Stander works to expand diversity in photography collection

By Michael Linnell
University Communications Director

MINOT, N.D. – After working with a student on a self-documentary project, Minot State University Associate Professor of Art Ryan Stander realized an issue with the University’s literature collection in his discipline.

There was a lack of diversity in the photography books at the Gordon B. Olson Library.

“A few years ago, I noticed that my non-white students were most drawn to photography made by and about others of their own race,” he said. “My former student, Eyeiessa Darville, a graphic design major with a photography concentration, was working on a self-documentary project. I had shown her a number of photographers who worked in this genre, but they seemed to evoke little interest for her. I pulled up the work of Latoya Ruby Frazier on my computer. She stood instantly spellbound with her face inches from the screen.

“It suddenly occurred to me that I had never presented any black photographers to her or my other students. I became aware of how narrow my own education had been and how that negatively impacted what I taught. It was a humbling moment for me.”

Stander set out to change the oversight. Over the last three years, he has made it a point to add a wide array of artists from different races, gender, and backgrounds to build a stronger collection.

“At that point, I could have likely only named a few black photographers: Gordon Parks, and three female artists Latoya Ruby Frazier, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lorna Simpson,” he said. “After that day, I began to seek out both black and Native American photographers to share with my students. I’ve always been a book person, so I began to purchase books for our classes and photography holdings in the library with our student fees.”

While he isn’t finished growing the collection, he believes Minot State is on the right path to having items to inspire future students.

“The books on display include monographs and curated surveys of historical and contemporary work by black photographers, as well as an amazing five-volume Gordon Parks study collection,” Stander said. “It is important for Minot State to have a growing collection like this to encourage and inspire artists of all races.”

Visit the Minot State Gordon B. Olson Library for more on this and other collections.  

Black History Photo Books

  • “VanDerZee: Photographer 1886-1983” – by Deborah Willis
  • “Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present” – by Deborah Willis
  • “Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers” – Brooklyn Museum of Art
  • “Gordon Parks: Collected Works Study Edition (Vol 1-5)” – Gordon Parks
  • “Roy DeCarava: Light Break” – Zoe Whitley
  • “Dewoud Bey: Seeing Deeply” – Dewoud Bey
  • “Teenie Harris, Photographer: Image, Memory, History” – Cheryl Finley
  • “Jamel Shabazz: Sights in the City, New York Street Photographs” – Jamel Shabazz
  • “Back in the Days” – Jamel Shabazz
  • “Black in White America” – Leonard Freed
  • “Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful” – Tanisha C. Ford
  • “Posing Beauty: African American Images from 1890’s to the Present” – Deborah Willis
  • “Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series” – Sarah Lewis
  • “LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Notion of Family” – Dennis Dickerson
  • “Lorna Simpson" – Joan Simon

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 02/20/20   

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