The FotoFocus Biennial, a monthlong exploration of photography and lens-based art, is in full swing.
Some FotoFocus shows close at the end of month, but others run until the beginning of 2017. Because FotoFocus only occurs in Cincinnati once every two years, now is the time to inhale local and international works that you can't see anywhere else.
With more than 60 exhibitions pegged to this year's edition in various museums and art galleries throughout Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Dayton, Columbus and Yellow Springs, choosing which shows to attend might seem overwhelming. Here’s a list of some of the more aesthetically pleasing exhibits, as well as shows encompassing photographers whose striking works command immediate attention.
"Jackie Nickerson: August," National Underground Railroad Museum: Nickerson aims to capture images of African farm laborers working their terrain. Instead of typical portraiture, she has one of her subjects, Ruth, cover her face with a harvested sack of potatoes. In other images, long fronds from a palm tree obfuscate the laborer's face. “Ruth” exemplifies the hardship the laborers endure and produces a thoughtful presentation of life on the farm. 50 E. Freedom Way, Downtown. Through Jan. 23. 513-333-7500.
"Shifting Coordinates," 21c Museum Hotel: Several artists’ works are on display at the hotel through Jan. 2, including New Jersey native Mickalene Thomas’ "Portrait of Qusuquzah," an ongoing subject in her work. Qusuquzah bares cleavage and avoids staring into the camera, unfurling a provocative image. Thomas stages photos with black women (sometimes in the buff) against bold backdrops of clashing colors, and she also uses acrylic and rhinestones to embolden her subjects in paint form. To contrast "Qusuquzah," Katrín Elvardóttir’s "Vanished Summer 14," from 2013, reveals a stationary red-striped trailer in the middle of a heavy snowstorm. The theme of globalism runs rampant throughout the works, making the viewer stop and stare. 609 Walnut St., Downtown. Through Jan. 2. 513-578-6600.
"Surface," BLDG: Danish photographer Søren Solkær is known for his conspicuous photos of Björk and the White Stripes, but he traded musicians as his subject for street artists with his "Surface" exhibit. Solkær spent three years traversing the streets of Los Angeles, Australia, Miami, Berlin and other destinations to photograph these taggers with their works, such as Faile, Los Angeles-via-Australia couple Dabs and Myla and British collective The London Police, who have painted numerous murals around Covington, including the new one on the wall of the Boone Block. With "Dabs Myla," Solkær shows the artists’ face, whereas with other works the artists prefer to wear masks to create an interplay with identity. 30 W. Pike St., Covington. Through Nov. 11. 859-491-4228.
"Ravaged Sublime: Landscape Photography in the 21st Century," The Dayton Art Institute: Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky and Ireland native Richard Mosse showcase their landscape spectacles at the Dayton Art Institute. Burtynsky’s "Nickel Tailings No. 30" reveals warped topography from above. Akin to Burtynsky, Mosse also dabbles in large-format landscapes, and he believes, “If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.” "Remain in the Light" features a mountaintop infused with fuchsia. In his "Infra" series, Mosse photographed earnest Congolese national army members and added a splash of the pinkish hue. He will be present at the Art Institute for an artist talk 6:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 27. 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton. Through Jan. 8, 937-223-4278.
"#SelfieMonster," Frameshop: Smartphones have allowed us to create a monster — of ourselves. The OTR shop Frameshop, in conjunction with FoRealism Tribe, wants us to expel selfie culture. “Our mission is to reduce the creation of selfies and bring awareness to the negative effects of taking selfies,” they say on the FotoFocus website. Trapped in a Plexiglas display, the Selfie Monster feeds off your selfie, which will go into the display. Once purged, selfie users must pledge to never take a selfie again or risk perpetuating the beast. 1317 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. Through Oct. 28. 513-275-9916.
"A Quarter of a Million Miles," Miller Gallery: Christy Lee Rogers’ “A Quarter of A Million Miles” was one of the early birds to FotoFocus, having opened on Sept. 15 at Miller Gallery. Her watercolor-esque underwater photos appear almost 3-D in person. The gallery will host a closing reception on Oct. 22. 2715 Erie Ave., Hyde Park. Through Oct. 22. 513-871-4420.
"A Photographic Survey of the American Yard," Northern Kentucky University: Joshua White found inspiration in an unlikely place: his yard. Using his iPhone, he snapped 750 images of the flora and fauna that inhabit his property, including moths, leaves and spiders. The close-up images demonstrate how intricately composed these creatures are, and how the simplest things — like a backyard ecosystem — can be fascinating. About 200 of his images will be on display at NKU. NKU Fine Arts Center, Nunn Drive, Highland Heights. Through Oct. 22. 859-572-5148.
"City Heights," Prairie Gallery: The little-known Covington public housing community of City Heights is a microcosm, yet it’s not so different from the rest of the region. High schoolers who live in the community documented the people and sights they encounter every day, such as children playing at the playground. With their cameras, the high schoolers evinced how life isn’t always filled with penury; in fact, it’s rather hopeful. Community members helped pick the 50 photographs, which will debut during the opening reception 6-9 p.m. Oct. 14. A panel discussion will follow at 7 p.m. 4035 Hamilton Ave., Northside. Oct. 14-Nov. 5. 513-582-9833.
“Sheida Soleimani: Medium of Exchange,” 1305 Gallery: The Iranian-American photographer, who received her bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Cincinnati, has showcased her mixed-media photographs in Cincinnati and Europe. She sources published images, cobbles them together with real objects and creates semi-political collages, making statements about Eastern versus Western culture, and technology, on a large scale. The closing reception will be held 1-5 p.m. Oct. 23. 1305 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. Through Oct. 23.
“Connie Sullivan: Ripples Through Time,” HudsonJones: Sullivan electrifies her work in “Ripples,” a series in which she explores the idea of illumination in constructing neon lights that symbolize the universe. After forming the colorful objects, she photographs and prints them on archival 3-D. Sullivan’s work is on view at the newly opened HudsonJones gallery, owned by Angela Jones and her husband, Michael Solway, gallerist Carl Solway’s son. 1110 Alfred St., Camp Washington. Through Nov. 18. 513-823-8001.