2015 Photography Now Purchase Prize



The Center for Photography at Woodstock is pleased to announce that the 2015 PHOTOGRAPHY NOW Purchase Prize has been awarded to Morgan Ashcom for his photograph, Untitled (Leviathan #10), 2010  from his series Leviathan.

This acquisition marks the first acquisition of Mr. Ashcom’s work by a public collection.

As a teenager, I couldn’t wait to escape the farm where I grew up. I traveled with friends to cities and towns with no plan and very little money, making our way as we went; sleeping in cars, on a stranger’s floor or pooling money for a hotel room. Those experiences stayed with me, and my desire to understand them drew me back to that life of escape, or some precise analogue thereof, years later to make photographs.

About the images in his series Leviathan, Ashcom shares The photographs in Leviathan follow my experience of dislocation at a remote community in Ohio. Inadvertently, I had found myself on another farm; a warped doppelgänger of the one I had known growing up. Things seemed slightly altered of their identity and with this as my guide, I stepped away from a presumed knowledge of where I was. I followed aquatic themes emerging in my photographs, recalling stories of escape and confrontation with the unknowable on the sea; Ishmael’s flight from New York City aboard the Pequod or Jonah’s attempt to escape God’s will by boarding a ship bound for the far off land of Tarshish.

Sometimes places of disparate cultures and geographies are linked. This connection lies beneath the surface, and its meaning is ambiguous. Even the Appalachian mountains looming around me got their name from the Native American word “apala,” or “great ocean.” The sequence of photographs in Leviathan suggests a subjective narrative where these worlds have converged.

Morgan Ashcom, "Untitled (Leviathan #10), 2012 ,20x16", edition 2 of 8

Morgan Ashcom, “Untitled (Leviathan #10), 2012 ,20×16”, Edition 2 of 8, Archival Pigment Print


Born in 1982 and raised on a farm in rural Virginia, Morgan Ashcom is an artist and educator currently based in New York City.  In 2013 he received his MFA from the International Limited Residency MFA Photography program at the Hartford Art School. This past summer, the Phoenix Museum of Art included a book moquette for his project Leviathan in an exhibition on contemporary artist books. The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University later shortlisted Leviathan for the Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. In 2014 he began an exciting collaboration with Peperoni Books in Berlin to publish Leviathan in 2015. He has exhibited his work at the Center for Contemporary Arts, in Santa Fe, the Houston Center for Photography, 25CPW in NYC, Joseloff Gallery in Hartford, CT, Kominek Gallery in Berlin, and the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia. His work has won numerous awards including 1st place in Center’s Choice Awards in 2014. He has been a guest lecturer at the University of Hartford, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, and the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies. This fall Morgan will start at Cornell University as a Visiting Lecturer where he will teach Introduction to Photography. To view more of his work visit his website.

PHOTOGRAPHY NOW 2015 was juried by David Bram and was on view from April 18 through June 14, 2015.

About the PHOTOGRAPHY NOW Purchase Prize
Established in 2001 and in keeping with CPW’s mission,  the PHOTOGRAPHY NOW Purchase Prize is awarded each year to an artist whose work was selected for inclusion by a guest juror for CPW’s annual PHOTOGRAPHY NOW exhibition. One artwork is selected by CPW’s Director and purchased for inclusion in CPW’s Print Collection. The recognition often marks the first public collection to acquire the artist’s work. Previous PHOTOGRAPHY NOW Purchase Prize recipients include Thomas Jackson, Ilona Szwarc, Lucas Foglia, Motohiro Tekada, Chad Hunt, Caitlin Atkinson,  Margarida Correia, Bill Armstrong, Catherine Day, and Chloë Pottter.

About CPW’s Print Collection
The Center for Photography at Woodstock’s collection includes works by Ruth Bernhard, Elinor Carucci, John Dugdale, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Robert Heinecken, Andrea Modica, David Maisel, Stephen Shore, and Xaviera Simmons, among others. The collection, which includes over 1,700 photographs and photo-based works, is held on extended loan at the Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz. CPW is part of the Hudson Valley Visual Arts Collection Consoritium (HVVACC) which works to increase access and appreciation of public visual art collections held in New York’s Hudson Valley. To learn more about CPW’s collection, click here.