LAWRENCE — The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced that Daniel Coburn, assistant professor of photo media, has been named as one of its 2017 Fellows for the Creative Arts in photography.
Over the past 10 years, Coburn’s work has been inspired by studies of the traditional family photo album. Frustrated by the lack of images of the true and sometimes troubling nature of his own family history, he set out to create a supplement to his own broken family album.
“The family photo album is a construct that often provides a glossy façade; an overidealized American, domestic utopia. The things that you see in family albums are clichés, exactly what you expect to see. I think there are issues that are never approached, the darker side of family life,” Coburn said.
“Photography has a way of asking questions and making assertions in a different way than written, verbal or physical language. The Guggenheim Foundation fellowship will support my work so I can continue to explore the unique language of photography within the context of my own family history. I hope that these photographs inspire a conversation about important issues related to relationships within families.”
Coburn’s careful sequencing of these images in his monograph, “The Hereditary Estate,” published in 2015 by Kehrer Verlag, creates a powerful dialogue with the viewer, designed to inspire an emotional and visceral response.
“Daniel's Guggenheim Fellowship places him among the world’s most accomplished artists,” said Andrea Herstowski, associate professor and Department of Design chair. “This is a tremendous achievement, and all of us are looking forward to his continued success.”
“Although Daniel’s body of work is extraordinary, we also must not overlook his remarkable ability to inspire his students,” said Mahesh Daas, dean of the School of Architecture, Design & Planning. “KU can justly be proud that he is a member of our faculty and community.”
Coburn joined the design department faculty in 2013, the same year he received his MFA with distinction from the University of New Mexico.
His photographs have been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Mulvane Art Museum, Silver Eye Center for Photography, Filter Photo Space and La Fototeca Gallery. His work has also appeared in numerous international group exhibitions, including "Álbum de Família at Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica," in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
His prints are held in collections at major institutions, including the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art and the University of New Mexico Art Museum.
The John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship program was established in 1925. The fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. Advisers to the foundation, all of whom are former fellows, review thousands of submissions and award about 175 fellowships each year.