The winners for the 2015 Viewfinder were announced at the artist reception May 16. Juror Steven Ochs chose the following photographs to receive awards:

Best of Show: Kennel Up by Pam Hays
First Place: Misty Path by Adam Owens
Second Place: Macro: Shapes & Colors by DeLeath Ludwig
Third Place: Maple Seeds by Suzanne Barnes
Honorable Mention: Masks by Kelly Campbell

Juror’s Statement for the Viewfinder 2015 Photographer Competition

 Whenever I am asked to judge a show, the first questions that come to mind are where do the artists come from, who will see the exhibit, and what purpose will my decisions serve the artists and their viewers?

Many times it is the commonalities between the subject matter, media, or even social issues that sets the direction for the juror. In this situation, it was the wonderful diversity that posed the challenge.

How objective can we be when we look into the laughing faces of our children or remember the ones we loved at a special time and place? When you are in awe of the beauty of nature or humbled by magnificent architecture, it is very difficult for most viewers to see the structure of the “big picture”.

It was this eclectic gathering that summoned me to ask the question: When comparing faces to places or apples to oranges, what do all the best ones have in common?

For me, a great photograph has to be more than subject, more than technique, more than aesthetics. Not only should we see the elements and principles of design dancing together, it should also tell a story, stir up ideas and emotions, and evoke curiosities for the viewer. The “big picture” even includes the craftsmanship of its presentation. The images that are successful on many levels are the ones with the most flavor.

I was surprised and delighted to see the nostalgia of Mr. Galusha’s tintypes. In contrast, the technical evolution of today’s cameras is quite phenomenal, and yet pales in comparison to the human eye and the software that drives it. Each photo contains only a fraction of time taken out of life and from a very limited one point of view. When that split second contains the exact elements, it can capture the inner spirit of the subject and encapsulate the entire experience. Based on the diversity of subject matter, I decided it would be fair to break the show down into the following categories: Nature, Architecture, Macro, Portraiture, and Human Story.

Some of my favorites included: the portraits of Michelle Webb, Spinal Path by Eli Rahaim, Wheeled Phantom by Jenn Purinton, Be Still by Sierra Spears, and Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Lauren Richey.

I invite all of you to visit and revisit this impressive exhibition. The pieces in this show become alive and more complete when you engage yourselves as the audience. I guarantee that everyone will find something to love and something to challenge you. When you discuss this with others, you will discover many things about them and yourself. As William Saroyan once wrote: “It is our nature to look and see. We thrive in this luxury, this never-ending feast.”

It was truly an honor to serve as your juror for the Viewfinder 2015 Photography Competition. This exhibit is a celebration of the artistic talent of our region.

Steven Ochs, Professor of Art, Southern Arkansas University