2018 University of South Florida, MFA, Studio Art

Even a Hawk is an Eagle Amongst Crows

2015 – 2017

In Even a Hawk is an Eagle Amongst Crows I have recently been photographing cars, flowers, and landscapes around the world. Both the flower and the car are commodities which are signs of social and economic classes. They also speak of desire and how we identify and communicate with others. Through my expanded photographic production, I use photography and sculpture to create installations that poetically evoke a feeling of mystery in the gallery. The images of crashes, broken windows or failed mechanisms  become a metaphor of a crash of our political and economic situation. I am interested in using the form of photography against photographic truth; I create a rupture  between the form and content. I have begun to photograph flowers as signifiers of specific locations. The titles contextualise these botanical images become the stand in for highly complex political relationships that we often feel we have no control over. In US_Mexico Border the underscore functions visually as a symbolic reference to the relationship between the United States and Mexico at the time this photo was taken. In my practice, I attempt to denature the photographic tropes of amature photographers. I am drawn towards, making images that seem familiar or that reference every other image that has been taken of a subject, but through my own subjective lens, I hope to render the familiar strange again. I want my images to evoke the sense that you have seen them before but somehow everything has changed; like seeing an ex-lover from whom you have moved on.

© William W Douglas III

© William W Douglas III

© William W Douglas III


Why the University of South Florida? 

I was attracted to USF because of its interdisciplinary structure and focus on an individual artists development over a 3-year program. I found the availability to move in and out of different disciplines and ability to study with faculty from all disciplines to be something I wanted out of a grad program. Because of my desire to expand my own photographic practice, I felt it was important to situate myself at an art school that allowed me to have a studio space that reflected that interdisciplinary experimentation and the facilities to allow me to do so. The fellowship opportunities offered by the USF School of Art was a deciding factor over other schools. Also, Tampa, Florida is a fun and affordable city for an emerging artist and the weather is amazing 10 months out of the year.

How has your experience at the University of South Florida informed or shaped Even a Hawk is an Eagle Amongst Crows?

As an artist who doesn’t necessarily work in a serial manner with photography, it is hard to say when a series starts. Some of the images were made closely to me moving to Tampa and have been constantly archived and edited since. The experience at the university has shaped the way I think about and make images, but the largest influence the program has had was on how my images are displayed. The suite of images you are seeing Even a Hawk is an Eagle Amongst Crows lives in many forms. Some of the images are traditionally framed while others are displayed on banners or attached to raw plywood. Studying at USF has helped me situate and contextualize my work within a greater artworld, finding connections between painting, sculpture and installation. My interest in formal qualities blossomed during my time at USF which lead into a serious discussion of material and making in my practice. I could not have done this without the great faculty at the university. We are given so much one on one and group attention and the faculty pushes even the most traditional student to have a dialog with mediums outside of their own discipline.

What kind of exhibition or arts-related job opportunities exist in the area for current students and recent graduates? 

There are a lot of different outlets which you can pursue in the Bay area. Being that USF is both in Tampa and St. Pete we have 3 major museums between the cities the USF Contemporary Art Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art and the MFA St Pete so there is the option of museum positions or possibilities of exhibiting in these spaces. Most of the students graduating find their way into a few local non-profit galleries such as Parallelogram Gallery, Tempus Projects, CunstHaus, and Coco Hunday. Most of the MFA students have the experience of teaching one or more classes at USF as part of their graduate assistantship which sets us up to move forward in academia. Because of this, I find that most of my peers after graduating have the opportunity to teach adjunct  or go on to full time positions. Most graduating MFA students are happy with finding a way to stay in Tampa. There is plenty of work outside of academia as well to help with living cost. Space is inexpensive here so the ability to work and have a nice studio space to make work in is definitely an option after graduating.

What’s the most memorable piece of advice you’ve received from a mentor?

During a studio visit, a mentor pointed to a piece… That looks good, I have seen that before. I smile. The mentor... That’s not a good thing.

Being uncomfortable with what you are making because people do not know how to respond to your work immediately it is a good thing.

This is not a safe space.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to attend the University of South Florida?

I would strongly consider your financial situation when looking at graduate schools, private art schools are very attractive and have name recognition but the funding, space to grow as an artist, individualized attention and ability to gain a graduate education without the burden of massive debt at a public research school like USF is much greater. USF allows the opportunity to stay connected with what is going on in New York and Europe. We take a trip to new york each semester lead by a faculty member and the school offers a study abroad program every summer to Paris, London and Venice. We are only a 4 hour drive from Miami so every year everyone makes their way down to either show, work, or experience Art Basel. USF also has GraphicStudio, which is an international artists’ residency program and atelier that brings today’s most accomplished and influential artists to USF to research and produce editioned work with master printmakers and technicians. Also, I would pay attention to our visiting artist series as well. This has been a huge contribution to expanding my network. Take advantage of people who are here to lecture I have had the opportunity to meet influential artist through this series of such as Amanda Ross-Ho and Clifford Owens just to name a few. In addition to being a strong environment for experimentation the USF art community is very tight knit and supportive. If you are interested in pushing your work conceptually while evolving into a serious maker come to USF.

Where can we keep up with your photo department online?

Also I am excited to be part of #firstdayfirstimage contributed to by many but launched by our faculty member Jason Lazarus.

What other photo programs and/or artists should we be keeping an eye on? 


Marcus DeSieno, Bahareh Khoshooee, Jason Lazarus, Noelle Mason, Leonard Suryajaya, Sara Clarken, Justin Cooper, and Ben Fain are doing things with photographic/image making that I am interested in at the moment.