Tema Stauffer is a photographer whose work examines the social, economic, and psychological landscape of American spaces. Her work has been exhibited at Sasha Wolf, Daniel Cooney Fine Art, and Jen Bekman galleries in New York City, as well as galleries and institutions internationally, including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. In 2010, she was awarded an AOL 25 for 25 Grant for innovation in the arts for her combined work as an artist, curator, and writer. She was a finalist for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2013; she was also the recipient of the 2012 Women in Photography – LTI/Lightside Individual Project Grant and a 2014 Workspace Residency for her documentary portrait series, Paterson, depicting residents of Paterson, New Jersey during the years following the American economic crisis. She received her BA from Oberlin College and her Master’s degree in photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Stauffer has taught at Concordia University in Montreal, Ramapo College of New Jersey, College of Staten Island, William Paterson University and the School at the International Center of Photography.
My recent photographic series, ‘Upstate,’ focuses on urban and rural landscapes, environments and relics in or around Hudson, New York. The first city chartered in the United States in 1785, Hudson has a long history of economic prosperity and decline. Located on the banks of the Hudson River, it has undergone vivid transitions from a thriving whaling and merchant seaport to a boom-and-bust factory town, then to a depressed and struggling city throughout much of the 20th century, and transformed again in recent decades by revitalization and economic growth. This small city is characterized by eclectic examples of early American architecture and is surrounded by agricultural communities cultivated by Dutch settlers in the Hudson Valley.
The photographs of ‘Upstate’ record the imprint of American industrial and agricultural history left on settings throughout this region. Lyrically depicted are ordinary houses, front porches, decaying barns, parked cars, winter branches and evocative landscapes, along with portraits of local residents. Some of these photographs reveal a haunted or melancholic atmosphere that permeates the Hudson Valley, where the past remains deeply resonant. Each photograph in this series is captured with a medium or large-format camera on color film in existing light. Combining poetry with realism, these images express a quiet beauty and mystery in the vernacular architecture and artifacts reflecting the industrial era and rural settings in upstate New York and the shifting economic realities over time.
To view more of Tema Stauffer’s work please visit her website.