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Reading Photographs: An Introduction

By 16th May 2019January 22nd, 2020Discipline

SeminarsDiscipline — 08

Reading Photographs: An Introduction, with Michelle Dunn Marsh


This seminar is aimed at educators, professionals who work with images, such as editors, curators, and more, as well as the general public and visual artists.

It is becoming common knowledge that humans now consume more images than words daily (just over 1,500 on average). Most primary and secondary school programs globally include consistent progressive education in how to best use language in a variety of circumstances; few to none provide instruction on the interpretation of images.

This introduction to visual literacy through group viewing and discussion of 5–10 photographs is based on a curriculum developed in the 1950s by three American photographers and educators—Minor White, Walter Chappell, and Nathan Lyons—who predicted the photo-based culture we now occupy. We will walk through the process of conscious observation, discerning elements within the frame separate from our emotional responses to the photograph itself, touch on how our brains engage with imagery differently than text, and explore the distinctive positions of the photographer and the viewer.


5-6:30pm, Tue 28 May
Location: The Library Project, 4 Temple Bar Street, Dublin 2

Free, but booking required.
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Michelle Dunn Marsh has served in executive and creative roles in photography in the United States for the last 25 years. She co-founded Minor Matters, a collaborative publishing platform for contemporary art, in 2013, and has published 14 books to date. From 2013–2019 she served as Executive Director of Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW), where she is now Chief Strategist.

With a long track record of designing and editing art photography books, she began curating exhibitions in 2012, beginning with The Rolling Stones 1972: Photographs by Jim Marshall for Experience Music Project (now MoPOP) in Seattle. Here I Am: Photographs by Lisa Leone opened at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in September 2014. At PCNW she curated a number of significant exhibitions including Terminal: On Mortality and BeautyEugene Richards: Enduring Freedom, and All Power: Visual Legacies of the Black Panther Party, which premiered at the AIPAD Photography Show in 2018.

Dunn Marsh spent fifteen years with Aperture Foundation in New York City, was senior editor of art+design at Chronicle Books in San Francisco; and was a tenured professor in graphic design at Seattle Central Community College among other professional endeavours. She has lectured nationally about visual literacy, publishing, and the history of photography.