Student and her Teacher Take Top Prizes in Washington County Museum of Fine Arts’ “Cumberland Valley Photographers: Exhibition

Taylor Brown of Hagerstown won the 2024 Cumberland Valley Photographers Exhibition with her entry, “Girl in Grass.”

HAGERSTOWN, MD – An old proverb once said, “The goal of the teacher is for the student to surpass the teacher.”

For this year’s Washington County Museum of Fine Arts’ Cumberland Valley Photographers Exhibition, the student did indeed surpass the teacher. Barbara Ingram School for the Arts (BISFA) sophomore Taylor Brown, 16, of Hagerstown, won first place in the juried competition, while her teacher Kristen Green came in second place.

For this year’s competition, 40 photographs by 27 artists were accepted for the exhibition, which runs March 23—June 2, 2024, at the museum.

An opening reception Saturday, March 23, 1 to 3 p.m. includes a panel talk with the winners of the photographers exhibition and jurors Anne Gridley and Gary Graves of Gridley + Graves Photographers. The reception is free, but register in advance for the panel talk by contacting Donna Rastelli at 301-739-5727 or drastelli@wcmfa.org.

 “We’re proud of the museum’s commitment to artists within our region, and our Cumberland Valley exhibitions have a 90-year history,” said Sarah Hall, the museum’s executive director “In fact, we began showing photography as art in the early 1930s, when that was quite progressive—curators and collectors were still arguing about whether photography was an art form, but here at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts it has had a place on our exhibition schedule from the very earliest days.”

Jurors Anne Gridley and Gary Graves of Gridley + Graves Photographers also reflected on the history of photography as art in their jurors’ statement, referencing a pivotal 1978 exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art curated by the influential John Szarkowski called “Mirrors and Windows.”

They note that today the concept of photographs functioning as either ‘mirror’ or ‘window’ remains true. Photographers can use the medium to either look inward or outward, a fascinating duality that allows photography to be both intensely subjective and objective. They noted,

“Whether constructed in the studio or snapped without premeditation, photographs embody ideas: great ones draw us to them mysteriously as if absorbing our gaze,” read their jurors’ statement. “The photographs chosen for the exhibition are a small survey of contemporary and classic photography aesthetics with personal and universal appeal.” 

Taylor will receive $1,000 for her first-place win, “Girl in Grass.” Green won $500 for her second-place win for “Looking Back.”

Last year Brown participated in a school project focusing on the work of Dorothea Lange, a groundbreaking photojournalist known for her iconic images, particularly taken during the Great Depression.

“I decided to mimic that with the portraits that I took,” she said, which is why the image is in black and white.

“Girl in the Grass” was a spontaneous photo shoot with a classmate. Taylor said they were in a car and she pulled off to the side of the road, took out her Sony A 6500 camera, and had her subject lay in some tall grass. She took a quick picture before getting back in the car.  

“I didn’t think anything of it until my teacher was, ‘Hey, this could be something special’”

At first, Taylor didn’t see how special the photograph was but has come to view it with less critical eyes.

“I think it’s a good portrait,” she said. “That motion in her eyes looks authentic, and all the textures and the grass and the freckles on her face really stand out in the black and white.”

Green said the reason she encouraged Taylor to submit her image was because of a variety of elements.

“We talk about what makes a great portrait often in class and this photograph seemed to fit those criteria in many ways, composition, framing, subject,” she said. “It’s a striking image that sticks with you and when you have that, you know you have something special.”

Green, 34, of Hagerstown. said she’s excited for the one-two win for them both.

“I have been in the show before,” Green said, “but never alongside a student so this makes it even more special.”

Her winning entry, “Looking Back,” is an image of one of her daughters during a family trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She shot it with her camera of choice, a Leica CL.

“It was a rainy and cold day, so we decided to take a train ride,” Green said. “My daughters had never been on a train before. My oldest, Shea, was fascinated and curious about the train. She was looking out the window across from me, trying to see through the fog outside when I took the picture.”

Green said when she heard Taylor took top prize, she said she was extremely proud and excited for her. 

 “She is a hard worker, reflective, and has a lot of talent,” Green said of her student. “She’s only a sophomore, and I know her future is bright. I love to see her be recognized for her accomplishments.”

Green said she’s humbled that both are a part of such a great exhibition. “Our museum is such a gem, it’s always an honor and experience to have your work hanging inside.”

Green sees Taylor’s win as a way to encourage future photographers.

“I would like to encourage young photographers to keep making images and put their work out there, submit when there is an opportunity to,” she said. “Lastly, I would encourage those same young artists to plan a visit to the exhibition and to become an active participants and advocates for the arts.”

The Cumberland Valley Photographers exhibition is organized by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition is graciously supported by Hugh and Marty Talton, Delaplaine Foundation, and Washington County Arts Council.

THE WINNERS

CUMBERLAND VALLEY PHOTOGRAPHERS WINNERS

  • First Place Juror’s Award, $1,000 – Taylor Brown of Hagerstown, Maryland, “Girl in Grass,” digital photograph
  • Second Place Juror’s Award, $500 – Kristen Green of Hagerstown, Maryland, “Looking Back,” digital photograph
  • Third Place Juror’s Award, $250 – Valerie Dyer of Frederick, Maryland, “Into the Fog,” digital photograph
  • Washington County Arts Council Inc. Award, $250 ­ – Skyla Heise of Hagerstown, Maryland, “Gypsophila,” digital photograph

A People’s Choice Award, sponsored by the museum, will be announced at the end of the exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition may vote for their favorite during the run of the show. The winner will receive a $100 prize.

MEET THE JURORS

The Cumberland Valley Photographers Exhibition was juried by husband-and-wife team Anne Gridley and Gary Graves, of Gridley + Graves Photographers. 

The two met as students at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where they each graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art from RIT’s School of Photography.

After graduation from RIT, Graves continued his studies at the Banff Centre (Canada). Their work as commercial photographers include editorial features in home design magazines and books, plus projects for interior designers and architects. “East Coast to West Coast, we have been on assignment in nearly all 50 states, but we primarily work in the Midwest, South and New England,” Gridley said. Photographs produced by Gridley + Graves have been featured on 100 magazine covers and are included in nearly 40 anthologies on home and design. In 1999, G+G coauthored the book “Window Boxes Inside and Out” with James Cramer and Dean Johnson.

Whether on assignment or wandering the backroads of America, Gridley finds time to photograph iconic American landscapes. And with their traveling companions Welsh corgis Rookie and Winnie, Gridley and Graves log more than 50,000 miles a year traveling from shoot to shoot. The two are also avid collectors who use their professionally-honed aesthetic sensibilities in their own interiors.

ADDITIONAL WINNERS

The exhibition features work by the following photographers:

Julia Badger of Orrtanna, Pennsylvania

Taylor Brown of Hagerstown, Maryland 

Daniel Carbone of Fayetteville, Pennsylvania 

Rebecca Carpenter of Morgantown, Pennsylvania

Paul Chaplin of York, Pennsylvania 

Margaret Clingan of Williamsport, Maryland

Alec Dann of Washington, D.C.

Valerie Dyer of Frederick, Maryland

Peter Foiles of Frederick, Maryland

Christopher Fowler of Point of Rocks, Maryland

Todd Gardner of Frederick, Maryland

Kristen Green of Greencastle, Pennsylvania

Skyla Heise of Hagerstown, Maryland

Andrew Hoff of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 

John Krowka of Boonsboro, Maryland 

Amelie Lavenant-Wink of Hagerstown, Maryland 

Jillian Abir MacMaster of Frederick, Maryland

Cam Miller of New Market, Maryland

Ed Morningstar of Fayetteville, Pennsylvania 

Mark Muse of Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Robert Permenter of New Market, Maryland

Elaine Schuch of: Etters, Pennsylvania 

David Shuster of Smithsburg, Maryland

Michael Hunter Thompson of Cumberland of New Market, Maryland

Joe Williams of Frederick, Maryland

Beamie Young of Dickerson, Maryland

Mark Youngblood of Hagerstown, Maryland

The “Cumberland Valley Artists”exhibition will follow June 15—Aug 25. 2024. An annual tradition since the 1930s, the Cumberland Valley Photographers and Cumberland Valley Artists exhibitions showcase, celebrate, and support artists of the Cumberland Valley region.

Note: IMAGES AVAILABLE FOR ALL CVP WINNERS

ABOUT THE WASHINGTON COUNTY MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

Located In beautiful City Park, Hagerstown, Maryland, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1931, the legacy of Hagerstown native Anna Brugh Singer and her husband, Pittsburgh-born artist William Henry Singer, Jr. Featuring a collection of more than 6,500 objects, the Museum has important holdings of American painting, Old Masters, decorative arts, and sculpture. The museum schedules an ambitious program of exhibitions, lectures, concerts, tours, and talks featuring national and international artists, as well as a yearly showcase of the art of students in Washington County Public Schools. Its free youth art education programs have served four generations of local families.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is located at 401 Museum Drive, Hagerstown, Maryland. Free parking is available adjacent to the Museum. Hours are 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Tuesday – Friday; 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Saturday; 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sunday; the museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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