Nate Larson is a contemporary artist and a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore (since 2009). For the last ten years, he has worked collaboratively as Larson Shindelman, with University of Georgia professor Marni Shindelman.

His projects have been widely shown across the US and internationally, including an upcoming Larson Shindelman commissioned exhibition for the George Eastman Museum (opening January 2019).  Past solo exhibitions include Filter Space Chicago (2016), Arlington Arts Center (2015), the Orlando Museum of Art (2013), Blue Sky Center for Photographic Arts (2012), and the Contemporary Arts Center Las Vegas (2011).

His collaborative work is included in the touring exhibition “State of the Art,” originating at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (2014) and touring to the Telfair Museums (2016), Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2016), Dixon Gallery and Gardens (2017), Frist Center for the Visual Arts (2017), and the Mint Museum (2017). Other recent group exhibitions include the Denver Art Museum (2018), the Zuckerman Museum of Art (2017), Portland Art Museum (2016), Center for Photography at Woodstock (2016), Silver Eye Center for Photography (2015), and Blue Star Contemporary Art Center (2014), among others. 

His projects have been featured in numerous publications and media outlets, including Wired, The Guardian, The Picture Show from NPR, Slate, CNN, Hyperallergic, Gizmodo, Buzzfeed News, Vice Magazine, the New York Times, Utne Reader, Hotshoe Magazine, Flavorwire, the BBC News Viewfinder, Frieze Magazine, the British Journal of Photography, APM’s Marketplace Tech Report, The Washington Post, and Art Papers. He was recently an artist-in-residence at Paul Artspace in St. Louis (2017), CEC Artslink in Russia (2016), and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Florida (2013). 

His artwork is included in the collections of the High Museum Atlanta, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Orlando Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago. Geolocation, his first monograph with Marni Shindelman, was published by Flash Powder Projects in 2016.

Centroid Towns

2014 – present

Centroid Towns is a fine-art documentary project studying the twenty-five cities that have been the mean center of population of the United States using photography, oral history interviews, and local archive research. The project puts a face to statistical data, chronicling these towns and their inhabitants to illuminate the ongoing social and political transformation of America. 

The Centroid, or mean center of population, is described by the U.S. Census Bureau as “the point at which an imaginary, flat, weightless, and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if weights of identical value were placed on it so that each weight represented the location of one person on the date of the census.”  This point is calculated every ten years to accompany the Census, first located in 1790 near Chestertown, Maryland, and moving steadily westward, currently residing near Plato, Missouri. The path of these twenty-five coordinates mirrors the population growth of the nation, following the routes of settlement from the Atlantic to the interior. It also mirrors my personal history, linking my current home in Maryland to my Midwestern roots in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. 

The project is a long-term umbrella that permits me to engage with a range of issues facing the United States today. Most recently, I received the Municipal Arts Society of Baltimore City Artist Travel Prize to work on the next stage of the project this coming June in Indiana, concentrating on the cities of Bloomington and Carlisle. My fieldwork there will focus on the ways these cities have been impacted by immigration and incarceration.

Simulated Window, Moll Funeral Home, Mascoutah, Illinois, 2017 © Nate Larson

Explosion, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, 2017 © Nate Larson 

Gayle in the Flood Plane, Ellicott City, Maryland, 2016 © Nate Larson

Ron at Home, Fenton, Missouri, 2017 © Nate Narson

Memorial Garden at the Bonne Terre Lead Mine, Missouri, 2017 © Nate Larson


Why MICA? 

MICA offers a BFA in Photography and an MFA in Photography and Electronic Media. We also have a strong MFA in Curatorial Practice, low-residency MFA, and an MA in Teaching (MAT is a 4+1 program that includes an undergraduate degree) that complement our photography programs.

My locus is in the BFA photography program, which is around 100 majors at any given time. There are six of us that are full-time faculty, with three part-time faculty members. This ratio of full-time faculty is very important to our program and insures that students get a lot of face time. I think that our faculty, my colleagues, are really dynamite – very invested in the students and very active in our professional practices. Faculty studio practices includes traditional B&W, platinum palladium, social documentary, aerial photography, digital fabrication, fabricated realities, large scale printing, drone photography, and many other components. We’re all very nice people and work well as a team.

Our full-time faculty include: 

And myself, of course, with my sites noted below. 

Our current part-time faculty are:

We also encourage a lot of interdisciplinary experimentation, and BFA photography students frequently complement their photography studies with studio concentrations in Book Arts, Printmaking, Video & Film, Sculpture, or other studio departments. 

We also offer a dual-degree program where students can get a BFA in Photography with a dual major in Humanistic Studies. And students in the MAT program can get their BFA in Photography before getting their Masters in Teaching.

What courses do you teach? 

My locus is in the BFA photography program, so I work most closely with undergraduate photography majors. I also am a studio mentor for the MA in teaching (MAT) and work with graduate students as Teaching Assistants.

In the BFA photography program, I am currently teaching Digital Photography II and Junior Seminar. I also regularly teach Contemporary Directions in Photography, Professional Strategies, Digital Photography I, Senior Thesis, and Expanding the Archive. I have also taught Electronic Media and Culture in our First Year Experience (foundations) program.

How does your program bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary photographic practices? 

Yes. We are firmly committed to the analogue roots of photography while also considering digital and expanding technologies. We still have full B&W and Alt Process analog facilities, as well as state of the art digital facilities. Many of our students explore video and audio production as part of the curriculum. 

Describe the process of output for photographs. 

Our curriculum is primarily focused on the fine print and the majority of critiques are based on printed work, regardless of whether analogue or digital. That said, we do have students pushing the boundaries, making sculptural forms, installations, VR & AR experiences, and other digital formats (Insta feeds, web videos, etc). 

We have three B&W gang labs, an alternative process lab, individual darkrooms for experimental processes, a digital print studio with 17”, 24” and 44” printers, and an overflow print lab with 17” and 24” printers. We also have Flextight scanners for those that choose to work with film and need high end digital translation. And a vinyl cutter. 

We have a dry room, with equipment for mat-cutting, dry mounting darkroom prints, and a cold mounting / laminating press for mounting digital prints. 

We have equipment check-out, affectionately known as the Crib, ranging from Nikon, Canon, and Sony digital equipment and medium and large format film cameras. We also have several medium-format digital cameras, including a Hasselblad that gets used in the Studio Photography course and a Fuji GFX kit that students can check out. We also have location lighting equipment (both strobe and LED kits) available for checkout.

Describe the critique format. 

Critique methodologies vary by professor and class. My critiques happen during class time. While the class is the primary attendees, we frequently have guests and visiting artists/critics. I typically will have the student make a short introduction to establish context for the work, and then open it up to the group conversation. Everyone participates or I will call on them to do so. Observation is important, but I also push them to articulate what could be working better and specific options for improvement. I will sometimes mix up the critique format, with written critiques from one student to another, small group crits, and sometimes one-on-one critiques with me. 

We usually have 5-6 departmental guests a semester, linked with different classes. Many of our visiting artists and critics do portfolio reviews and studio visits with the juniors and seniors.  

Last week, Dawoud Bey was here, and did a workshop with students, portfolio reviews with Seniors, and a public lecture. Next week, we have Connie Imboden coming, and she will do portfolio reviews with Seniors and a public lecture. I have Matthew Moore coming to do midterm critiques with my Junior Seminar course in a couple of weeks. We also had Brian Clamp, Deb Willis, and Shirin Neshat earlier this semester. And all that is just this semester.

Where can we keep up with your photo department online?