There will also be opportunities for visitors and conference-goers to tour and photograph Ouray’s surroundings, as well as take a walking tour to visit the town’s William Henry Jackson collection. About 45 photographers and educators are expected to attend, and scholarships are available for local students.
The location for this year’s conference is in large part thanks to Jennifer Loshaw, director of the Ouray Chamber Resort Association and co-chair of the southwest region of the society. “I wanted to bring the regional to Ouray because of the opportunities to photograph from town,” Loshaw said. “I wanted to share the beauty of our area as well as introduce SPE to the Western Slope.”
Loshaw has been involved with the organization since 2004, when she volunteered at a national conference in Rhode Island. “I suppose SPE has been a group where I have been able to network and build my experience and have a supportive forum to learn and grow as an educator, artist and as a social being,” Loshaw said. “I find the group provides the tools and support that one loses once you have graduated from college.” Loshaw holds a master of fine arts degree in photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
In their own words, the society exists to “promote high standards in photographic education, to foster and encourage the practice of the art of photography, to elevate public taste in photography, and to cooperate with all other organizations having similar purposes.” The group works toward artistic and educational excellence. Items of discussion include in-depth retrospectives of artists’ works, publication, social and political issues, conservation, preservation, the future the past of the medium, processing from film to digital issues, program and professional development.
Its membership comes predominately from the academic world and includes deans, department chairs, museum curators, and other working artists. Although the majority of its 1,800 members are fine art photographers and educators, curators, critics, historians, and artists are also members.
In her own work, Loshaw has focused her efforts on program development, and she lectures on social responsibility as an artist. She developed the Ridgway Arts Program at the Ridgway State Park, a program which incorporates photography internships and artists-in-residency into a collaborative project for art and environmental education. The mural in the visitors center was created under this program.
For the SPE conference, Friends of the Ridgway State Park is offering scholarships for local students interested in environmental education through photography. Scholarships are limited.
The conference takes place at the Ouray Community Center on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17 and 18. Contact Loshaw at 325-4746 for more information or visit www.spesw.org.