It is the hope of the individual artist to make work that speaks to their time, to influence the world around them. C.J. Pressma has done that – maybe enough for several artists, through his personal work, certainly, but also by operating the Center for Photographic Studies - an alternative school of creative photography, in Louisville in the early 1970’s.
When he founded the Center for Photographic Studies in 1970, Pressma’s initiative was part of what can now be seen halcyon period in Louisville’s creative life. Although open only eight years, the Center’s influence is still felt nearly forty years later. Nearly every photographer above a certain age working in this town seems to have spent time studying there, connecting local commercial and artist photographers with national names in the field such as Henry Horenstein, currently a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design.
On his website, Pressma explains: “The Center provided a learning experience for those seeking to explore photography as creative expression. During its existence the center attracted students from over 35 states and foreign countries to its full-time resident program and provided part-time instruction and darkroom access for hundreds of students in the Louisville metropolitan area. Its two galleries provided monthly photographic exhibits featuring the works of local, regional, and internationally acclaimed photographic artists including Ansel Adams and Minor White.”
Pressma’s work can be currently be seen in Altered Perceptions, an LVA Photo-Biennial Exhibit at Metro Hall, which runs July 17 through January 12, 2018. Some of the images we see here are featured in that show, which also includes work from Mitch Eckert and Jenny Zeller. There are certainly many facets to this artist’s work, but here we view pieces from a period when he printed photographic images and digital graphics onto fabric, allowing him to incorporate them into quilts; a non-traditional photographic presentation tied to a form steeped in tradition.
Pressma enjoyed a highly successful career as a multimedia producer and marketing communications specialist. In 1984, his seven part series Witness to the Holocaust, was released in the U.S. and Canada where it remains in distribution today. Witness to the Holocaust is one of the first productions to use survivor interviews as the exclusive content to tell the story of the Holocaust, and has received numerous national awards.
Pressma has been recognized nationally:
1978 - National Endowment Fellowship in Photography.
1997 - American Advertising Federation’s prestigious Silver Medal Award for “outstanding contributions to advertising and furthering the industry’s standards, creative excellence, and responsibility in areas of social concern.”
2001 - Fellowship by the Kentucky Arts Council.
C.J. Pressma is a graduate of Antioch College and holds an MFA. in Photography from Indiana University. He studied as a special graduate student with Minor White at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and with Henry Holmes Smith at Indiana University.
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: BA, Antioch College; MFA, Indiana University
Gallery Representative: Pyro Gallery (Louisville)
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.