Faculty Profile: Meet April Friges, Assistant Professor of Photography
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
April Friges joined the School of Communication in the fall of 2013 as an assistant professor of photography at Point Park University.
What types of projects can students expect to work on in your classes?
Projects range from writing and research to semester-long art projects. I emphasize interdisciplinary practices. My students are not only working with the two-dimensional picture, but thinking outside the classic notions of what photography means today in the art world versus the commercial world. Along with their photographic practice, some students have begun working with sculpture, sound, performance, drawing and video — all with an emphasis on installation. I expect a lot from my students. Not only are they to create art, but they need to be able to understand the historical canons and contemporary trends that revolve around photography; relate it and apply it to their practice.
What have been some of your favorite experiences at Point Park?
My students — they are extremely talented, engaging and invested in helping their peers work through ideas. I bring a lot of energy to the classroom, and the reciprocation is admirable. We've attended our very own student's solo art show, sat in on lectures by literary and photographic giants and visited various working artists' studios. Being able to share these gems with people who are just as excited as I am is by far the best!
What classes do you teach?
- Digital Printing Methodologies
- Experimental Black and White Photography
- View Camera Techniques
- Senior Thesis I and II
- Color Photography
- Digital Editing
- Contemporary Issues in Photography
What makes Point Park's programs unique?
The range of courses we offer is spectacular. The photography and photojournalism programs are ambitious and diverse. Most programs only have one photo history course, we have two (along with your standard art history). While institutions are headed towards full digital, it is our darkrooms that separate us from the rest. We not only have traditional black and white, but also a traditional color darkroom. We offer courses in alternative photographic processes, large format, experimental, etc. The reason for this is not to turn our backs to digital, but to offer alternative modes to image creation. We offer just as many courses in digital printing, editing and studio.
How do you bring your professional experience into the classes you teach?
I am an exhibition artist who emphasizes research in my practice. I am highly interdisciplinary (I don’t consider myself a photographer, but rather an artist who engages with various photographic, video, installation and performance techniques). My practice in the studio and working with curators in galleries is highly translatable in my classroom. My courses include in-depth conversations on graduate school, grant writing, residency programs, effective portfolios, contemporary hanging methods in the gallery, library research, thesis research, and curriculum vitae and resume formatting for artists.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Be an activist. Whatever your passion is, it should run deep. A degree in photography requires an immense amount of discipline, concentration and time: time to create, mess up, fix your mess ups, and time given to your peers in reviewing work and thinking outside of your own personal experiences.
Anything else you would like to add?
Both the photography and photojournalism programs have their own photography club that take trips to conferences (National Press Photographers Association and Society for Photographic Education). This spring, we're traveling to New York City to check out gallery and museum exhibitions. We'll also visit with alumnus Jace Lumley, who is currently working for GQ Magazine.