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No Photos Please; A solo exhibition by Michael Sell

Dec. 29, 2023

No Photos Please; A solo exhibition by Michael Sell

LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University’s Nightingale Gallery ushers in the new year with “No Photos Please” an exhibition of photographic work by Professor Michael Sell created during his recent sabbatical. “No Photos Please” opens on Friday, Jan. 12 at 5 p.m. with a reception for the artist.

Sell’s photographic work explores mortality, subcultures, and the progression of time through ritualistic and documentary practices. Using traditionally formal approaches to his subjects, these documents are sterile, still, and full of life; the work is a way for the artist to investigate the silences that exist between each subject and the camera while elevating the importance of every subject. 

Time is an innate element of all photographs, and it is the main facet that links the disparate works in this exhibition. The work in “No Photos Please” was produced during Sell’s sabbatical during the 2022-23 academic year, where his absence from teaching significantly altered his sense of “normal time.” While the works exist as different series, all of the images relate to time as a meditation on mortality, stillness, and distraction from the world at large. 

The tongue-in-cheek exhibition title belies the sheer number of images presented while calling attention to the ubiquity represented by every photograph, no matter how formal. Sell states, “By presenting images from different series together, I hope to put forward photography as a method for communicating our individual stories while serving as evidence of the capturing and passage of time.” 

“No Photos Please” serves as a distillation of the numerous photos taken by the artist over the past year, a summation of a year’s worth of traveling and absence from the world of teaching. The images bookmark a distinct year of Sell’s artistic life as artifacts of physical, emotional, and metaphorical time.

Professor Sell is a valued, respected and much-beloved member of the Art department at EOU. His photography has been exhibited throughout Michigan and Oregon, and in select shows in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Europe. He is a member of the Society for Photographic Education and the Popular Culture Association and has presented his research at SPE Northwest conferences; Popular Culture Association national conferences; and the International Conference on the Image in Spain in 2023. In 2014, he was an invited speaker and artist at Hobusepea Galerii in Tallinn, Estonia, for which he received a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission. In 2022, he traveled to Buenos Aires for a residency with proyecto áce. 

Professor Sell will present a colloquium entitled “When You Have Time” that will focus on his travels and the photographic work produced while on sabbatical from EOU. The talk will take place on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 4 p.m. in the gallery. The public is encouraged to attend this free event to learn more about the motivations behind the artist’s work. 

The opening reception for “No Photos Please” will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12. Visitors may experience the exhibit through Friday, Feb. 9, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, follow the Nightingale Gallery on Facebook and Instagram.

To request images of artwork for publication or to schedule an interview with the artist please contact Gallery Director Cory Peeke at cpeeke@eou.edu.