Admissions Counselor Osmyn Oree ’11 selected as artist-in-residence at Franklin & Marshall College
Friday, July 29th, 2022
Pennsylvania College of Art & Design Admissions Counselor Osmyn Oree isn’t a flashy, theatrical photographer when it comes to the portraits he creates.
Instead, the fine art photographer says, “I like to keep things relatively simple. That’s me, as a photographer, being real with people.”
Since the start of 2022, Oree — a 2011 BFA graduate in Photography from PCA&D — has served as an artist-in-residence at nearby Franklin & Marshall College. The opportunity has afforded him the time and the support to continue working on a series of photo portraits that’s served as a focus and ongoing inspiration for the last four years.
That series, I’m Still Black, was inspired “by the difference I saw in me and other Black people growing up and being ‘different.’ It started with interviews and recording them and, as it went on, I just generally got the stories by talking to people and taking the pictures at the same time.”
Shooting mainly film with a large-format Toyo Field 45A 4X5 Folding View Camera, and printing the resulting images at 4 feet tall, Oree creates a body of work that is, literally, larger than life and compelling to study. Undertaking the F&M residency, he says, gave him the chance to expand what he’d been able to accomplish before gaining the residency’s backing.
“It’s introduced me to a lot of different facets,” Oree says, “from Black students on the campus to working with F&M’s Black Student Union — they were awesome — to opportunities to photograph different people I didn’t know or have a connection to before.” The project, he adds, “changes with new people I meet.”
“It’s given me time to try different paper, different formats, different sizes — go even larger — expanding what I’ve usually done.” What hasn’t changed, however, is his conviction that it’s important that “the technique, the photography, come through. That’s why I gravitate toward (photographing) the way I do.”
Oree’s artist-in-residence program, funded through Franklin & Marshall’s Center for the Sustained Engagement with Lancaster, also has given the photographer a chance to really take stock of the full process he uses, from the film he chooses to the camera, to thinking about how he stores and prints images.
He aims to wrap up the photography portion of his residency by September, before opening an exhibition of his I’m Still Black art residency work at Franklin & Marshall’s Winter Visual Arts Center in October.
“There’s still a lot to do with this project,” Oree says of I’m Still Black. “It’s probably going to have phases and evolve, and change. I don’t know if it’ll ever end, because in my head there’s always more people to talk to and get their stories.”
Image: Self portrait photo by Osmyn Oree