Niagara Falls

Recently, my mother and I decided to visit the places we used to frequent on the American side of Niagara Falls. I wanted to go with the intention of photographing as well as honoring the memory of my maternal grandmother. She had lived in this area for the majority of her life and since her passing in July of 2013, my family visits here have grown infrequent. I find this place both bittersweet and sacred in my memory. 

As we drove, I photographed out the car window, capturing the power lines that follow the thruway and cut through the landscape. When I was a kid, we used to make this drive quite often. I remember always being bored out of my mind, staring out the window following the power lines that tethered here to home.

When we arrived we started walking around Goat Island, following the path around the river. At each opening in the trees, I would approach the water to document the walk.

It was an incredibly hot day so by the time we got to the actual falls, we only stayed a short while. The mist was high and refreshing to walk through. Shooting through it, the buildings were veiled in the distance.

It was great to get back here and look at this place with fresh eyes. I’m grateful for all the times I’ve gotten to see this place in person growing up. It still means the world to me now.

Intern Introduction: Zubair Aziz

Zubair Aziz

Hi everyone, I’m Zubair Aziz, an intern for the Photography and Digital Arts Department this summer. I’m from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I go to the University of Rochester, studying Computer Science and Economics with a cluster in Studio Arts. I’m hoping to start a career as a full-stack web developer after graduation.

On campus, I’m involved in a few organizations such as Grass Roots Soccer, a health organization that leverages the power of soccer to educate and inspire children to live healthier lives, and Alpha Kappa Psi, the professional business fraternity.

In my free time I like to paint and take photos, where nature/wildlife scenes are usually my topic of interest. Aside from that, I’m really into indie alternative or folk music.

This summer, I’m hoping to get a lot of experience working with many different talented artists and improving my photography and design skills. As an upcoming web and app developer, these skills will surely benefit me in one way or another. I can’t wait to meet everyone and engage with the community while I’m here.


Obtaining a Fiscal Sponsor


I always find it a challenge when I’m working on documentaries to take the time to develop my synopsis and treatment. What usually puts a spark behind my film strategy, besides having the passion to explore the issue at hand, is funding. Seeking a fiscal sponsor that will assist you in free fundraising workshops and mentor your project is not an easy find. It takes a great deal of researching organizations to find the right fit. Does their mission statement fit with your own? Does that fiscal sponsor support your type of project?

For this project I will be reaching out to Women Make Movies for support – one of the staff here at Flower City Arts Center suggested them as a fiscal sponsor for my film. I feel strongly that my film “Violated Women” is the right project for Women Make Movies to support not just because I am a woman but because of the content of the film. The film is a catalyst film for healing to educate and inspire other women who may share the same situation of being a rape survivor.

Last week I met with a consultant on the project Dr. Catherine Cerruli a very organized woman well rounded in her commitment to women and justice. Kate introduced me to other mental health professionals and volunteers in the field. I met with over 16 people and they shared their opinions and comments on the subject at hand. They also suggested a few titles for my project after it was pointed out that my current title may scare away my audience due to being too aggressive and unapproachable – they have a point, but my title “Violated Women” does get to the point of why I liked that title to begin with – because it forces the audience to ask themselves, “how was she violated?” This group was also informative on funding opportunities which I found helpful.

I also brought on a new intern to my team, Crystal Knight, a senior in high school who I met here at Flower City Arts Center while I was teaching in the Studio 678 program. I am so excited to have her assisting me in the project! She is a true thinker with great ideas. I’m also happy to share that fellow Flower City Arts Center artist-in-residence Stephanie Mercedes has agreed to come on board to assist me with writing my proposal and funding applications. I am so grateful to know this project is bigger than me.

My goals for this week are to send out my proposal to Women Make Movies in New York City and have my application and proposal ready for two funders.

Next week my team and I plan on interviewing a few survivors of violence which we plan to use in the introduction of my film. I’m also researching statistics of rape in America and globally that I can incorporate in to the end of “Violated Women”.

So Long 2016

As most of us can attest 2016 was filled with many highs and big year-end lows with election results dividing us in many ways. As a Photo Artist-in-Residence at Flower City Arts Center, I am using photography as a tool to help bridge that divide and to unite us. In the Autumn of 2016 I began photo walks with students and members. These walks brought us into neighborhoods in Rochester, NY, and gave us the opportunity to connect with real people instead of a sea of avatars.

Over the next couple weeks, Megan Charland and myself will be building a wall map of the #ROC where participants will be hanging their photos. This exhibit will not only allow our community to view the images, but to use the photographs to create conversation. We are currently planning a reception for the project where participants will share their experience immersing themselves within communities different than their own.

Part of the inspiration behind this project comes from my own experience immersing myself with the different communities in Rochester and my want to find a way to use social media in a positive way. It is easy to get caught up in division social media can create. Taking a break from the screen, hitting the streets to meet and greet people in person is vital to realizing we really are a lot more alike than the differences portrayed on the interweb.

Happy New Year!

AIR Introduction: Stephanie Mercedes

Hello! I would like to introduce myself to everyone at Genesee Center for the Arts as I will be a resident photographer starting this January! I am originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina but currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I am interested in using the law as form, intervening in systems of power and I fundamentally believe photographs are inherently dishonest. I recently showed a piece in Orlando, FL:


I am currently a artist in resident at Lugar de Dudas in Cali, Colombia: where I am working on a project on the peace treaty agreement between the Colombian government and FARC rebels.

Soon I will be making a trip home to Buenos Aires in December to begin my research at El Archivo Nacional de Argentina to prepare for my project during my Genesee Center Residency. The project: “Copyrighting the Light of Day” is based on a pending Argentine copyright bill that was proposed in September of 2015. The bill, No. 2517-D-2015 would extend photographic copyrights from 20 years after publication to life plus 70 years. During the 1970’s in Argentina all photographs taken during the dirty war became public property as their creators were victims of disappearances. The Dirty War was a very dark period in Argentine history. Anyone who spoke out against the dictator at the time was murdered. Intellectuals, photographers, students and artists were some of the first members of society to be killed. It is estimated that during the war’s 10 year span 10,000 to 30,000 Argentine citizens were killed.

If this bill were to pass, all photographs documenting this period which currently exist in the public realm would become privatized by the state. A recent representative from wikipedia informed me “all visual and photographic remnants” during the Argentine during war would be erased. Documentation of correspondence between Kissinger and Gen. Jorge Videla —the dictator of Argentina — was released two months ago. In the correspondence, Gen. Jorge Videla attempts to remember the number of people killed during a five year period. At the end of correspondence, he notes the numbers are unimportant as they “will never see the light of day.”

Once I am in Buenos Aires I will be going through Los Archivos Nacional de Argentina and scanning one image from the archives for every day during the Dirty War. Later, once I am at the Genesee Center I will crop these selected images so that they only present “the light of day.” With the assistance of a Argentine Copyright Lawyer I will then copyright these images, and thereby copyright the light of day during the dirty war. All copyrighted images will be available to the public.

I will be regularly posting my progress in Buenos Aires and I look forward to meeting you all in Rochester!