Arts & Culture
6:57 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

PHOTOS: Photography Collective Captures Wisconsin's Extremes

Lake Effect's Bonnie North interviews MAM photography curator Lisa Sutcliffe and photographers Donovan Wylie of Northern Ireland and Jacob Sobol of Denmark.

Photography is usually thought of a solitary pursuit, but when you're trying to capture the essence of a state like Wisconsin, you might need some back-up.

For the past year and a half, a group of photographers from the photographic cooperative Magnum Photos has fanned out across America. The project, Postcards from America, aims to capture the essence of specific places across the country from multiple points of view.

The fifth and latest subject of the project is Wisconsin. Photographers began arriving in August of last year, some are here now, and the last group will get here in April. They explore and photograph, capturing people architecture, and whatever speaks to them about the area.

An exhibition based on the work of those 11 photographers will be on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum this summer. In the meantime, they are posting some of the photos on the project’s Tumblr page as they’re taken. 

Donovan Wylie is a British photographer from Northern Ireland who is participating in the Wisconsin project. He says each photographer brings a different perspective, creating a diverse, sometimes disparate, and rich collection of images - "a visual tapestry" that create a larger picture.

“We are all making independent work, but it’s kind of like a band,” Wylie says. “Being together is sort of like being in a recording studio and you’re coming back each day with material and you are showing each other.”

Wylie tends to capture photographs of architecture, whereas Denmark's Jacob Aue Sobol looks to people and contrast for his art.

“I tend to look for warm things in cold places and make this contrast a combination between the cold and the warmth of the people,” he says.

Milwaukee Art Museum’s curator of photography Lisa Sutcliffe says three photographers came in August to capture images from the Wisconsin State Fair and other festivities. The current group (along with photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti) is capturing the dark cold winter months, and the remaining five photographers are still deciding what to capture.

A panel discussion with the photographers will take place on April 6th. The Milwaukee Art Museum will display the artwork this summer by photographer and then select photographs to be incorporated into the traveling exhibit.