AIR Introduction: Megan Magee Sullivan

Hello, I’m happy to introduce myself as the new Risograph Artist-in-Residence in Photography & Digital Arts at Flower City Arts Center. For the next 6 weeks I will be experimenting with the Risograph duplicator. As a producer of visual books, I’m excited to see how the Risograph will expand my ability to execute projects that involve images and text.

Photo by Jeremy Moule

As an interdisciplinary artist who creates books and experimental video, I appreciate how the two relate as time-based media. I utilize elements of personal and collective history, erasure poetry, and materials gathered from various public and private archives to examine the constructs of religion, family, and memory.

I’m looking forward to using the Risograph to execute a book project over the next several weeks. I will keep you up to date on my progress through the blog and my instagram @maggiemagees.

Kallitype Trial and Error

Greetings and Happy Monday to everyone!

I have been managing to get into the Darkroom to work on my kallitypes about once a week (I work a full time job out in Victor and am away on weekends a lot sailing during the summer months), and slowly I am troubleshooting my errors and building up my skills. For this post, I thought I would share a glimpse behind-the-scenes into my efforts and progress.

Over the past few Tuesday nights I have made a total of 18 prints; most of them are new images, though one or two are images I have printed before but am now printing with new negatives, thanks to the help of Jon Merritt.

One of the things this process requires, if you intend to  use digital images to make large plastic negatives for printing (which I am), is skill with Photoshop so you can create enough contrast and tonal range to make an interesting image with the kallitype process. I would say I am between a beginner and an intermediate Photoshop user, so I have been consulting with Jon, who teaches the Kallitype class at the Photo Dept, for assistance with some of my trickier images.

Here is an example of an image I printed earlier this year:

Kallitype where snow detail is good but bark and debris detail are too dark

In order to get the snow-drift detail, I had to make a longer exposure, but that resulted in the details of the bark and debris becoming too dark. So, we had to isolate areas of the image and adjust the curves for each separately. The new negative results in a better, more balanced image:

Kallitype of the same image after more editing in Photoshop to produce a better negative

Another challenge I am having is that the humidity in the room and the paper I am using are resulting in lots of streaky-ness in my prints. I am using watercolor paper I have used before with a beautiful result, and ‘think’ my coating technique is the same as before….but obviously there is some room for improvement here! Here are a couple prints that really show the challenges I am having with coating smoothly:

This one shows areas where I completely missed coating

And another:

And this one shows more brush strokes / streaks

I am looking forward to getting back in the Darkroom again soon and to hopefully resolving some of my issues, and I will share more of my progress as I go!

I have also set up a new instagram account for my residency. Check it out: kallitypegirl

Where to Begin?

When beginning to look at something as dynamic as identity, it can be challenging to know where to begin.


Who am I?

What am I? 

Why am I?


These sort of questions have always been of interest to me. I’ve studied Buddhism to  Vedic Theology, Philosophy, Christianity, History, Society and Psychology, Critical Feminist Theory, Human Sexuality, Neuropathology.

I’m a seeker and a life-long learner.


Ultimately, I think I am interested in answers of harmony, expression, creativity, connection, personal accountability, wisdom, justice, and mystery.


For me, the use of the Archetype acts as a container for capturing an ongoing evolution into multidimensional awareness of being and becoming. I seek to encounter a wholeness of self/ Self-understanding.  


I like this concept of self because it has two layers. You are a ‘self’ with a small ‘s’: this is your ego, your personality, your human identity. Then, without fail you are also a Self with a capital ‘S’: an exalted, pure and ever-connected Self that is Source or Consciousness seeking awareness of itself through your individual process. This concept of self as an individual and collective polarity seeking harmony through recognition is foundational to the works of C.G. Jung, Kashmir Shaivism, Yoga, and countless other teachings.


In Short: I am a self seeking Self.


This is both an internal as well as an external experience. And these facets influence one another constantly. We are porous to our surroundings and our surroundings porous to us.


The body of work and teachings that will develop during this residency will focus directly on this personal relationship with my self/Self-development as I nurture it with awareness.


I want to take a moment to discuss the significance of the term Archetype as well, as it is a foundational concept that will be guiding much of my creative research.


There once were two Western Psychoanalyst, their names were Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung. In the beginning, these men were cohorts, collaborating on the emerging field of Psychology and Psychoanalysis or the study of human mind and emotion. Their paths ultimately diverged at the topic of what Jung termed “The Collective Unconscious.” Freud dismissed the work of dreams, symbols and automatic writings as junk or excess of the conscious mind. Carl, on the other hand, sought deeper understanding. He studied mysticism, eastern philosophy, cultural mythology and kept a brilliant journal of his own dreams and symbols. The general understanding of the Archetype as we know it today comes from C.G. Jung’s preliminary work in this field.


An Archetype is a recurring expression of human virtue found in cultural mythology and literature. An Archetype is a quintessence of a particular set of character traits which are inherently subject to flaw and scrutiny.


What’s important about Archetypes is they can shape our understanding of ourselves without our conscious knowledge or consent and/or they can serve as a map for personal growth and self-knowledge. Idealized Archetypes might cause us to fragment ourselves into specific categories of social acceptability without questioning the validity or reality of the Ideal.


For example, a contemporary Archetype dichotomy is the virgin/whore. The virgin is sort of like the girl next door type: pious, virtuous, loyal and good wife material. The whore is a woman who enjoys sex for the sake of pleasure, dresses sensually, maybe uses lewd language. Up until recently it goes without saying which of these categories is idealized in a patriarchy and such idealism gives rise to slut shaming, victim blaming and rape culture. Women that dress and act a certain way are in some way asking for violence.


As a woman, this sort of cultural mythology has played itself out in my personal choices about how to act, dress and behave to remain safe, even if simply in terms of social harassment and exploitation. This has also affected the way I have categorized other people and their worth and how or whether I interact with them.


The influence of a cultural Archetype thus has far-reaching effects on the habits and emotions of human society.

Some Archetypes I will be engaging are collected from Traditional Jungian Psychology, Goddess Mythology, and Current Cultural Milieu. The Queen, the Mother, the Lover, the Old Woman, The Creator, The Destroyer, Drag, Mother Earth, the Witch, the Martyr, the Wolf Woman, the Shamaness, The Spiritual White Woman and the Cyborg.
If you’re interested in learning more or if you want to add to the conversation consider attending one of my courses at Flower City Arts. The first one, Superheroes, Archetypes and Idols, starts next Thursday, July 12 and runs for 6 weeks. We’ll talk further about reclaiming feminine archetypes and femininity through Archetype work and self-portraiture.

**Pictured: She Blooms in the Desert, 2016  a collaborative piece addressing symbols, connection, and ritual in everyday objects. The Art of Ritual.

AIR Introduction: Megan Joy May

Let me just start off by saying how much I truly love Rochester so far. The first night in town (after a harrowing 4-day drive across the United States in my 2002 Camry with all my possessions stuffed inside) I was greeted by the most beautiful site, lightning bugs!!! I know, I know, a common sight in this part of the world, but coming from Southern California I am more accustomed to the sight and sound of coyotes, crickets, and tumbleweeds. I was touched by the little glowing bugs as I enjoyed a perfect burger and summer pilsner at The Owl House.

The people, food, beer, music and natural surroundings of Rochester New York have me feeling very excited about my decision to move across the country.

I am writing this first post from inside the exposed brick walls of the Flower City Arts Center’s Photographic Library on the second floor of the building. There is a coffee pot used solely for heating water for film development in the winter, and shelves of dusty books with titles like “Celebrating the Negative” and “The Photography Cookbook.”

There is the sweet, musty smell of paper sewn together for decades all around me.


But why am I here? Why, besides good beer and lightning bugs would I move to Rochester from Sunny California?!? Great question. (I always love a great question).

I am fortunate to have received a position as the new Photography Artist in Residence here at the Center!

For the next 10 months, I will be developing a body of work based on a personal and cultural inquiry of the dynamics of female and feminine identity. My current project uses mythology, archetypes, and the gender binary to expose a multi-dimensional understanding of gender performance and personal mythology relevant to the exploding culture of identity politics and gender outliers.

I am interested in complicating currently accepted perceptions of femaleness and femininity for the sake of nuance and socio-cultural progress, and ultimately looking at the question: What is the New Feminine Archetype Beyond the Patriarchy?

My project is a reclamation of parts lost and a reimagining of a whole self.

Interested in knowing more or have something to add to the conversation???

Then please join me for Superheroes, Archetypes, and Idols: Reimagining Feminine Roles Models Through Self-Portraiture Thursdays 6:30-8:30 pm from July 12th- August 16th.

We will be exploring and discussing these topics together, while working on the creation of personal feminine archetypes, giving vision to something powerful inside you. Our work together will culminate in a self-portrait of you adorned as your avatar.

Looking forward to meeting more of the Rochester Community and discovering where this wild and honest idea will take me over the course of the residency!

Actual Image of AIR Megan May Dropping Knowledge from an interdimensional portal

See you soon Flower City Arts Center!

I can’t believe it, my summer as Artist-in-Residence at the Flower City Arts Center went by so fast! The past few months were filled with so many challenges and productive activities. While my work is primarily shot using black and white film, I haven’t had the chance to print images within the darkroom in almost seven years. For me, working in the darkroom is like riding a bike – something that feels natural even after many years without practice. It was truly a delight to be able to reconnect and use the darkroom this summer.


I also got the chance to teach a FCAC 4×5 photography class. What a challenge! A big thank you to all my wonderful students this summer. It was a great learning experience and I had a lot of fun carrying around the 4×5 camera on our field trips. The photos have been looking great, and I can’t wait to see more of the images that were shot during the class. One of my favorite things about photography is the way it connects me to people. Besides the 4×5 class, I also got to connect with youth migrant farmers at a SUNY Brockport photography workshop. While this was a short-term workshop, I am hoping to work on a larger project with this group, since the students have so many amazing stories to tell. 


Out of all my projects however, I mostly enjoyed starting my new body of work It’s called the American Flag. While I had some initial ideas for this project, I didn’t expect that it would grow to center around my everyday landscape in Rochester. I was continually surprised by how many different ideologies could be found living together on the same block. As I began to photograph, my objective for the project grew to raising awareness on a local level and hopefully encouraging people to connect with their neighbors no matter what their beliefs. I can’t wait to come back next year in order to continue this project.

I will really miss the FCAC along with all the wonderful people that I was able to connect with here. Thank you all for your continued support. See you soon!

Citlali Fabian

It is called the American Flag

My work has focused to explore the different ideas about identity, what defines it… and how it is molded. These questions came back to my mind when I started to live in the US.  How people identify themselves as “Americans”. I’ve found it surprising how many people feel like they are from everywhere in the globe, less from the USA, but that doesn’t stop them from feeling less patriotic…

The project “It is called the American Flag” was arising to reflect about this idea of “be american”, to show the relevance of a symbol in our everyday environment and maybe with images show different ideas around them. I need to say, to me it is impressive how many flags are outside homes or public spaces, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the first foreign person who has noticed. When I asked about it, the first answer from my friends was something like it is common to see them outside conservative houses, but that doesn’t apply for everyone.

Definitely the creative process of each artist is different between them. To me working and continuing to post about an ongoing project is difficult because it is not complete. I need to organize my thoughts and clarify my ideas, about what I’m trying to communicate, to express… to show. Also how I want to do it, which are the best media, which are the best ways to work on it. In short I need to create a visual and mental map.

At the end I decided the best way to approach this subject would be through instant photos because they represent to me a unique piece of visual culture, but the snapshot themselves could be seen as common and valueless. I started by taking instant photos of every flag around me, starting with the ones around the places where I had been living since I arrived in Rochester, creating a set of maps…  To me these maps represents the nets that I’ve been creating around, showing them as a net that connects different areas and different periods of my life here.

AIR Introduction: Citlali Fabián

Hello everyone! I’m so glad to introduce myself to the Flower City Arts Center community. My name is Citlali Fabian and I will be a Photography Resident starting next week! I’m originally from Oaxaca, Mexico but I came to Rochester two years ago to participate in the program of Photographic Preservation and Collections Management at the George Eastman Museum. Since then I have been learning and evolving my way of producing images. One of the most interesting changes that happened to myself was to discover how I started to appreciate my own culture in different ways. Being emerged in another culture let me see how ordinary things can be extraordinary, and it also strengthened my sense to belong somewhere else.

So as an artist I have been exploring different perspectives to understand and photograph the concept of identity and belonging. In my work Mestiza, I photographed woman in Mexico looking for their understanding around our condition as “half blood”, exploring connections between cultural statements and personal beliefs, resulting in a deeper visualization of their own image.

I think in the world we are living in now, we can be at risk when embracing our own identities, as part of any kind of ethnic, religious, social or sexual orientation group. In certain ways, our society encourages division instead of unity: boundaries, walls, classification are all part of it. Being different is turned into something negative and symbols representing unity have become ambivalent. As a foreigner these are crucial elements to understanding the re-composition of identity. With this in mind, I’m developing the project American Flag. I will be sharing with you the development of this work, including my experiences and motivation around it. I hope to have the chance to connect with you and share ideas.



Help Support Our AIR Program

Megan Charland - Instagram @megancharland

If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll already know I participated in the George Eastman Museum’s Photo Finish 5K last weekend with my co-worker Amanda Chestnut. This annual fundraising event has raised over $100,000 so far this year to support various organizations and causes in our community. Here at Genesee Center we are raising funds to help support our Artist-in-Residency program. So far we have raised $610 out of our $1,500 goal. Donations are accepted through November 1st so please consider donating and helping us support these amazing artists!

Arleen Thaler

This year I am excited to have our very first Photography AIR – Arleen Thaler – join us for a 12 month residency. Arleen will be posting regularly to this blog giving us all an insight in to her photography practice.

Also, I already have our 2nd Photography AIR lined up! I’m thrilled to have Stephanie Mercedes join us this January for a 3-month residency. 2017 is going to be a busy exciting year here in the Photography program.

Interested in supporting our Artists-in-Residence? Donate >>