Fine Art Photography Daily

2019 Lenscratch Student Prize: Honorable Mention: Chance DeVille

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©Chance DeVille

It is with great excitement that we honor Chance DeVille, Rhode Island School of Design, MFA Candidate – 2021, with an Honorable Mention in the 2019 Lenscratch Student Awards. Thank you to our jurors Aline Smithson, Brennan Booker, Daniel George, Julia Bennett, Drew Nikonowicz, Sarah Stankey and Shawn Bush.

Photographing family is a slippery slope and Chance DeVille’s project, David’s Foot, deftly reveals his stance as an unflinching participant observer of a mother with paranoid schizophrenia. She is at the same time defiant and participatory in relationship to the camera, drawing us into her world of confusion and addiction. Chance approaches this work with the knowledge that photographs have psychological power and that the roles of both the photographer and the subject create not only new ways of seeing once another, but take on different power dynamics.

Chance DeVille is a photographer from Louisiana currently residing in Providence, Rhode Island. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Photography from McNeese State University in 2017. His work currently investigates themes of family, home, and mental illness associated within these structures. Chance has exhibited widely across the United States and was named one of the VSA Emerging Young Artists in 2018 which includes participation in a 2-year traveling exhibition currently touring the states. He is in the process of earning his MFA in Photography at Rhode Island School of Design.

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David’s Footprint

Due to a physically and mentally abusive relationship, my mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Neglecting psychiatric help, she turned to drugs and alcohol to suppress the disease. As a result of these changes in behavior and lifestyle, our relationship and power dynamic as mother and son changed drastically. “David’s Footprint” is an investigation of my Mother and I’s dynamic and how photographing her enhances or damages our relationship. In some instances, I allow her to take a self-portrait or direct the photograph, rearranging roles and power dynamics again. Furthermore, I’m documenting how schizophrenia and addiction have become a catalyst for my mother’s sporadic behavior.

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©Chance DeVille

Congratulations on your Lenscratch Student Prize! What’s next for you? What are you thinking about and working on?

Thank you! While pursuing my MFA at RISD, I am working on a project on historical gay cruising areas and reclaiming those landscapes as a gay man. I do this through self-portraiture as well as documenting the landscape. In addition to those photographs, I also scan used condoms found in these areas and create large scale prints that transform the prophylactic into a body. In these topics I’m thinking of the canon of LGBTQ+ art and photographs as well as the differences in pornographic and erotic imagery.

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©Chance DeVille

Tell us about your growing up and what brought you to photography….

As the work that was chosen shows, I had a rough upbringing. In spite of this, I was always an energetic and observant child looking for a creative outlet. This never changed as I got older and I was constantly searching for something to put my energy towards. I found photography through college when I first took it as an elective and then decided to pursue it fully. It’s proven to be the perfect medium for me because of the topics that I’m interested in and the medium’s short history tied to family and memory. The energetic side of me enjoys photography as I can constantly be moving and exploring while I’m creating work.

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©Chance DeVille

We are always considering what the next generation of photographers are thinking about in terms of their careers after graduation. Tell us what the photo world looks like from your perspective. What you need in terms of support from the photo world? How do you plan to make your mark? Have you discovered any new and innovative ways to present yourself as an artist?

In terms of my career after graduation, I hope to be a professor to help guide the next generation of artists and teach others about a subject that I’m passionate about. I want to maintain a sustainable practice while doing this and continue to grow in my own work and self. The photo world has always proven to have extremely friendly people and supportive artists all around. The work that I’ve seen in the last few years is also stunning and there are powerful photographers making their claim in the contemporary art world, not just the photography bubble. It’s also exciting to see a resurgence of film after the digital age.

I would like to see more financial help available to emerging photographers/students to help progress their career, especially in a gallery setting. This is nothing new, but still a problem for us as up and coming artists.

Making your mark is always difficult but being genuine and creating work that is important and engaging to a target audience is an honest way to establish yourself and your work as an artist. Not being afraid of rejection and applying/sharing your work in as many ways as possible are foundational tasks in progressing in the photo world. I’ve found social media to be a great way to present my work and connect with photographers all over the world where I wouldn’t normally be able to show my work or speak with others. Especially being from a small town in Louisiana, social media has given me a great platform to connect with others who share similar interests in photography and a way for me to keep up with what’s happening in the contemporary scene.

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