Monday, April 11, 2016

Drew Nikonowicz: This World and Others Like It

A new exhibition at the MU Student Center showcases the work of an up-and-coming photographer, Drew Nikonowicz, who will graduate from MU with a BFA in May, 2016. Three works from the artist's recent show in New York City are on display on the first floor of the MU Student Center's West End. This exhibition is on display until May 12, 2016.
First Floor of the MU Student Center, on display until May 12, 2016

Drew Nikonowicz (BFA, 2016) has garnered international recognition for his photography. His work explores the meaning of landscape in a 21st century world in which you can “be” anywhere with the click of a mouse. He draws on the traditions of landscape photography begun by artists like Ansel Adams and Timothy O’Sullivan, using large format photography printed in black and white. Nikonowicz also takes advantage of 21st century digital methods to fabricate landscapes. The results of the two creation methods, born-digital processes and traditional darkroom techniques, explore the contrasts of real and imagined landscapes and the viewer’s relationship to each. In his larger project, with the images displayed next to each other, it can be difficult to discern the fabricated from the real. This dichotomy of vision reminds the viewer that they are absorbing a construction of the artist’s vision and skill rather than a true vision made with one’s own eyes, no matter if the subject is real or created digitally.

In 2015, Nikonowicz won significant photography competitions with his project, This World and Others Like It. The Aperture Foundation’s 2015 Aperture Portfolio Prize included a gallery show in New York City. Upon awarding him first place in their 2015 Student Prize, the editors of Lenscratch, an international photography magazine, said:

    “His stark black and white capture is a nod to traditional markers of the landscape but it also unifies the idea of how we consider our world, whether from the viewpoint of a canyon’s edge with a 4 x 5 camera or within a uniquely created landscape of video gaming or even architectural rendering.” (Aline Smithson, Lenscratch, June 29, 2015)

The artist often uses photographs of photographs or photographs of images on a screen, which creates a tension of authorship and viewership. His images can be about looking at images or about looking a landscape or object.  Drew Nikonowicz problematizes the viewer’s relationship to the landscape. He reminds the viewer that their experience of that landscape is mediated, sometimes through multiple layers, via technology, society, and the lens of a camera.

To view more of Drew's work, visit his website at

The MU Student Unions' Public Arts Collection loves supporting our student artists.  If you are interested in submitting works for upcoming group shows or a possible solo show, please contact us at

Blog authored by Sarah S. Jones, Curator of Public Arts and Doctoral Candidate.