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Past SPE Annual Conferences

Midwest Chapter | Conferences

SPE Midwest Chapter includes:
Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Chair Rob Dickes
Vice Chair/Secretary Heather Stratton
Treasurer Joseph Mougel
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Past Conferences


Photographic Theory, Practice, and Pedagogy for the Future

- Virtual, Conference   |   October 01 - October 03, 2020

Over the past several months, we have watched the world shift in dramatic and significant ways -  the call to action resonating louder than ever.  What role does the image-maker and photographic educator play in shaping the new normal?  How do we as photographic artists make work during an era of social injustice, global health insecurities, and political discord? Our resolve and determination as artists and educators are being put to the test like never before.

The Midwest SPE Chapter is proud to present the following speakers as part of the Fall Virtual Conference: 

Thursday, October 1st 6:00PM CT Women's Environmental Workshare Collective - Round Table 

Dana Fritz, Margaret LeJeune, Judy Natal, Marion Belanger, Martina Shenal, Terri Warpinski

Friday, October 2nd 3PM CT When Art Requires Activism - Imagemaker Presentation

Morgan Barrie

Friday, October 2nd 4PM CT Meddling with Space: Four Narratives - Dialogic Panel

Stefan Petranek, Amanda Musick, Hugo Teixeira, Jacinda Russell

Friday, October 2nd 5:30PM CT Keynote Address with Brent Lewis

Photo Editor, The New York Times and Co-Founder, Diversity Photo

Saturday, October 3rd 10AM CT Student Portfolio Reviews

15 minute student portfolio reviews (sign-up and scheduling TBA)

Saturday, October 3rd 11:30AM CT Midwest SPE Members Meeting 

Chair: Robert Dickes, Vice-Chair: Heather Stratton, Treasurer: Joseph Mougel

Saturday, October 3rd 1PM CT Student Imagemaker Presentations - Dialogic

Brian Garbrecht, Lily Guillen, Martin Krafft

Saturday, October 3rd 2PM CT Innovative Teaching Panel - Teaching and Learning

Shreepad Joglekar, Elise Kirk

Saturday, October 3rd 3:15PM CT Worlds That Don't Require Escape: Archive and Image as Transportation

Ricky Weaver, Avery Williamson

Saturday, October 3rd 4:30PM CT New Paths - Imagemaker

Kalee Appleton

Saturday, October 3rd 5PM CT Closing Conversation

All are welcome to attend this open session for discussion, networking, and idea sharing


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Communities, Collaborations and Collectives

Saint Kate - Milwaukee, Wisconsin   |   October 25 - October 27, 2019

Ours is a time of increasing political, cultural, and economic division.  While the impulse to turn inward and interact with only those of like minds is strong, the creative class has every opportunity to resist that urge by bridging divides, building community, and bringing visibility to voices and efforts that are working to strengthen our shared visions for the future.  Creative collaborations and artist collectives help to provide effective and sustainable models for building sound structures that serve to unify our regional, national, and global populations of varying needs and perspectives. This year's theme is an opportunity to think beyond the needs of the individual maker, gesture, or venue, in an effort to promote shared agency in utilizing the photographic medium as a tool for unifying group interests, bringing voice to underrepresented communities, and communicating the experiences of those on all sides of the divide.



Category 1 - Can offer thoughtful critique of images and context, share ideas, discuss portfolio or project development, provide information regarding career strategy or recruitment.

Category 2 - Can offer exhibition opportunities, residencies, grants, as well as portfolio opportunities, professional networking, idea sharing and establishment life-long connections.


Aimée Beaubien (1), Jan Christian Bernabe (1&2), Brennan Booker (1&2), Kelli Connell (1&2), Eli Craven (1), Rachel Cox (1), Jeanne Donegan (1&2), Elizabeth Flinsch (1&2), Dana Fritz (1&2), Larry Gawel (2), Grant Gill (1), Abbey Hepner (1), David Johnson (1), Tomiko Jones and Darcy Padilla (1), Colleen Keihm (1), Elise Kirk (1), Margaret LeJeune (1&2), Shana McCaw (1&2), Noritaka Minami (2), Joseph Mougel (1), Jennifer Murray (1&2), Ariel Pate (1), Maureen Ragalie (2), Christopher Schneberger (1&2), Kyle Seis (2), Christine Shank (1), John Sobczak (1), Jordan Tate (1), Rana Young (1), Naomi Shersty (2)

To see portfolio review schedule and reviewers bio, click here.

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School of Art & Visual Studies at the University of Kentucky - Lexington, KY   |   November 01 - November 04, 2018

Photography mediates the world. Artists continue to challenge and expand the possibilities of what can be expressed through this medium. How can we see what cannot be seen? How can we represent that which has not been represented? And how can we expand the ability of the lens-based arts to articulate what we care most about?  Medium is an opportunity to think about the role of the artist and how we might challenge and expand our ideas about what lens-based arts look like and what they can accomplish.

Join us in Lexington, Kentucky for a weekend full of image maker presentations, panel discussions, portfolio sharing, workshops and more!

Keynote, Honored and Invited Speakers include Genevieve Gaignard, Roger Ballen, Gerald Slota and James Nakagawa!

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Developing Spaces/Places

Embassy Suites by Hilton East Peoria Riverfront Hotel & Conference Center - East Peoria, IL   |   October 12 - October 15, 2017

We are excited to host this year's Midwest SPE Chapter Conference! Located in the geographic center of our SPE region, we look forward to seeing members from every state in the Midwest come out in full force to Peoria, Illinois. The bulk of the programming will take place at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria. Exhibitions and receptions will take place across Peoria including at the Bradley University Galleries, Illinois Central College, Peoria Riverfront Museum, Contemporary Art Center, Prairie Center of the Arts, and Peoria Library Downtown. Hands-on workshops will be given throughout the weekend at Bradley University's Heuser Art Center. Featured speakers and exhibitions at Developing Spaces/Places include Guggenheim-award winners Penelope Umbrico, David Taylor, Wendel White, William Fox, and esteemed 2017 Midwest Regional Honored Educator Judy Natal.

Schedule of Speakers

Check out our schedule of amazing presentations -- invited speakers, imagemakers, lectures, and workshops -- at conference details.

Bridge SPE Membership

Are you a recent photo grad? Register for the conference through the new Bridge SPE membership level to help individuals who have graduated from a degree program within the last two years and/or currently seek employment opportunities to stay professionally engaged.

Free Workshops

Are you looking for a new process to bring back to your school? We're incredibly excited that our free alternative process workshops are quickly filling up! Slots for these workshops are limited and pre-registration is required. Because of limited availability, please only register for one. Check out:

Portfolio Reviews

Share your work through one-on-one professional and student portfolio reviews. Slots for reviews are limited and pre-registration is required.

Confirmed reviewers for professionals:

MWSPE Juried Members Exhibition

This juried show will highlight the unique environmental and cultural character of the Midwest in its diverse expression, cultural insight, and experimental practice. The exhibition will take place at the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) in Peoria, Illinois. The CAC is a non-profit, 14,000-square-foot facility on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a renovated warehouse located in Peoria's Riverfront district. Jurors: Marivi Ortiz and Marico Fayre.

MWSPE Juried Student Members Exhibition

The Juried Student Members Exhibition will be held at the Peoria Public Library and Project 1612 in Peoria, IL. The exhibition, part of the 2017 Midwest SPE conference and the PRN Wild and Scenic Film Festival, is a collaboration geared to draw attention to contemporary water issues. Thank you to our esteemed jurors, Carol Hayes, executive director of Prairie Rivers Network, and artist Alexander Martin. 

Special thanks to:

Bradley University, Illinois State University School of Art, Jacob and Lorrie Bunn, Peoria Riverfront Museum, Contemporary Art Center, Peoria Public Library, Illinois Central College, Prairie Center of the Arts, Bradley University Parent's Association, Bradley University Intellectual and Cultural Activities Committee, Bradley University Instructional Technology and Media Services, Bostick and Sullivan, Roberts Camera, and Hasselblad Bron.

Thank you to all our new and current SPE members!

2017 Conference Co-Chairs

Margaret LeJeune, Bradley University

Jason Reblando, Illinois State University

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Conflict Resolution

Midwest Regional Conference

The Chase Park Plaza - St. Louis , Missouri   |   October 06 - October 09, 2016

Mark your calendar! "Conflict Resolution" MWSPE kicks off on October 6th, and you're invited to take part in the festivities. Come one, come all, spread the word, and head to STL.

The theme of this conference is "Conflict Resolution" looking at the role of photography and art in documenting, analyzing and interpreting confrontation and struggle from an individual, regional, national and global perspective. The theme originated from the August 9th 2014 death of Michael Brown, Jr. in nearby Ferguson and the conversations and community engagement that has developed since. Our goal is to bring speakers with immense impact. We set out to create a one-of-a-kind experience devoted what is happening right before our eyes and cameras as witnesses. This weekend will be an event which is actively engaged, presenting new context to/from our students and membership.

Registration Extended to October 1

Please join us for Conflict Resolution, a conference of the Midwest Regional Society for Photographic Education, taking place October 6-8 in St. Louis, Missouri. Conference registration ends October 1st and please note there will be no registration on site. We are thrilled to host what is sure to be a phenomenal time together.

This year's conference will focus on the role of photography and art in documenting, analyzing, and interpreting confrontation and struggle from individual, regional, and global perspectives. Featuring the dynamic voices of Dr. Deborah Willis, An-My Lê, Jess Dugan, Nate Larson, Adrian Walker, Nicole Hudson and many others, the theme originated from the conversations and community engagement that have continued since the death of Michael Brown Jr. in nearby Ferguson on August 9th, 2014. By bringing together speakers of immense impact with our students and membership, we hope to create a one-of-a-kind experience devoted to what is being witnessed by both our eyes and our cameras.

Student Volunteer Requests

The conference planning committee for Conflict Resolution the MWSPE conference in St. Louis is seeking student volunteers for the conference. Each shift will be three hours per day and would allow the students to attend the conference for free with a comp code for registration. Tasks for volunteer students range from, but not limited to watching the doors during lectures, working registration, overseeing juried book showcase or helping with A/V. If you are interested in volunteering consult the conference schedule and email with "Student Volunteer Request" in the subject line; within the body of the email, please request times that you are available to work. Student Volunteer spaces are limited and are first come first serve basis. You will be notified by September 29th if your request is accepted and given a comped registration code that should be used by October 1st midnight.

Print Study Room Reservations

On Thursday before the conference gets started The Print Study Room at the Saint Louis Art Museum will host a pop-up exhibition featuring selected photographic works from museum's collection including works by: Keynote speaker An-My Le, Danny Lyons, Carrie Mae Weems, Dorothea Lange and many more. The artwork selected will correspond with the conference's theme Conflict Resolution. This show is organized by Gina Grafos, David Johnson, and Eric Lutz.

Since this is a very intimate viewing space with over 20 works of art and in accordance with museum security protocol viewing sessions are is limited to 15 people for 30 minutes. We will have viewing sessions from 2:00 to 2:30 pm, 2:30 to 3:00 pm, and 3:00 to 3:30 pm. To sign up, please email with "Print Study Room" in the subject and your preferred time slots, this is first come first serve; you will be notified of your reservation by Sunday, October 2nd.

Student Portfolio Group Critique -

Students will be able to sign up for Student Portfolio Critique Groups at the registration table on Thursday and Friday. Each table will be limited to 3 to 5 students per table. This will be first come first serve and will include waitlists.

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Throwing Light, Catching Shadows

The Seelbach Hilton - Louisville, KY   |   October 01 - October 04, 2015

The University of Louisville's Hite Art Institute is pleased to host "Throwing Light, Catching Shadows," the 2015 Society for Photographic Education's Midwest Regional Conference. Celebrating innovation, this conference will explore the intersections among various historic and contemporary photographic methods.

Diverse approaches including alternative processes and digital projections will be addressed to examine the spectrum of photographic experiences that connect public and private spaces.

The featured speakers would not be possible without the collaborative partnerships of Bellarmine University, Indiana University Southeast, The Kentucky College of Art and Design at Spalding University with the University of Louisville.

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Yesterday Today

Photography and the Archive

University of Wisconsin - Madison Campus - Madison, Wisconsin   |   October 16 - October 18, 2014

Over the course of the last 10 years the use of the archive within contemporary photographic and artistic practice has grown continually. Bolstered by the proliferation of new digital tools alongside the rapid development of access and transmission that they enable, artists and educators have increasingly turned to the past not only for inspiration or research but also as source of raw materials and conceptual parameters. Alongside these new approaches archives continue to be important sites for the discovery of obscured or orphaned images that are subsequently deployed to enrich the social and historical understanding of the medium.

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Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Madison - Lincoln, Nebraska   |   October 24 - October 27, 2013

This conference was well attended considering Lincoln is on the western edge of the region and not an inexpensive destination for many. Our keynote lecture was open to the public and we estimate that 350 people attended Christian Patterson's lecture on his project Redheaded Peckerwood that focuses on a subject of local interest: the 1958 Nebraska killing spree by Charles Starkweather and Caril Anne Fugate. Our invited speaker, John Pfahl filled the auditorium at the Sheldon Museum of Art and kept everyone in good spirits through projector troubles and gave a thoughtful reflection of his major bodies of work since the 1970's. Honored educator Jeff Curto brought down the house with a lively and wide-ranging talk on his various roles as a teacher and student over the last 30 years. In addition to these, there were 30 other lectures and panels including two by curators at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 3 workshops, 7 exhibitions with receptions, 48 professional portfolio reviews and 102 student portfolio critiques. We were also pleased to provide each registrant with a copy of the venerable photography history book An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Plate to Digital by Keith F. Davis, Senior Curator of Photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. (Summary by Larry Gawel) Conference Chairs: Dana Fritz, Larry Gawel

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Continuum: Photography and Education

- Cincinnati, OH   |   October 11 - October 14, 2012

Continuum: Photography and Education, the 2012 MWSPE regional conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio and co-chaired by Emily Hanako Momohara, Associate Professor of Art, Art Academy of Cincinnati and Tracy LongleyCook, Assistant Professor of Art, Wright State University proved to be a tremendously successful event! Hosted by the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and held at the Hilton Netherlands hotel, the conference welcomed 406 attendees.

The inaugural conference events included the reception and awards ceremony for the juried members exhibition at The Carnegie Center for Visual and Performing Arts. Following was a visit to Northern Kentucky University for a lecture by photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson.

On Friday and Saturday, morning sessions included 19 image-maker presentations, 5 workshops, and 2 education-based panels. Ardine Nelson gave a lecture about her creative career and received the Honored Educator Award. Three students were awarded prizes in the MWSPE Student Exhibition. The afternoon and evenings were spent touring the many photography and lens-based shows around Cincinnati, which were associated with FOTOFOCUS, a biennial celebration of photographic arts in southern Ohio. Notable exhibitions included Doug and Mike Starn's Gravity of Light, Star Power: Edward Steichen's Glamour Photography, and The Architect's Brother: Photogravures by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, among others. (Summary by Emily Hanako Momohara and Tracy Longley-Cook)

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Time For Light

- Kalamazoo, MI   |   September 30 - October 02, 2010

The 2010 Regional SPE Time for Light conference will be a collaborative meditation on the past, present, and future contributions of lens-based media to art, society, and culture. The conference invites imagemakers and theoreticians to examine and share the benefits and consequences of photography to the societies and cultures behind or in front of the lens. So that imagemakers may better understand the past, record the present, and shape the future, the MWSPE Time For Light conference will culminate in the restoration, renewal, and new discoveries of historic and post-historic photographic discourse and practice. As we move forward and look backward, the conference will convene in Kalamazoo to make and take time for light.

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