2017 John Gutmann Photography Fellowship Recipients

The San Francisco Foundation Names Seely, Muellner, and Plumb Recipients of the 2017 John Gutmann Photography Fellowship

For Immediate Release
Contact: Erin Reynolds, 415.733.8519, ereynolds@sff.org

SAN FRANCISCO – February 16, 2018 – The San Francisco Foundation announced today that Christina Seely of Norwich, VT, Nicholas Muellner of Spencer, NY, and Mimi Plumb of Berkeley, CA are the recipients of the 2017 John Gutmann Photography Fellowship. The annual award is given to emerging artists who exhibit professional accomplishment, serious artistic commitment, and financial need in the field of creative photography.

The prestigious award was established by internationally recognized photographer John Gutmann (1905-1998), who, in addition to founding the department of photography at San Francisco State University, made many significant contributions to photography. The award is administered by The San Francisco Foundation. The award grants $10,000 to Seely to support her photography and $5,000 each to Muellner and Plumb to support the development of their creative work. Eminent photographers and curators Jim Goldberg, Reagan Louie, and Sandra Phillips were this year’s jurors.

“Christina Seely’s work reflects her deep concern with the fragility of the environment and investigates global systemics as a means of helping the public face their relationship with the planet,” said Phillips, Curator Emerita of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She commented that the committee considered Seely’s work “a challenging, thoughtful and unique set of responses to the dynamic environmental changes we now face.”

“I am deeply grateful for this support,” said Seely. “It comes at an ideal moment and will be key in galvanizing my continued work in the Panamanian rainforest and on the Greenland ice sheet for the next phase of my project, Terra Systema.”

The work of Nicholas Muellner investigates the limits of photography as a documentary pursuit and as an interface between literary, political, and emotional narratives via books, exhibitions, and slide lectures. His most recent work, In Most Tides an Island, journeys through shifting tableaux of exile and solitude in the digital age. “I am honored and grateful for the support of the John Gutmann Fellowship. The award will allow me to return to Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea in 2018 to develop a new book project,” said Muellner.

Jim Goldberg, award-winning photographer, said “Muellner has accomplished something exceedingly rare: a perfect hybrid between image and text. His work challenges photographic conventions and combines documentary and fiction into his own distinct style.”

Mimi Plumb was awarded the grant for her long-term portrait project titled “Teen Girls.” Reagan Louie, professor of photography at San Francisco Art Institute, commented that “the award recognized the deeper nuances and complexity of her recent portraits.” He called the work “almost obsessive” and observed that “the best portraits reflect Ms. Plumb’s search for her own lost youth.”

Plumb expressed her gratitude, saying “I am honored and thrilled to receive the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship. The award will help pay for supplies and equipment to continue my photographic project. Thank you to the jurors, and thank you John Gutmann for creating the fellowship.”


About The San Francisco Foundation – With more than $1.4 billion in assets, The San Francisco Foundation is one of the largest community foundations in the country. The foundation is committed to expanding opportunity and ensuring a more equitable future for all in the Bay Area. Together with its donors, the foundation distributed $146 million to nonprofit organizations last fiscal year. The San Francisco Foundation serves Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties.


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