John Gossage Comes To Town

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This week the Columbia College Chicago’s Photography Department was happy to have Mr. John Gossage visit. He was here as part of the visiting artist series. He has been a prolific photographer and book maker for the last 50 years.

On Thursday he met with the undergraduates to chat about the economies of photo books. That evening he gave a lecture on his work. The lecture went on for a good hour or so, and he has a lot of stories to tell. He shared PDFs of the 8 books that he has coming out over the next two years. I am thoroughly impressed with the amount of work that he puts out into the world.

The real treat came on Friday though. Two weeks before he arrived in Graduate Seminar, he offered the graduate students a fantastic deal. He wanted to talk about his most recent book with us, and in order to do that, he wanted us each to have a copy and spend some time with it before he came. The book sells for $70, but since he wanted us to have it for discussion (and he knows we are poor students) he sent us his books for cost (which was $20). The idea of picking up ANY photo book for $20 is fairly unthinkable. So that was great.

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We spent about 4 hours with him on Friday discussing his book, asking him questions, and listening to him critique the work of the five grad students that had signed up. It is always nice to have people outside of Columbia (and outside the teaching world in general) come and look at the work we are making, because it is like having a fresh pair of eyes see the work. The guest critics have never seen the work before and have no clue what it is about. It is a great way to see if what you as an artist intend to come across in the work is actually coming across to an educated viewer seeing the work for the first time.

Finally, when he was done with his crit, and when we were done asking questions, he was nice enough to inscribe each one of our books before he had to leave. Twas a good day in seminar.