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STLCC-Forest Park Photography Student in National ExhibitS

July 26, 2013

A series of crisp portrait photographs of students in traditional uniform attire has opened doors for Sarah-Marie Land, earning her awards and gallery showings.

Sarah-Marie Land web  
Sarah-Marie Land

Land, an adjunct instructor in French at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park, takes photography and art classes in her spare time. She was the top winner in the 2012-2013 Student Art Competition sponsored by the League for Innovation in the Community College – first-place overall award for her piece titled “Elliot.”

She also was among the 21 new and emerging artist winners in the online publication Lens Culture’s first annual Student Photography Awards. All of her photographs from the School Portraits Series were selected out of hundreds of photographs from 43 countries.

Selections from her School Portrait Series could be seen this summer at the Lillstreet Gallery in Chicago, Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Ore., and the Philadelphia Photography Art Center, all juried exhibitions.

In St. Louis, she will be featured in the St. Louis Artists Guild’s Ann Metzger Memorial National All Media Exhibition.

The Lillstreet exhibit, called “Midwest Contemporary,” selected 25 new works out of 900 submissions, and Land’s “Elliot” not only made the cut, but was the featured photograph on the gallery’s poster.

The Newspace showing is part of their annual juried exhibition in July, and the Philadelphia center is currently hosting its fourth annual Contemporary Photography Competition from June 13 through Aug. 24.

 “I am ecstatic, and happy to be representing Forest Park, and getting the word out about how good our photo department is. Jamie Kreher is a great instructor,” Land said.

What initially caught Land’s eye was that St. Louis had so many parochial schools. “St. Louis is a very Catholic city, and the traditional school uniforms tell us about people. I am fascinated with it, and wanted to explore it,” she said.

Land took photographs of 14 students, ranging in age from 5 to 16, for the School Portrait Series. “My environmental portraits, of young individuals dressed in school uniforms, seek to create a complex body of work and provoke questions concerning identity, education, and class system,” she said.

“An overwhelming similarity exists within the physicality of the individuals, the colors and structure of the uniforms, and the sterile environments. They are so similar, yet distinctive,” she stated.

Through her series, “I create images questioning my personal ideas of education, family, and community,” she said. “I believe the act of photographing to be the act of exploring, engaging, and gaining awareness.”

She was encouraged by her photography instructor Jamie Kreher to enter the national competition, which featured more than 95 entries submitted by students from the league’s 19 board colleges.

“Sarah-Marie is a truly skilled artist making contemporary art using photography.  She investigates important notions of construction in portraiture.  Her work makes us more conscious of the conventions of image-making and highlights our role as viewers in constructing the meaning of photographic symbols,” Kreher said.  “She is a joy to have in class and the students learn a lot from her work as well.”

This summer, Land is working in London and Paris as a co-photography guide for the National Geographic Student Expedition Tours.

Land, originally from the Joplin area, received her master’s degree in French from St. Louis University and a bachelor’s degree in French and international political studies from Drury University. She said her affinity for fine arts propels her to keep learning.

For more information about the artist’s works, visit www.sarahmarieland.com.

The League for Innovation in the Community College, founded in 1968, is a nonprofit educational group of more than 800 institutions from 11 different countries and is the only major international organization specifically committed to improving community colleges through innovation, experimentation and institutional transformation. St. Louis Community College is a founding member of the league and is one of 19 institutions whose CEOs comprise the League Board of Directors. The league sponsors annual student competitions for literary works, art and technology innovation.