Diversity and minority perspectives are themes of a conference this weekend in Fairbanks. About 90 photographers from the Northwestern states will visit Alaska for demonstrations, workshops and some events that are free and open to the public. The Society for Photographic Education Northwest Chapter’s event is called In Our Own Voices: Culture/Identity.
Standing over the tray of chemicals in the darkroom at University of Alaska Fairbanks, Jason Lazarus is preparing for a special techniques workshop. He is the conference chair for the Culture / Identity event.
“The history of photography is very mono-dimensional, traditionally being told by white males,” he said. “And those voices, although distinct, don’t show how other cultures see the same story.”
He says minority representation is not only important in front of the lens, but behind it as well.
“It is incredibly difficult, especially when I was making a History of Photography course, to find enough voices that were different,” he said. “I wanted to do that for this conference, by bringing different voices to the table.”
Lazarus had that in mind when he programmed the keynote speakers. On Friday, Brian Adams, known internationally for his portraits of Alaskans in place, will speak at Schaible Auditorium at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Lorenzo Triburgo will talk about his work with LGBTQ issues. He is known for his series of heroic portraits of trans community members and working on a piece about Stonewall.
“When you are exposed to stories you can relate to, you are able to make that creative process your own,” Lazarus said. “That strengthens you, that emboldens your approach to art.”
While showing Alaskans new ideas they rarely have access to, the conference was also designed to provide visitors with an Alaskan experience.
“It allows them to connect with Nature, also the indigenous cultures of the region in a place that many people coming up for this conference haven’t ever been,” Lazarus said.
The conference offers more than 40 sessions by artists, educators and imagemakers over three days. Both keynote addresses are open to the public.
Click here to view session details and to register for the conference.