Strada ’10 honored for photography

"Josephine," an image by award-winning photographer Alexandra Strada '10.

Titled “Josephine,” the photograph above appears on a website announcing Alexandra Strada ’10 as winner of the 2011 InFocus Photography Award.

Brooklyn resident Strada has shown her work in group exhibitions at the National Museum of Iceland and the Gerald Peters Galleries in New York City and Santa Fe, N.M. At that last location, in a 2011 exhibit whose 29 artists also included Nan Goldin, Andy Warhol and other large names, “Josephine” was called the show’s most intriguing image by a reviewer for a statewide arts magazine.

Part of a series shot over three years at Clover Manor, an Auburn nursing home, “Josephine” (the subject’s family name remains confidential to protect her privacy) was also among Strada images in the 2010 Senior Exhibition at Bates.

Alex Strada '10, photographed by Jolie Ruben.

“I photographed the objects that residents brought with them to what’s potentially the last room they’ll ever live in,” says Strada, whose day job is as associate photo editor for Time Out New York. “I was so surprised by what I found, and so excited by these little details that see only so many eyes.”

As a photographer, Strada is drawn to the out-of-the-way and unfamiliar. (It’s a tendency that extends to her choice of medium — she shoots on film.) With the still image, “you can contemplate for so long something that’s simple and small, and that holds so much weight. In everyday life, it’s really hard to do that,” she says.

“Photography is such an important tool for slowing down and looking around, and thinking about our existence.”

The Senior Exhibition culminates the senior thesis process for art and visual culture majors in the studio art track (Strada undertook both the studio and art history tracks), and she calls the thesis “one of the most important experiences that I’ve ever had.”

Student artists spend their last year at Bates building a cohesive body of work for the exhibition, much as they would as professional artists. Faculty advisers Pamela Johnson and Robert Feintuch, says Strada, “made my body of work flourish and develop over the year.”

But she also credits Elke Morris, who teaches photography, with crucial encouragement early in her Bates career. “She gave me an exhibition in Chase Hall Gallery,” Strada says. “To get that kind of recognition at that time boosted my confidence so much. At first I wasn’t going to be an art major, but her instruction and her support really made me want to pursue it.”

The InFocus Award was established in 2008 by Ontario resident Michelle Collins to support emerging photographers. “I’ve always appreciated art,” says Collins, “and I think it’s important to invest in what you love. It’s especially important to invest in young people.”

The award includes $1,000 (U.S.), which Strada will put toward a new medium-format Mimiya camera.

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