Fine Art Photography Daily

Annu Palakunnathu Matthew: SPE Future Focus Project Support Grant Winner

SPE (Society of Photographic Educators) recently announced Annu Palakunnathu Matthew as the recipient of the inaugural SPE Future Focus Project Support Grant for her project From Immigrant to Native: Imaging the New American. Annu has a long history of creating photographs and videos based on identity, place, family, and memory.  Her award winning work–short videos that reflect the passage of time–are compelling.  You can find more on her website.

Annu’s $5,000 SPE professional award recognizes one professional member’s exceptional creative photographic work and directly supports the creative and professional development of a new project or completion of an existing project created in traditional still photography, digital video/film, multimedia, installation, or created for web-based platforms. The results of the funded project will be presented at the 2015 national conference in New Orleans. Funding for this grant is made possible in part by SPE’s Future Focus Campaign, representing donations and support from members and friends.

Erika Gentry, Chair of SPE’s Awards and Recognition Committee, wrote of her proposal, “Matthew’s work stood out for its conceptual strength and innovative presentation, which animates photographs from historical family albums with present day re-enactments to explore generational transitions. New work funded by this grant will be used to photograph multiple generations of immigrants across America representing the new immigrant population in the US. Through digital technology old and new images flow into one another, revealing the blurring spectrum of the generations moving from immigrant to native.”

Annu’s recent exhibitions include Sepia International, New York City, the RISD Museum, Newark Art Museum, 2009 Guangzhou Biennial of Photography, China, Tang Museum and the Smithsonian Institute Museum of National History. Among the list of grants recently supporting Annu‘s work include a 2012 Fulbright fellowship, the John Gutmann fellowship, MacColl Johnson fellowship, Rhode Island State Council of the Arts fellowship and the American Institute of Indian Studies Creative Arts fellowship. She was recently an artist in residence at the Yaddo Colony and the MacDowell Colony. Her work can be found in the collection of the George Eastman House, Fogg Museum at Harvard, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Center for Creative Photography and the RISD Museum among others.


image from Spacial Memories

Annu’s work is included in the book BLINK from Phaidon, that according to the publisher celebrates the quality and vision of today’s 100 most exciting international contemporary photographers and Self-Portraits and  Home Truths: Motherhood, Photography and Loss by Susan Bright and The Digital Eye by Sylvia Wolf.


image from Memories of India

Annu Palakunnathu Matthew is Professor of Art (Photography) and Director of the Center for the Humanities at the University of Rhode Island and is represented by SepiaEYE, New York City & Tasveer Gallery, India.


Old family photographs remind us of our past and where we have come from and the silent stories that these photographs insinuate. When flipping through a family album, we become more cognizant of the histories and memories of our own and other families. My work builds on the presumed veracity of photographs to spur a critical reflection on the power of photography and it’s effect on the perception of memory, family and the warping of cultures over time.

The old images reignite memories and, like a time machine, take us back to a different time. Using digital technology, I reorient the viewer’s connection to time as I collapse the presumed progression of its borders, so the past and present appear here in the same virtual space.

The final ephemeral animation is built from archival images and recent photographs of three or more generations of women. The digital technology and animation makes it appear that the old and new images magically flow one into another. This malleable flowing object leaves the viewer to wonder where the past and present overlap and warp. Here, history is distorted, evoking a new dimension of memories, which is uniquely digital.

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