02.Morning, Murmansk, 2007

As part of Joanna Lehan’s class this semester we took two artist visits where we had the chance to meet and talk with artists in their studios. We met Yola Monakhov Stockton, who actually teaches at ICP, and followed up with her about some outstanding questions. You can check out Yola’s beautiful work here.

1. How did you become a photographer? What is your personal history using the medium? I first took a darkroom photography class in high school, and loved the feeling of walking around with a camera, and of spending time in the darkroom, often during the lunch hour. I wrote and photographed for the university newspaper in college, but did not take studio courses, rather majoring in literature. (I regret not taking undergraduate studio courses.) But I did get a job my senior year as a darkroom printer for a university lab, and completed jobs ranging from printing pictures of specimens photographed through a microscope to printing large glass negatives from the historical society archive, and a lot of other archival material which came to me in the form of internegatives (medium format), after the archival pictures were rephotographed. It was a wonderful introduction to the range of materials and processes, and also to the many uses of the medium. Later, when I started considering leaving my PhD program in Italian literature to pursue photography, I took two classes at the ICP (uptown), one of which was a project class with Lauren Greenfield. After that, I had the basis of a portfolio that got me my first editorial work (for Time Out New York), and I decided to pursue photography instead of Italian literature.

Anti-Taliban fighters from the Eastern Shura force survey a plume of smoke from a round dropped by a B-52 bomber on their enemy lines in the foothills of the Tora Bora mountains, where they are on the front lines of the fight against the remaining Al-Quaeda fores in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan on December 5, 2001. Photo by Yola Monakhov.

Anti-Taliban fighters from the Eastern Shura force survey a plume of smoke from a round dropped by a B-52 bomber on their enemy lines in the foothills of the Tora Bora mountains, where they are on the front lines of the fight against the remaining Al-Quaeda fores in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan on December 5, 2001. 

2. How do you feel like your background as a photojournalist has affected the ways that you work in the studio? What elements of that practice have carried over into the work that you are doing now? I look to my background in photojournalist for its concerns, bodies in peril, places in transition, and for its curiosity about the world. Journalism teaches its practitioners to perform research and become educated about a subject of inquiry, which I continue to think is important, and to pursue access, and see unfolding events in terms of a narrative. It also teaches about mise-en-scene, as filmmaking does, about what must be in a picture in order to clarify a meaning. At the present moment, photojournalism may be more of a metaphor than an actual practice in my work, but this may not always remain the case.

M1250_BR_2013 001

3. Your bodies of work are very strong, but so disparate. For example, your photographs of birds versus your post office project. Is there any specific contemplation that connects these two? The disparity among my projects suggests an attitude toward the role of subject matter in photography. It may not be birds or post offices that are the points of interest, but strategies of investigation, the sense of being trapped, and the conditions of flight and travel. One of Josef Koudelka’s acclaimed books is called Exiles. For a long time he photographed gypsies throughout Europe, perhaps because, among other reasons, he felt like one, or struggled to make sense of how cultures become displaced, but still perpetuate themselves. Now he has photographed the wall in Israel/the West Bank. Again, the exile and banishment theme is at play, but in a new context, and with new materials. My shifts may seem more radical, because the materials change even more than the aspect ratio of a frame, but the trajectory of thought is similar. Perhaps the shift in material approaches is also a way to reflect on the melancholy qualities of the medium. Tonight, I was in the darkroom, and I reloaded an arsenal of pinhole camera boxes with different sizes of film and darkroom paper, and the combination of them felt appropriate, and I also loaded a five-reel tank with ten 120mm rolls, taped back to back in pairs, for later developing. These different ways of working may signal greed, or desperation. I find that replying to this e-mail is also a form of working in photography. Many ways of being involved in process, production and contemplation may make a fragmentation meaningful and generative.
4. How do you feel like motherhood has affected your work? With children, there is less sleep, and more high-pitched emotions all around. And growing up and learning to see and to know and to become moral agents and the care for others and for work and the acute awareness of the passage of time all play into the process. The love of children challenges and, I hope, augments the love of work.  
11.Untitled (Exposed through United States Postal Service) 2013 Unique silver print 11x14

Marisa Sottos ICP-Bard MFA Solo Thesis Exhibition “Exalting the Voice”

Please join Marisa Sottos for the opening of her ICP-Bard MFA these exhibition, Exalting the Voice

Opening reception  Thursday, May 7th, 6-10pm

Performance at 7pm

Gallery Open May 7-10, 2015 | 11-6 PM | Friday through Sunday or by appointment

At her opening for “Exalting the Voice” Marisa Sottos (Nutley, New Jersey) will perform three arias she has selected: Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini, Don Giovanni by Amadeus Mozart and Carmen by George Bizet.

I chose these three songs specifically because they all have a kind of stereotypical portrait of women in opera. Using opera is a new thing in my work, because I feel the same kind of conflicting emotions that I feel with a lot of the other work, in other things that I am addressing.

Niagara Falls Suspended, 2015. Marisa Sottos

Niagara Falls Suspended, 2015. Marisa Sottos

The show is about my conflicting emotions and indecision regarding what is the right or wrong idea to be presented. A lot of people think you have to take a side with things, but I think there is a nice place that you can be by not picking a side. Then you can imagine yourself on either side and make more educated decisions or opinions.

What moves me about art is the sense of being heard. That’s where the songs and the singing and the vocals tie in. I want to give a nice listening experience. I still get super nervous singing in front of the people, but being able to perform for everybody is such a freeing experience.

Romeo & Juliet in a Laundry Room, 2014. Marisa Sottos

Romeo & Juliet in a Laundry Room, 2014. Marisa Sottos

In “Exalting the Voice” Marisa is presenting videos, photographs and photobooks that create a dialogue with one other. Part of my process when I am in between making things, I go to antique stores or antique centers and just look at things. When I am inspired or attracted to an a object, if it is affordable I buy it and I make something with it or I get inspired to make something. That’s how my video ‘Untitled, Love in Every Room’ came to be. 

Untitled, Paramount Pictures, 2015

Untitled, Paramount Pictures, 2015. Marisa Sottos

I get most of my influences from my family members and my living environment. I reference a lot of music and art as well as experiences that I had when I was younger.

Marisa received her BA in Art concentrating in photography from Monmouth University. She has been doing art her entire life, mostly drawing and painting. In high school she picked up a camera for the first time: I used to go to concerts all the time with my friends and take pictures of us.

In college I started to learn about studio lighting. I was influenced by Cindy Sherman and Gregory Crewdson, in the way they use lighting and staging. I never thought about staging things before. And I fell in love with color film, I think mostly because I interned with Jen Davis before I got accepted into the program at ICP-Bard.

Untitled, Joshua Tree Desert, 2015

Untitled, Joshua Tree Desert, 2015. Marisa Sottos

ICP totally changed my life. Before ICP, I set these boundaries for myself to make sure that everything followed strict guidelines. Here at ICP we are encouraged to just be free, and make whatever you want. It  was really a great time for me to just explore and do whatever I wanted.

Coming here was scary but also very good. My classmates and faculty share things that can help you to imagine things differently or think about your work differently. Art has become a way for me to share thoughts but not a necessarily a message. I want people to think about how things are and gain something from it.


Join 2015 ICP-Bard student Joseph Desler Costa at the MFA Studios for the opening of his solo thesis exhibition, Supplemental Materials.

Exhibition Opening
April 30 | Thursday | 6–10 pm ET

Coffee with the Artist
May 1 | Friday | 12–4 pm ET

On View
May 1–3 | Friday–Sunday | 11–7 pm ET

Joseph Desler Costa. "Tall Boy".

The Curiosity Rover Celebrates a Year on Mars by Singing Happy Birthday. To Itself.

The Curiosity Rover is programmed to vibrate its sampling sifter mechanism to create specific tones which move certain kinds of particles away from the dirt so it can analyze them better. On its birthday it used this technology to vibrate to the tune of happy birthday. We can only hope that no one else heard it.

Return from ICE Guadeloupe 2015

In March I was invited by Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator to be one of six artists from the United States to partake in an International Cultural Exchange in Guadeloupe. DVCAI is an arts organization based in Miami-Dade County in Florida. Its mission is to promote, nurture and cultivate the talents of emerging artists form the Caribbean and Latin America Diaspora. The cultural exchange they foster brings together artists, curators, writers, and cultural workers to engage in exhibitions, studio visits, and workshop intensives in the Caribbean. I was invited by Rosie Gordon-Wallace, DVCAI’s executive director and curator, whom I met at a portfolio review hosted by En Foco in 2009. The exchange served as a powerful affirmation; finding commonalities with so many diasporic artists working all around the globe was invigorating.


Zacuanpapalotls installation by Nadia Rea Morales; below light box image by David Gumbs.

DVCAI’s exchange is a collaboration with L’Artocarpe, an artist-driven residency and exhibition space located in Le Moule, Guadeloupe. Its director is Joëlle Ferly a multidisciplinary artist whose goal is to create a space that nurtures international artists to create work. The seven participating artists from L’Artocarpe were Kelly Sinnapah Mary, Francois Piquet, Henri Tauliaut, Annabel G, Florence Poirier-Nkpa, Joëlle Ferly, and David Gumbs. From the US the six artists, aside from myself, were Rosa Naday Garmendia, Francesca LaLanne, Juana Valdes, Nadia Rea Morales, Aisha Tandiwe Bell, and Jaquenette Arnette; supported by Vincent Scatliffe, Continuous Line and photographer Roy Wallace. The first half of the week long residency was dedicated to artist presentations and studio visits to acquaint each other with our work. The rest of the time included exhibition openings, portfolio reviews with local high school students, and discussions culminating in a group exhibition of participating artists.


Photographs by groana melendez; Vagina installation by Kelly Sinnapah Mary

Alternate Currents: New Art from the Diaspora was the group exhibition co-curated by Rosie Gordon-Wallace and Dr. Alix Pierre a professor in the African Diaspora and the World Program at Spelman College who is originally from Guadeloupe. The exhibition was cohesive and a huge success. At the beginning of the exchange there was a lot of eagerness to connect among artists, but it was challenging communicating between French and English speakers, More complex was navigating the differences between American and French-Caribbean culture.

The differences only meant we had to spend more time together talking everything out. The most exciting moments were the “aha!” moments where I saw eye to eye with another artist and we realized we understood each other. The beauty of that experience reminds me of Mrs. Gordon-Wallace’s mission statement. She states, “A diaspora is about the dispersion of a people. Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator looks at the places where our paths cross and intersect, how we sound and who is standing at these points of connection.” In all our activities, workshops, and conversations the moments of magic happened when we noticed that regardless of our upbringing or how far we live from each other, something in the shared history of our dispersion created countless points of intersection.

Mrs. Gordon-Wallace, like a loving mother, advised us individually not to forget to think about ourselves. Take the time to contemplate our own practice. We can get lost in the act of doing, networking, and applying in art making that we forget to take a breath for ourselves. She also spoke of how she creates these opportunities to make us feel special and see the value in ourselves and in our work. The 2015 International Cultural Exchange to Guadeloupe definitely provided this and more to my practice. I cannot wait to continue the dialogue with the new friends I made during my trip, and I especially cannot wait to share their work with my artist community in the United States.


Outside view of L’Artocarpe

To learn more about DVCAI and L’Artocarpe please visit their websites and via facebook at and

What Happened When NASA Pointed The Hubble Telescope at Nothing

NASA celebrated The Hubble telescope’s 25th year this weekend. Many of the most iconic space imagery were created by pointing the Hubble Telescope at known planets, clusters, stars and nebula.
hs-2015-12-a-xlarge_web Great red spot Crab Nebula
However, in 2003 scientists took a risk with their much sought after use of the Hubble eye. In an attempt to see past the known and to see the light from the furthest reaches of our universe, the Hubble was pointed toward a small patch of the night sky within the constellation Ursa Major or the Big Dipper, shown in my photograph below, that had no bright stars to block its view. Essentially they pointed it at the darkest spot in the sky they could find.
The task was relatively simple, what happens when you point one of the worlds most powerful telescope at nothing?
As is the usual with science and curiosity, something amazing happened. The image below is what showed up after the Hubble finished its time pointed at nothing. Almost all you see are not stars, but entire galaxies. Each one their own entity just like our Milky Way with hundreds of thousands of stars some of them thousands of times bigger than our planet, our sun and our galaxy. Each one unique and mysterious and beautiful.
Hubble has continued this theme pointing its lens in other low density bright star areas and have created the Ultra Deep Field, an even grander depiction of the same concept below.UltraDeepField