Sophie Barbasch

BA, Brown University. MFA, Rhode Island School of Design. A New York-based photographer, Barbasch has exhibited internationally. Her selected grants and residencies include Light Work, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Brazil. SLC, 2021-

Undergraduate Courses 2022-2023

Visual and Studio Arts

Black-and-White Darkroom: An Immersion

Open, Seminar—Fall

This class will focus on the technical and conceptual underpinnings of black-and-white photography. Students will learn how to use the 35mm film camera and how to print in the darkroom. We will cover a wide range of technical topics, including exposure, film development, printing on RC and fiber paper, and split-filter printing. In-class lectures will introduce students to historical and contemporary practitioners, with a focus on voices and perspectives that have too often been sidelined in photo history curricula. Weekly shooting assignments will challenge students to engage with the complexities of the medium and think beyond traditional modes of presentation. Reading and writing assignments will supplement studio work; in addition to art criticism, we will read fiction and poetry by writers such as Elena Ferrante, Rebecca Solnit, and Jorie Graham. Some of the guiding questions for our class will include: How can we use photography, the indexical medium, to investigate what we don’t understand? How can making images teach us about the people and places closest to us? And how can printing and installation choices support our artistic arguments? At the end of the semester, each student will present a body of work on a topic of their choice.


On Chaos

Open, Concept—Spring

A feeling of profound instability is not unique to our time—yet, in the past two years, each of us has faced new and challenging circumstances. Can we, as artists, still make work in moments of chaos? How has chaos changed the way we make art? Can the limitations inherent in precarious situations push us to clarify our ideas and get to the core of what we are trying to say? What new opportunities arise when the structures around us shift? Through lectures and readings, we will consider how artists are responding to these questions currently and how they have responded to them in the past. Studio assignments, group exercises, written reflections, and class discussions will provide students with technical and conceptual strategies to engage with these issues. Some of the artists we will consider include Janet Cardiff, Eleonora Fabião, Danh Vo, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Hélio Oiticica, Do Ho Suh, Tacita Dean, Katrien de Blauwer, Daisuke Yokota, D’Angelo Lovell Williams, Martin Kollar, Mimi Plumb, Sofia Borges, Mike Ashkin, Diana Markosian, Joe Frank, and Sarah Charlesworth, among others.


Photographic Books

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

Prerequisite: one semester of college photography or the equivalent

In this studio course, students will explore a variety of ways to conceptualize the book form. Each week, we will look at work from artists and photographers who use books as primary, significant vehicles for their work. We will consider the book as a fluid container for our ideas, as we engage in weekly projects. Some of the questions we will ask include: What can a book look like? How can sequence, form, and design strengthen the argument of the work? When and why must a project exist as a book? Some of the themes we will address include the book as portrait, the book as studio, the book as clock, the book as field guide, the book as a psychological space, the book as archive, and the relationship between text and image. Independent studio time will be complemented by group critiques, class lectures, screenings, technical demonstrations, and guest lectures. In addition to weekly book assignments, each student will complete a semester-long book project of their choice.


Previous Courses

Visual and Studio Arts

The Camera/The World

Open, Small Lecture—Year

What are the political, social, and aesthetic implications of a world in which the image may have supplanted the truth? What are the consequences for communities that are less globally wired? Can humanism thrive in an image-saturated environment? Can racial and environmental justice be furthered in a plugged-in universe? In particular, what are the ramifications of iPhone-enabled “citizen journalism”? Who is telling the story of an image? Who is allowed to look at it? Who is disseminating it? Do images haunt our public memory? Do artists have a responsibility in image-making? The course structure is lecture/studio hybrid and will entail a combination of lecture, discussion, writing, and art making.