Tabitha And Justine, FotoFocus Cincinnati
Second Century Symposium Keynote Speakers Tabitha Soren and Justine Kurland

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Photographing the American Dream

Posted on October 4, 2017

Our America has become more complicated as of late. Beyond the baseball fields, big college dreams, and idealized bootstrap philosophy that captures our attention, is a socio-economic ecology that is more honest than aspirational. When we talk about capturing America, we must include both sides of the American dream: the utopia of success and the frustration of everyday life.

Photography has a unique way of allowing us to hold onto a moment in time. By sharing those images and exploring the perspective of both the subject and the photographer, we can better understand what it means to be an American. We’ll be closing our October 7th symposium with a Keynote Conversation between Tabitha Soren and Justine Kurland, two artists with an eye for revealing this honest American experience.

Meet the Keynote Speakers
Tabitha Soren is an artist based in San Francisco with a background in television. Tabitha was the face of MTV’s Choose or Lose campaign and interviewed famous politicians and celebrities. She later transitioned to a dynamic career as an artist and photographer. Her show Running captured dramatic movement in everyday settings that explored ideas of arrival and escape against the backdrop of the instinct of survival. Tabitha’s focus on 21 baseball players and their experiences is featured in the book Fantasy Life; her work explores the role of accident in life and the central American fallacy of needing extraordinary success to lead a meaningful existence.

Justine Kurland, an artist based in New York, is known for her nomadic artistic process and Pre-Raphaelite compositions that mix Edenic landscapes with nude or naturally dressed women and girls. Her work also often features her son Caspar as they navigate a pilgrimage-like road trip in her Chevy Astro minivan from New Work to the Pacific Northwest. Her show Community, Skyblue highlights utopian communes against the backdrop of an idealized wilderness. Justine’s work first appeared in the group show “Another Girl, Another Planet” and her early work explored adolescent female identity in an active way that evoked Huckleberry Finn and other male wilderness adventures.

Shooting America
The Keynote Conversation will take place at 5:00pm on October 7 at Memorial Hall. Speakers Tabitha Soren and Justine Kurland will discuss their means and methods of representing American life, from the heroic efforts (and failures) of baseball stardom to the shambling lives of the dispossessed who struggle to conjure a glimmering dream, and just to get by.

You can also find the complete schedule for the Second Century: Photography, Feminism, Politics symposium at