Photo alumna exhibits work internationally

Marshall University photography alumnus Miranda Fields currently has artwork in an international exhibition.

The juried exhibition is titled Breaking Boundaries III. 10 international university students were chosen to show five works at the 10th Annual Pingyao, China International Photography Festival.  It’s located in a 2700-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site. They typically get about 100,000 international visitors during the exhibit, which shows in ancient temples, factories, and warehouses.

Fields had just graduated with a Master’s degree in Photography and was preparing to head to the Anderson Ranch Art Center out in Aspen when photography professor Daniel Kaufmann came to her with a flyer and said it was a great opportunity to exhibit work internationally.

Fields read that they only accepted 10 students. She hadn’t received any notification of being accepted, so she assumed the worst.

“Then one day in November I checked my email and the director of the gallery had emailed a congratulatory email and sent me some images of my work on display,” Fields said. “I was so excited! I was chosen to display all five of my photos that I had sent from my SIX series –one that critiques the cultural effects of celebrity suicide and questions mass media’s role in creating and perpetuating the iconic status of “celebrity.”

Fields noted the importance of being chosen. “When you’re selected as one of only 10 international students to display in such a prestigious exhibition, it really creates an overwhelming sense of accomplishment,” she said. “The series itself is incredibly important to me because of my own experience with the subject matter, and without the help of the faculty at Marshall University, it would never have turned out as successful as it did. The photo professor, Danny Kaufmann, has always gone out of his way to push his students to strive past mediocrity, and I owe a lot of my success to him.”

Kaufmann is happy to have Fields among a list of successful graduates. “Miranda is an excellent representation of our program and serves as a perfect example of an alumnus who has continued to pursue her blossoming artistic career.”

Fields currently works in the sales department at WSAZ and works primarily with commercial advertising. She also teaches Darkroom Photography as an adjunct professor at Marshall and is the darkroom lab technician on the weekends.

“It’s a busy schedule, but I think it’s important to continue working in education so that I’m able to constantly learn,” Fields said. “Art doesn’t pause for a moment—there are constantly new ways to produce and new subjects to explore.”

But there’s a more serious topic that led Fields into this series of work.

Within four consecutive days of her last week as an undergraduate at Marshall, three close friends attempted to take their own lives. “While only one of them succeeded, the question of why they wanted to die remained unanswerable by the two survivors,” she said. “That mystery forced me to question not only the act itself, but the possible causes and effects left by those who succeeded in the act. Through my personal research on suicide, I found that statistically each suicide in the United States is found to deeply affect six people closely related to the person that took his or her life.”

Fields shared an excerpt from her artist statement, “Six recreates numerous celebrities at that pivotal moment when they are about to embark on their personal act of self-destruction. After speaking with multiple survivors, most agreed that the moment after they decided to commit suicide was the clearest instance they have experienced in their lives. In my recreation of these last moments, the subjects gaze directly into the camera, daring the viewer to engage with them throughout their personal physical demise. The lighting in each image is symbolic of the clarity of that moment, while the dark vignette simultaneously encapsulates them to showcase their last moment on earth. I have chosen to recreate instances involving famous individuals to force the question of how many people are truly affected by the act of a single suicide. Six critiques the cultural effects of celebrity suicide and questions mass media’s role in creating and perpetuating the iconic status of celebrity.”