation, pulling inspiration from her own dissociative episode and the experience of losing of control that came with it. In her current body of work, she questions how mutated perceptions are created and how far from reality they can stray.
Jherry Ramirez will receive a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute in May 2017. When he was six years old, Ramirez traveled with his parents through Latin America, arriving in the US in pursuit of the American dream. As a first-generation immigrant, his photos explore memory, displacement, and the idea of home. His images, primarily setup scenes and found landscapes in New York and South America, recreate his lived experiences in his native country, Peru, and his journey across the border.
Emily Jureller will receive a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute in May 2018. Working in both collage and photography, Jureller is compelled to shoot strangers whose actions mimic the feelings and situations of her personal memories. Using idiosyncratic imagery, she confronts her past and present self and explores how the passing of time potentially changes human nature.
Sam Lichtenstein, on track to receive their BFA in photography at Parsons School of Design in 2018, uses light to capture intimate and unique moments that resonate with viewers. Their current body of work, "Locker Room Talk," explores the human body as a backdrop, instead of as the main focus. They asked women to anonymously send in things men have said that made them feel uncomfortable, then tattooed the quotes onto fruit. The destruction and harm that a needle does to the flesh of fruit becomes a metaphor for the emotional bruising that words can create.
Andy Egelhoff will receive his BFA in photography from Parsons School of Design and a BA in culture and media studies from Eugene Lang College in May 2017. As a DJ working under the stage name SPRKLBB, Egelhoff offers a firsthand perspective of underground dance culture in his work. Using documentary, portraiture, landscape, and architecture to study the aesthetics and sensibilities of various dance communities, he photographs DIY spaces, venues that have suffered tragedy, and afterparties—as well as the artists who use these spaces as creative outlets. Egelhoff will be showing his work in the Parsons senior exhibition next month at Milk Gallery.
California photographer Mika Orotea will receive her BFA in photography from Parsons School of Design in May 2017. Orotea investigates her internalized delusions of love and lust, emphasizing a woman's subjectivity and compulsive desires. Her photos present vignettes of staged, ambiguous sexual narratives that contain themes of ritualistic acts and erotic practices. Inspired by the art and literature of the Surrealists, she uses images to present the seductive arousal of the cruel. Viewers are encouraged to pursue their own forbidden impulses through these voyeuristic scenes.
Anthony Urrea is a Colombian American photographer who will receive his BFA from SVA in May of 2017. He actively questions the idea of identity and legitimacy through portraits that he feels are extensions of his interiority. With a tender eye, Urrea carefully captures moments that organically unravel in his life and relationships, inviting the viewer to reconsider how different bodies are seen. The inclination to explore the visual and psychic complexity of non-normative identities stems from his experience as a young, queer Latino.
Urrea's work has recently been featured in Matte and at the Fondo Malerba exhibition at the International Photo Project 2017 in Milan. He was paired with artist Laurel Nakadate for SVA photo department's mentor show.