(Baton Rouge) – As the LSU School of Art works to develop its new curriculum in the digital arts, a recent photography graduate is earning national praise for his work in the field – work he pioneered during his years at LSU.
Jamie Baldridge, who received his Master’s of Fine Arts from the School of Art two years ago, has published a cutting-edge collection of photographs in a book that was honored earlier this month with a Lucie Award, one of the highest and most prestigious awards in the photography world.
The award was given to 21st Editions, the publisher of Baldridge’s book, The Everywhere Chronicles. The Massachusetts-based publishing house is renowned for publishing some of the most elite and elegant photographic books in the world. It won the Lucie Publisher of the Year Award for Baldridge’s opus, a collection of 13 fanciful images that were digitally created and hand-printed in pigment ink.
“Jamie is, perhaps, the first truly digital artist we have produced in the School of Art,” said Rod Parker, interim director of the LSU School of Art. “To have a book published by 21st Editions was a coup in and of itself. To win this award at his age/stage is truly spectacular.”
The Everywhere Chronicles began as the subject of Baldrgidge’s MFA thesis when he was at LSU. Using sumptuous colors and the bizarre, sometimes zany and often mystical imagery, Baldridge reveals a world he has miraculously imagined. He then takes the viewer on tour through the whimsical travelogue he has written to accompany his masterful photographs. 21st Editions utilized color pigment ink printing for the first time in publishing The Everywhere Chronicles.
Baldridge is currently an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. His first international solo exhibition opens at Richard Goodall Gallery in Manchester, U.K. next week and will be followed by another solo exhibition in Madrid. His work and writings can also be found in many collections such as the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, McNeese University’s Abercrombie Gallery, the Lulu and Paul Hilliard Museum, the Rare Books collections of the Library of Congress, and Cornell University, as well as numerous private collections.
Baldridge’s award underscores the significance of the LSU School of Art’s emerging curriculum in the field of digital arts. The School is actively involved in LSU’s new AVATAR initiative, which will bring together several academic departments in an effort to create a multi-disciplinary research and teaching environment in the field of digital art.
The initiative will bring together several schools within the University, including those within the College of Art and Design – art, architecture, landscape architecture and interior design – as well as engineering, English, computer science, mass communication and music. The idea is to bring these various disciplines together and create an operating environment for research and teaching that transcends the typical academic lines.
Baldridge is a beneficiary of the planning that went into creating the AVATAR initiative. As a graduate student, he studied and experimented with new digital media, breaking new creative ground that will become commonplace as new digital media courses are introduced into the School of Art’s curriculum.
“During his time at LSU Jamie benefited from and contributed significantly to the development of the AVATAR Digital Arts initiative in the School of Art,” said Parker. “His mastery of the technical aspects of digital art and animation and his determination to push the work creatively and conceptually are indicators of what we see emerging from this new curriculum.”
As a graduate student, Baldridge studied closely with Parker and also with photography Professor Tom Neff, renowned for his photographs of post-Katrina New Orleans. He credits their influence with the professional success he is enjoying today.
“My studies at LSU under both Professor Parker and Professor Neff prepared me well for the new frontier of digital imaging,” said Baldridge. “More than anything, their support of my experimentation and encouragement to shift into the digital world is what gave me my impetus to begin producing the work that you see today.”