Update from recent MFA graduate Ben Alper



Recent News + New Work

Edition Available Through Paper Journal


Paper Journal recenlty launched an online store and is selling the above edition.

Untitled (Cinder Block Sculputre), 2014
pigment print
image size: 14.1 x 11.4″
paper size: 15.6 x 13″
edition of 15
price: £130

You can purchase one here.



Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant

I am happy to announce that I was recently awarded a Peter S. Reed Foundation grant in Photography. The grant will be used to fund the production of my first book. More details to follow in the coming months.


New Work


I recently updated my website with some new work. The image above is from a new series entitled The Scene. I also added a new piece called 49 Expressive Gestures, a collection of hands culled from my vernacular photography collection.


An Index of Walking


A little more than a year ago, I began a year long project entitled An Index of Walking. Recently, I finished it. You can see it in its entirety, here.


Happy Fall,
Ben Alper
Visit me here:


Liz Magic Laser visits Chapel Hill High School art class during her residency at UNC

The below pictures are courtesy of Jack Watson, whose Chapel Hill High School art class enjoyed a visit with Liz Magic Laser, our Hanes Visiting Artist, on 16 September 2014. Here is what Jack had to say:

“It was an incredible experience for my students (and myself) and the repercussions are still being felt.  Liz, your work has really resonated with some of the students on some deep levels, and I am surprised a bit by which students connected with you the most (although I should learn not to be surprised by this group anymore).

We are deep into our unit on public space and socially-engaged art right now.  After your visit, Liz, we had a rich conversation about intent, function and the spectator/participant’s role in generating meaning.  Also, several mentioned that they have learned to take comfort in ambiguities – they came to this conclusion in the way you spoke about your more politically-centered pieces.  It will be very interesting to see how this all of this informs their work.”

MFA candidate Shane Smith awarded residency at Starry Night

Congratulations to Shane Smith on his upcoming residency at Starry Night in Truth or Consequences, NM. The Starry Night Residency Program provides artists, writers, and researchers with the opportunity to live and work as part of a small, creative community. The AIR program runs year-round and features writers, filmmakers, visual artists, and researchers of all disciplines. The primary goal of the program is to support self-directed artists in the creation of new work while offering an environment that promotes self-reflection as well as risk-taking, experimentation, and innovation in art in the quiet, rustic environment of southern New Mexico.

MFA candidate Sydney Steen receives residency at Gullkistan Center for Creativity in Iceland

Congratulations to Sydney Steen on her residency at the Gullkistan Center for Creativity.

The Gullkistan residency was founded in spring 2009 and is now run all year round. At Eyvindartunga the farm, where there is room for 3-6 people.  A workstudio is in a renovated barn at the farm: Eyvindartunga is about 10 minutes walk from the village Laugarvatn.

The accommodation is fully equipped and there is internet access everywhere.

A small old jeep belonging to the residency can be borrowed for shorter excursions for a small fee.

Gullkistan has also been a place for seminars, courses in art, exhibitions of art and open studios.

The guests so far are mostly visual artists as well as writers, musicians, designers, photographers, filmmakers and scientists.

Minimum stay is one month but if you are interested in a shorter stay please contact us.

Gullkistan is very family friendly and we accept applications the whole year round.

The Place

The Laugarvatn valley has deep stillness, the faraway mountains with Hekla in the middle, the mysterious Laugarvatn lake, the ever changing steams from the ground, the cuddling mountain, the birch wood, the creeks and fissures, the trout, the special history of the school village and the wonderful people living in the village and surrounding farms.


Directors are Alda Sigurðardóttir and Kristveig Halldórsdóttir. They are both artists. Alda lives in Selfoss, 40 km from Laugarvatn and Kristveig in Reykjavik, 70 km from Laugarvatn. They assist guests as needed.

Kristveig and Alda have both been active artist as well as being active in the artist society of Iceland. They have curated together and separately many different projects on art.


In 1995 Kristveig and Alda planned the Gullkistan art festival in Laugarvatn. The interest it aroused was unbelievable. More than 130 people took part, visual artists, musicians, poets and writers, theater people, historians and other scholars of different kinds, and so on. It was then evident that many people were eager to enjoy the special atmosphere of Laugarvatn for creative purposes.

In 2005 they planned another festival, even bigger than before. This time the arts and the academic fields mixed even more and activities were of great variety. Both these festivals were centered in a school building that was built in 1929, Héraðsskólinn, but took place in many other buildings of the village and outdoors as well, even in a cross country hike around the lake as well as a climb up to the Gullkistan mountaintop.

After the second festival Alda and Kristveig started to prepare an international residency for artists and academics of all fields in Laugarvatn so more people could discover and enjoy the magic of Laugarvatn.

In 2009 the first guests arrived to the Gullkistan residency. To start with guests could stay in apartments in the Laugarvatn village and had access to a work studio nearby. In 2010 guests could also choose to stay in rooms at a nearby farmhouse where the common work studio was moved to. In 2011 Gullkistan started a whole year round service.

Alumni and MFAs in group show at Carrack Modern in Durham

Alumni Cody Platt (MFA 2014) and J Gray Swartzel (Honors BFA 2014) and current MFA candidate Naomi O’Donnell are featured in this Carrack Modern show opening tomorrow night!


Please come help celebrate the opening of Southerners: Queer identified artists finding home and family in the South! This show is a celebration of Southerners with Queer identities through visual and performance art. All events are FREE!
September 19th from 7-10pm at The Carrack Modern Art
DJ DudeFemme on the 1s and 2s!
Snacks, beer and wine provided.

Clovice Holt (Atlanta, GA)
Shannon Palumbo (Atlanta, GA)
Cassandra Hartblay (Carrboro, NC)
Cody Platt (Carrboro, NC)
Ginger Wagg (Carrboro, NC)
Naomi O’Donnell (Carrboro, NC)
Sarah Schwepker (Carrboro, NC)
Alex Stewart (Durham, NC)
Catherine Edgerton (Durham, NC)
Heather Gordon (Durham, NC)
Maryah Smith-Overman (Durham, NC)
Nicola Bullock (Durham, NC)
F.e. Toan (Gatlinburg, TN)
Carli Cox (Greensboro, NC now living in Seattle, WA)
E Henderson (Greensboro, NC)
Dinah DiNova (New Orleans, LA now living in Brooklyn, NY)
Lindsey Jett (New Orleans, LA)
Maxx Sizeler (New Orleans, LA)
Vanessa Adams (New Orleans, LA)
J Gray Swartzel (Raleigh, NC now living in Brooklyn, NY)
Taylor White (Raleigh, NC)

Curated by Kate Swearingen (Durham, NC)

The informal artists talk is on September 24th at 6pm. This is a byob event.
There will be several performance art shows on the evening of the 27th at 6pm

Art History Graduate Student Carlee Forbes published in current issue of African Arts

Congratulations to Carlee Forbes on the publication of her commentary on the Kongo Atlantic Dialogues conference that was held in conjunction with the Kongo Across the Waters exhibition organized by the Harn Museum.  Co-authored with her advisor, Dr. Rovine, their “First Word” appears in the latest African Arts issue.  The table of contents (and full access for UNC users) can be found here.