O'Dell, Cynthia, MFA
Art and Art History
A. Reid Winsey Professor of Art and Art History
MFA (Photography and Media Studies), University of Colorado Boulder; BFA (Photography with Honors), University of Iowa; BA (English Literature), University of Iowa, Additional Study, Arizona State University
I teach courses in lens-based media in a variety of techniques and conceptual strategies. We utilize both the darkroom and digital studio. Students are challenged to develop a personal vision within a critical framework.
I was born in Oregon and grew up in Iowa. I am a photographer, video artist, and author who employs an experimental documentary style to counter traditional modes of representation, particularly in relation to class and gender. I have had a camera in my hand since I was 13 for over thirty years. I attempt to create transformative experiences for the viewer. I routinely push the boundaries of the genre, employing mixed media, text and image, non-narrative video and multi-channel installation. I address loss narratives and try to use the power of a visual language to conceptually subvert inequitable power systems.
Thematically, I explore notions of gender identity; biography and self; and land, memory and place. I work within a cultural and/or historical framework that ties together both personal and global concerns. I often employ the autobiographical format to explore larger issues, such as gender and class. I am interested in dispelling stereotypes and my practice embodies activism -- seeking to enlighten the viewer and incite change or, at the very least, create awareness. Ultimately, through my experimental documentary work I attempt to find beauty in the midst of the human struggle.
Elftmann Faculty Fellowship, DePauw University
London Renaissance Photography Prize, Finalist, London England, 2013
Fisher Fellowship, DePauw University 1999 and 2016
Artist in Residence, Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughn Ireland, 2005
New Directions Initiatives Grant, GLCA/Melon Foundation, Great Lakes Colleges Association
Best experimental documentary, New York International Film and Video Festival, 2003
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