Just the Facts

Institution
Harvard University

Year
1999

Project
Research the people and places in an abandoned family “art” photo album, writing the story of the search and documenting it with photographs

Maika Pollack

I would like to thank the Hays family for the opportunity to travel and work in 1999. In October 2000, I co-founded and currently run an art gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Our gallery shows emerging artists and artist-curated group shows and was called “one of the best young galleries in Brooklyn” by The New York Times. I am also a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, studying early European modernism and the history of photography.

The fellowship was an incredibly important experience for me. My project took me to Paris, Morocco and London to re-photograph an original 1930s travel album that I purchased in the Clingancourt flea market in Paris. After photographing in Morocco for three months, I lived in London to print the photographs taken during the trip and exhibited the work in a small gallery there. The project explored themes of colonialism, gender, and the relationship between photography and history. From 2002-2004, I wrote on this project as the basis for a master in fine arts thesis at Columbia University.

The unplanned things that happened during the Fellowship year had the most profound impact on me. During the time I was printing in the darkroom in London, I saw small art galleries in the East End of London on a daily basis. This experience with local, artist-run galleries helped me to open a gallery in Brooklyn. While in Morocco in 1999, I met my husband, who is also our gallery co-founder. These accidents were among the most positive aspects of the fellowship. Of course I would apply for the fellowship again. I’m sure I would change my project proposal knowing what I know now and being a slightly older person, but if I did I’m not sure if the year would be any more successful. In some ways it was the chaos of being just out of college that made the experience so fruitful.

The only advice I would give is that the program might help recipients by providing them with access to inexpensive health care during the fellowship year. At the time I was a Fellow the cost of independent health insurance was about one third of the total amount of the award, so I just went without it as I suspect other Fellows probably chose to do as well. Yet it was at times daunting and difficult to be uninsured when traveling so often and for so long.

I would love to see past Fellows at the gallery and hope this report has been helpful.

SOUTHFIRST:ART
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www.southfirst.org