ASU alumnus receives award for photography
Among a myriad of emerging artists, there are few who stick out from the rest and receive the recognition to kick-start their careers.
Sean Deckert, an ASU alumnus who graduated last year, has recently been awarded theContemporary Forum's "Emerging Artist" grant for his work in photography. Granted by The Artists Grants Program, the grant includes a $1,500 cash award as well as an inclusion in an exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum in May 2014.
“I was one of seven artists to receive this award, so it’s a local achievement and an honor,” Deckert said.
The Artists Grants Program promotes the creation of contemporary art by emerging artists living in Arizona and is designed to support artists who would benefit from public recognition and financial support.
“This gives me a lot more flexibility to work on more projects that I am interested in,” Deckert said.
Deckert uses a wide range of techniques in his photography that include elements of nature, architecture, time-lapse and overexposure. Capturing these elements involves complex layering of imagery and holographic aesthetics.
“I would like to think thatmy photography is a relationship between man and natural world, but I don’t want to tell people what to think,” Deckert said. “Though it is political in nature, I want people to think and come up with their own ideas.”
Deckert has worked on a multitude of projects, from international exploits to ASU projects.
Two exhibits of his, "Shifting Sands" and "Transitive Ephemera" were featured at Agripas 12 Gallery in Jerusalem, Israel. Another exhibit, called "Smoke & Mirrors," was featured in collective downtown Phoenix gallery, Eye Lounge. It addressed the concept of Phoenix culture as an "Urban Heat Island through large lenticular prints, sound and other ephemeral elements," according to Deckert's description.
Lecturer of English at ASU's Downtown campus, Rosemarie Dombrowski met Deckert while searching for artwork to be included in the Downtown Phoenix Journal.
“I contacted him, and he already had artwork that I could use, and he was even willing to do more,” Dombrowski said. “His photographs were amazing. They really spoke to the downtown community.”
Because of Deckert’s success with the Downtown Phoenix Journal, Dombrowski asked him to work with her on "Phoenix Poetry Series" in 2012, an annual journal distributed in downtown. She wanted artwork that would be cohesive with the poetry encompassed in the publication.
“I have so much respect for him and so much love for his work,” Dombrowski said.
Deckert read every single poem going into the journal, selected those that spoke to him and took photos that he felt created a meaningful relationship.
“I took a lot of time reading the poems and chose 25 that I felt I could identify with,” Deckert said. “It was a little bit challenging, because I didn’t want to over-interpret the poems or give away the whole story."
Deckert and Dombrowski worked on the project for more than eight months, which was launched at an art gallery in Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix. The show included 25 of his 8-by-10 photographs, along with handwritten copies of the poetry.
“I don’t think that many visual artists would have really been that invested in a poetic anthology project for as long as he was,” Dombrowski said. “His work is probably some of the best photography I’ve ever seen, and I think he deserves all the accolades he’s receiving now.”
Deckert hopes that his photography will turn into a lifelong career.
“This kind of career can be unpredictable, but I know that I will create art for the rest of my life,” Deckert said.
Deckert currently has an exhibit called “Fata Morgana” running at the monOrchid gallery in downtown Phoenix until October 12. The building is open to the public every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and gallery hours are on Fridays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Reach the reporter at Kelcie.Grega@asu.edu