Exhibit features photos from Lattanzio's 45 years at ISU

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - 11:33

Exhibit features photos from Lattanzio's 45 years at ISU

  • When Fran Lattanzio looks over her career’s work — on display at Indiana State University’s Turman Gallery — she sees consistency.

    The processes and equipment and subject matter all changed throughout her 45 years of practicing and teaching photography, but the odd angles and unique architecture she’s captured weave a compositional thread between her work.

    The exhibit, “FIN: Photography by Fran Lattanzio,” will be on display through Oct. 2 at the gallery. 

  • It wasn’t intentional when selecting pieces for the gallery — a 45-piece collection featuring one photograph from each of Lattanzio’s years at ISU — she said, but unique happenstance. 

    Lattanzio also sees, she said, a life-long obsession with learning.

    With both a bachelor’s and master’s of fine arts degrees from the University of Michigan, Lattanzio was hired as a photography instructor at ISU in 1975.

    She said the university had some photography classes when she came aboard, but no single dedicated teacher nor curriculum.

    “And when I think about it I was young, 25 years old, and was the only woman on the faculty,” Lattanzio said. “I think everyone thought I was a kid.

  • “It was a challenge at first, and in a way that if one of my graduate students came to me and said they had a similar opportunity to the one I had, I would probably tell them that’s not where they should start for a first job.

    “But, thankfully, no one said that to me.”

    Her struggle to overcome the challenges of starting a program from scratch and bucking some people’s perception that photography wasn’t real “art” can be seen in the self portraits she took in her first few years at ISU.

  • Lattanzio said the dramatic, blurred portraits were borne of her not knowing anyone in Terre Haute and being a young woman wrestling with all that came with her decision to take on the role at ISU.

    In the years following, Lattanzio’s affinity for architecture, odd angles and the illusion of space intersperse with still life photos of plants and light shapes and shadows.

  • All done on film for the first 20-plus years, the prevalence of digital photography necessitated Lattanzio’s learning the new medium.

    “We might take for granted all the things we have today and not consider there was a time when those things weren’t the norm,” Lattanzio said of digital photography.

    “I had to teach myself how to teach digital. I had to teach myself how to teach color because when I was in school, no one was doing color film photography.”

  • And while Lattanzio says there are some definite benefits to digital photography, it, like anything else, has a time and place.

    “I think some people thought that when digital photography took off, everything was going to be digital,” Lattanzio said. “Digital is great, you can do a lot of different things with it, but there are still plenty of reasons to use film.”

    And while the first half of the gallery is exclusively film, the second half is a mix of the film, digital and a couple done using antique processes.

    The final picture in the exhibition “Partenza” is an askew photograph of the stairs at Fairbanks Hall, where Lattanzio taught her classes, where she for 45 years walked up and down and grew and learned.

  • And if she felt in 1975 “I’ve lost the Person I was meant to be,” as her first photograph in the gallery is titled, Lattanzio surely found herself in the 45 years between that photo and Partenza.

    “I love teaching. I miss it, but I know it’s time,” Lattanzio said. “It’s meant a lot to me and I’m still in contact with a lot of the students I’ve had over the years, even going back to the very beginning.

    “And so really I’ve now got friends all over the place.”

    “FIN: Photography by Fran Lattanzio,” will be on display through Oct. 2 at ISU’s Turman Gallery. 


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