Meet Eric Weeks | Chair of Photography & Video
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019
Eric Weeks is the Chair of our Photography Department (Update: As of the 2019-2020 academic year, the Photography & Video Department). Weeks first fell in love with photography at the age of 16. His high school photography teacher, Ken Ross, recognized his interest and helped obtain a full-tuition, four-year scholarship to attend art school in New York City. After receiving his BFA, he played bass in a rock band for a few years while exhibiting photography and working as a commercial photographer and custom printer.
Weeks then attended the Yale School of Art and received his MFA in photography. At Yale, he had his first experience teaching, and realized that he enjoyed it. Teaching helped him find his voice. For the next 15 years, Weeks taught as an adjunct professor at many colleges and universities and, at the same time, worked as an editorial photographer for magazines such as Newsweek, Discover, and Fortune. He also launched his own custom digital and analog printing company, where he prints exhibition work for well-known artists.
Weeks continues to exhibit his own photography and video work and is represented by Galerie Catherine et André Hug in Paris. His work has been shown in Paris, Marrakesh, Cairo, Berlin, China, South Korea, and Singapore, and his next exhibition will be in Sydney, Australia this coming May. His work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Maison Européene de la Photographie, the Bibliotheque Nationale, and the Sir Elton John Collection, among others. You may feel that you’ve just learned a ton about Weeks, and there’s even more to learn about his students and department.
Tell us about the photography department?
EW: The photography department is a very close-knit, academically rigorous department. We refer to the photo major community as Photo Fams or Photo Family. The curriculum balances tutelage in photography and video techniques, with conceptual and critical thinking skills. Students learn how to use advanced equipment and make technically strong photographs and videos, while also concentrating on developing their ideas, and learning how to best use visual imagery to communicate. Twice a semester, we have a day-long All Department Critique. All of the students in the three years of the major gather, and all of their work is critiqued. It is a long and fruitful day. Students learn from the faculty, and also from each other across the years of the major.
The photography faculty are strong practitioners and educators who are very dedicated to helping our students succeed. The faculty use photography in different ways, and our job is to promote all the myriad ways that the medium can be utilized in the world, and help our students prosper in however they want to use it.
We invite excellent photographers and cultural thinkers to PCA&D for visiting artist talks and department visits. This year photographers Elinor Carucci and Sarah Teller visited from New York City, and A.D. Coleman, known as the very first photography critic, gave an important lecture about photographer Robert Capa in a joint Liberal Arts and Photography event. Also this year, alumnus Pacifico Silano ‘08 had a solo photography exhibition in the college gallery, and worked with the photo students over a two day span.
Because photography is a universal and global language that breaks through and transcends barriers of different spoken languages, it is important for photography majors to engage the world. For the past seven years, the students have participated in a blog exchange with students at Kyungil University in South Korea. Photo students also exhibited their work at the 2018 Pingyao International Photography Festival in Pingyao, China last fall. Some of the students will have the opportunity to exhibit there again this coming fall, in an exhibition I am curating that will celebrate undergraduate photography. I am continually looking for global partners, and hope to expand this programming greatly in the coming years.
What are some of the characteristics of students who are most successful in your department?
EW: The photography students are a varied group, all with their own strengths. The most successful students are inquisitive and always challenging themselves to learn new techniques and ways of thinking. Our students use the medium to contemplate and communicate their experiences. Our photography students are a thoughtful bunch of people!
What type of career paths do students in your department take after graduation?
EW: Career paths in photography are just as varied as the students themselves. Some of our students go on to open their own freelance studios, offering portraiture and wedding photography. Some work full-time at large studios that specialize in product photography. Others are sports photographers and music photographers. Many exhibit their work in galleries, and some continue their education, earn their master’s degree and become teachers themselves. Ashley Moog Bowlesbey ‘12 completed her MFA and came back to teach a class at PCA&D. She is now a professor at nearby college. Like myself, many students decide to use photography in several different ways. A life in photography is open to many possibilities!
Have you stayed in touch with any of your students after graduation?
EW: Yes, I have stayed in touch with many of them. Once you are part of the Photo Fams, you are always family! Just this past semester, the department visited Liz Schatz Craven ‘12 at Brilliant Graphics, a top-line photography book printer in Exton, PA. Liz is the studio manager there. We also visited Amy Nicole Brenner ‘12 and Shannon McCoy ‘15, who work at Shadowlight Studios in Leola, PA. We are also connected to many of the PH alumni through our Instagram account. Please follow us at @pcad_photovideo!
Share a favorite memory from your experience teaching at PCA&D.
EW: Oh, there are so many… Last fall, three current students and an alumna traveled to Pingyao, China for the International Photography Festival. We had such a great time together, saw so much photography, and met so many photographers. It was a trip with four wonderful students that I will always remember. I am definitely working on future trips like this one.
If there was one thing you wanted students considering PCA&D and your department to know about the college, what would it be?
EW: The PCA&D community is a vibrant and caring home, where you can learn so much from both the faculty and your peers. It really does become a new family. Personally, I live in New York City on the weekends, and come down to PCA&D to teach during the week. I come down here because our college is a wonderful place to teach and learn. I strongly believe in the community and educational practices at PCA&D.
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