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Degrees: BFA Art Concentration in Photography | Minor Photography
Over the past 30 years, our nationally recognized program has earned a well-deserved
reputation as one of the most comprehensive photography programs on the West Coast.
Located within the School of Art & Design, the Photography Program at San José State
University is the largest in the California State University system and one of the
largest in the Western United States. Our curriculum engages students in a diverse
range of contemporary practices in the medium, from traditional silver-based photography
and historic, alternative photo processes to innovative and experimental approaches
to digital imaging and video.
In addition to our emphasis in photography as a fine art, our program also offers a strong commercial photography pathway, a feature that makes our undergraduate program unique. Covering a full spectrum of technical, aesthetic, conceptual, and theoretical issues, one of the primary objectives of the Photography program is to enhance the student's ability to conceptualize complex ideas that are expressed visually.Throughout its history, photography has served as a powerful means of self-expression, a catalyst for cultural change and a medium for social commentary and activism. We encourage students to produce thoughtful artwork that deals with the meaningful and urgent issues of our times. We also recognize the increasing interdisciplinary nature of photography, and encourage interested students to explore and integrate related media including installation, film and video, and electronic media
Program Learning Outcomes (PLO)
MFA Art Concentration in Photography
Our Photography Graduate Program supports and encourages a wide range of traditional, conceptual and interdisciplinary approaches to lens related imaging. Philosophically, the program is committed to addressing the breadth of contemporary issues and practices while realistically preparing you for a career in the field. The faculty is composed of artists/photographers with national and international careers whose work ranges from conceptual installation and new genres to traditional and commercial. There is no pervasive aesthetic trend at SJSU; the faculty has been carefully selected to offer a wide range of aesthetic and technical possibilities to the students. Our program welcomes and promotes diverse styles and viewpoints. We encourage students to produce thoughtful artwork that deals with meaningful issues, and our faculty is here to help you refine your direction and create your best work.
During the course of their studies in the program, qualified graduate students may apply for the opportunity to teach at the Teaching Associate level, which provides a generous stipend and tuition waiver. Students are offered considerable freedom between teaching, studio practice, academic classes and outside internships within which to design a program specific to their individual needs.
- Application Instructions and Procedures
- Degree Requirements: MFA Photography
- Academic Summary Form [pdf]
- MFA Summary
Program Learning Outcomes (PLO)
The Photography Program's technical facilities are among the best and largest in the West and include Six Epson printers (4880, 4900, 7880), a Canon large format printer, a large complement of digital support equipment, digital and film based cameras, and four instructional complexes with fifty enlargers, eight commercial lighting studio stations, and facilities for alternative photographic processes. We recognize the future of most photographic practice to be digital, yet we honor and respect the educational value and the potential for self-expression available in traditional darkroom facilities. To that end, we maintain traditional darkrooms and an alternative processes lab, while we continue to upgrade our digital equipment as the technology advances.
Prof. Binh Danh – firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Rhonda Holberton – email@example.com
Area Coordinator - Photography
Duncan Hall 401C | firstname.lastname@example.org
Binh Danh is an Assistant Professor of Art at San José State University’s Photography Program. He received an MFA from Stanford and a BFA from San Jose State University and had emerged as an artist of national importance with work that investigates his Vietnamese heritage and our collective memory of war. Danh produces socially engaged work that often involved community outreach and archival research that deals with mortality, memory, history, landscape, justice, evidence, and spirituality.
He invented the chlorophyll printing process, in which photographic images of the Vietnam War appear embedded in leaves through the action of photosynthesis. Another body of work, “War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials” grows out of an ongoing eight-year collaboration between Binh Danh and poet Robert Schultz. Currently, a traveling exhibition, War Memoranda examines the question “How do Americans remember war?” The artist and poet have used soldiers’ photographic portraits developed onto the flesh of leaves, historical battlefield landscapes photographed using 19th-century technologies and poems about war to provide intimate reflections on the after-effects of war. Danh’s newer body of work focuses on nineteenth-century photographic processes, applying them in an investigation of battlefield landscapes and contemporary memorials. Recent series of daguerreotypes celebrated the United States National Park system during its anniversary year, commemorated a makeshift soldier memorial for the was in Iraq/Afghanistan called the “Crosses of Lafayette,” and documented humankind attempts to make marks in the land through daguerreotypes of Spiral Jetty and petroglyphs in the Southwest.
Duncan Hall 401A | email@example.com
Robin Lasser is a Professor of Art and former Coordinator of the Photography Program at San José State University. Lasser is also the project lead for the Seven Days-Sister City-Artist Exchange. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband Jim Gold and son Alex Lasser-Gold. Lasser produces photographs, video, sound, site-specific installations, and public art, which explore environmental, health, cultural and social issues, especially as they pertain to women. Lasser often works in collaboration with other artists, students, public agencies, and international coalitions to produce art and promote public dialogue. The creative team of Robin Lasser + Adrienne Pao have developed and managed the Dress Tents project since 2004.
Robin Lasser’s recent national and international showings include Exit Art and Parsons School of Design in New York City; Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan; Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles; De Young Museum in San Francisco; Dom Metenkova Museum of Photography in Yekaterinburg, Russia; Recoleta Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Caixa Cultural Center in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Nuit Blanche Festival, Toronto, Canada; Pingyao International Photo Festival in China; and the ZER01 International Biennial in San José, California. Robin Lasser’s Dress Tents and public art were featured in art, fashion, architecture, and pop culture magazines around the world including Happy (Russia 2011), COLOR(International 2011), Vision (China 2011), Top (Brazil 2009), Dazed and Confused (London 2008), Amica(Bulgaria 2007), Marie Claire (Taiwan 2007) CRAFT (United States 2007), Flaunt (International 2006), Playboy (South America 2006), and many others.
Duncan Hall 401C | firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Mendoza is a lens-based installation artist, writer and educator. Her work mines the intersections between history, memory, media, cultural institutions, and language. Using photographs, video, audio, objects, various forms of information, and personal narrative, her work creates a cross-disciplinary dialogue between disparate sources.
Research for her video series, Consumption, took her to Spain, France and Belgium in the early 2000’s. She worked as part of an archeological team focused on Neanderthal belongings and remains in 2002 for her video/installation division. From 2005 to 2006, she worked at the border of the U.S. and Mexico shooting footage for her video/installation Different, naturally. In fall of 2010, she began a new body of work addressing the national housing crisis. As one of 8 artists in residence at Camac Centre D’Art, Marnay Art Centre, France in December, 2010, she began work on her photo-based installation Monument: 91 Images of One Vacant Property for Sale. A preliminary version of her companion installation entitled Our Agentswas completed in 2016. Over summer 2016, she spent four weeks in Portugal during a Caminho português de Santiago, taking over 2000 photographs studying perceptions of land use both similar to, and different from those in the U.S. In fall of 2017 she was one of 5 artists in residence at DE LICEIRAS 18, Porto, Portugal, where she extended her research addressing the issue of housing on an international level. A solo exhibition, O Custo de Vida(The Cost of Living) was featured in November 2018 at Galeria do Sol in Porto, Portugal.
Mendoza’s work has been exhibited in France, Ireland, Mexico, Portugal, and venues throughout the United States. Her practice is based in the San Francisco Bay Area where she is an Associate Professor at San José State University.
Kathleen McDonald is a West Indian multidisciplinary artist who creates installations in the themes of identity, culture, memory, and immigration. McDonald’s work uses aspects of the Caribbean including flora, mythology, and poetry to touch on mother/daughter relationships, question one’s relationship to place and past and reclaim lost histories. McDonald is trained in a variety of textile techniques, photography, printmaking, painting and metal fabrication and casting which are often used in their work.
McDonald received dual BFA degrees in Pictorial Art and Photography, and holds a Master of Fine Arts from San Jose State University. They have worked for non-profit and small art organizations educating and inspiring creativity in youth of varying ages. Since 2014, McDonald has taught at a number of higher education institutions in the Bay Area such as West Valley College, and Academy of Art University, to name a couple. Currently, McDonald is the Photography Facility Coordinator at San Jose State University where they also teach photography courses.
Alana Rios is a photo-based artist using historical and contemporary processes to explore the relationship between landscape images, gender, and power. Her recent exhibition Postpicturesque includes three bodies of work, Superbloom & Cut Flowers, The Calendar Project, and Vista Points: Overview & Time-Lapse.
Her work has been exhibited at Sylvan Gallery, Root Division, Embark Gallery, and Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts. In November 2019, she co-moderated a panel discussion at the SPE West Regional Conference titled, A Feminist View of the Landscape: An Intimate, Political and Emotional Relationship to the Land. She earned a BA in photography and printmaking from Bennington College in VT and an MFA in photography from San José State University. She is currently a lecturer in photography at San José State University and resides in Oakland, CA.
Duncan Hall 401D | email@example.com
Jonathan Fung is an interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, social activist, and educator. Fung teaches photography and art at San Jose State University through a social justice and narrative lens. He began his career shooting fashion editorial in New York, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Fung expanded his art practice from still photography to moving images and collaborated with Nam June Paik (the “Father of Video Art”) for Modulation in Sync at the Guggenheim Museum and Electronic Superhighway at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York City. His lens-based work was on view at the Venice Biennale in the Snow Show exhibition. Fung was a participant at the Doek Festival where his film Een Nauwe Poort (A Narrow Gate) was screened in the canals in the Netherlands onto 17th century ship sails. Fung’s disconcerting video installation, I Eat, Therefore I Am, was exhibited at the San Jose Museum of Art.
For the past 13 years, Fung’s work has been a platform to expose the darkness of human trafficking and spread awareness. His award-winning short film Hark was screened at many film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage. Fung’s public art installation PEEP was invited into the 5×5 Project in Washington DC. A year later Fung was commissioned by the San Jose Art Commission to recreate PEEP in downtown San Jose as part of Super Bowl 50 festivities.
Jonathan Fung served as a Faculty Fellow for the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center that raises awareness for social justice and diversity. He was part of the Trauma Informed Pedagogy, Faculty Learning Community and later received a first aid mental health certification so he could better serve his students.