Photo by Jacob Drabik

The Lens

The Lens is the FotoFocus editorial platform, highlighting our programming and featuring in-depth conversations on photography and the moving image drawn from perspectives and insights in our community, throughout our region, and around the globe.

Ming Smith

Posted on March 12, 2024

This solo exhibition of Columbus-raised, New York-based artist Ming Smith, features her first photographic series alongside a new body of work. The exhibition illuminates Smith’s introspective perspective that focuses on spirituality, movement, and feminism. The centerpiece is a multimedia commission that animates a series of photographs, integrating film and dance, while marking an entirely new direction in her practice. Also on view are recent collages and color photographs—all set within an ambient soundscape by her son, Mingus Murray—that continue her interest in Black transcendence. In an adjacent gallery is an installation of Smith’s Africa series, which premieres nearly 30 black-and-white photographs taken... Continue reading Ming Smith

Artist Run: The Continuing Legacy of Cincinnati’s Artist-Run Spaces

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Cincinnati has long been an incubator for experimental, outsider, and DIY arts activities. Some would argue that it’s because Ohio is a flyover state—or perhaps it’s due to a lack of robust institutional support for local artists, or simply because of a lack of a strong collector and commercial gallery system—that artists here are more willing to step outside of the conventional white-walled box to create unique art experiences. Whatever the reason, Cincinnati has a history of artist-run spaces in spades. There is a joy, freedom, and willingness to “make it work” that is found largely in artist-run spaces. Artists identify... Continue reading Artist Run: The Continuing Legacy of Cincinnati’s Artist-Run Spaces

Humphrey Gets His Flowers

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Members of the performance collective Mute-N-Heard, organized by artist Michael Coppage in 2005, traveled the world and while painted green, walked silently through the streets as characters personifying their struggles: be it insecurities, racism, sexism, beauty standards, and/or mental health uses. The performance series sought to unburden members of the external pressures they had internalized. Humphrey Gets His Flowers is a combination of archival video, large-scale projection, mixed media collages, and photography. Returning to the tribe of mutes—Xelfer, Savage Gurl and Humphrey Humpkick—Michael Coppage analyzes how this practice led to a meaningful method to create impactful images and objects. Coppage... Continue reading Humphrey Gets His Flowers


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Digressions, an exhibition and corresponding book, weaves through an unspecified space and unfolds through experiences, relationships, and histories of growing up and living in the Midwest. Anchored in the liminal, the exhibition is structured around written correspondence and recorded conversations between artists Mark Albain and Joshua Berg, as well as their friends, family, and colleagues. The conversations are unscripted and undirected to allow freedom, authenticity, and chance, resulting in a loose framework that highlights the elusive sensation of immediacy and moving through place. Change and transformation thread the narrative, exploring the boundaries of experience in the Midwest. The interconnectedness... Continue reading Digressions

When the World Ends, I Want to Be in Cincinnati

Posted on March 14, 2022

It is rumored that Mark Twain once said, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.” Inspired by this sentiment, the exhibition explores the regional evolution of both climate and culture from a Midwestern perspective.

Surrounded by fertile land, rivers, and valleys, the greater-Cincinnati area is experiencing climate change at a slower rate than other regions of the United States. The alarm bells are ringing out west, but we can't hear them in Cincinnati.

Caroline Bell and Elisa Fay's photographic work wrestles with the following questions: If... Continue reading When the World Ends, I Want to Be in Cincinnati