Mike Kolster Awarded 2008 Karofsky Prize

Story posted May 08, 2008

Assistant Professor of Art Michael J. Kolster has been named the recipient of the 2008 Sydney B. Karofsky Prize for Junior Faculty. The award was announced at the College's Honor's Day ceremony on May 7, 2008.

Mike Kolster
Michael Kolster

Kolster is an innovative photographer who has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions in San Francisco, Boston and Portland. An inspiring teacher, Kolster asks students to look at the world and examine how their perceptions of it are formed. He has been seminal in bringing digital and large-format photography to the forefront of Bowdoin's photography offerings and is a frequent collaborator with other faculty across disciplines.

"Receiving this prize is so wonderful for me personally," said Kolster. "I am honored to be a part of such a dedicated and talented faculty, one that values excellence in teaching and believes strongly that its research fuels a vibrant classroom experience for the students. Furthermore, I love how this year's prize affirms the role that visual arts and photography play in the intellectual life of the College."

Kolster's ongoing sense of discovery informs his work. His photographs illuminate a fascination for the serendipities of the physical environment, which he says is inspired, in part, by Heraclitus's observation that one "cannot step twice into the same stream."

He shares this philosophy to a worldwide audience through his popular Web-based photographic gallery, The Daily Post, which is a daily, ongoing photographic blog begun on March 27, 2002. To date, it contains over 2,200 images taken from the stream of Kolster's daily wanderings.

"Dwell," a recent solo exhibition of his black-and-white works at Brunswick's ICON Contemporary Art, features multiple-image panoramics from Kolster's long-term studies of Las Vegas, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The photographs depict tension between the natural and built worlds in these cities that are shaped by both geographic pressures and human occupation. They explore the post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans, the rapid growth of a city in the desert, and the everyday look of streets in a city residing on an active seismic fault. View gallery of Kolster's current projects.

"Photography has its own wonderful paradoxes, its own deep and interesting questions," notes Kolster. "What sort of assumptions do we bring to our everyday experience of looking? When you take pictures you have an opportunity to examine what it is in the world you choose to notice. Our choices beg an examination of their meanings, both personal and to society as a whole. But, as we know, things within and outside of each of us are in a constant flux, so our experience is always a process of discovery."

Kolster earned his B.A. from Williams College, his M.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art, and studied at the International Center of Photography in New York City.

The Karofsky Prize is given by members of the Karofsky family, including Peter S. Karofsky, M.D. '62, Paul I. Karofsky '66, and David M. Karofsky '93, to honor distinction in teaching by untenured members of the faculty.

It is among the College' most prestigious honors and is awarded annually on the basis of student evaluation of teach to "an outstanding Bowdoin teacher who best demonstrates the ability to impart knowledge, inspire enthusiasm, and stimulate intellectual curiosity."

It is conferred by the Dean for Academic Affairs in consultation with the Committee on Appointments, Promotion and Tenure.

Former Karofsky Prize winners have included Charles Dorn, 2007; Matthew Klingle, 2006; Katherine Dauge-Roth, 2005; Arielle Saiber, 2004; Rachel Beane, 2003; Marc Hetherington, 2002; Takeyoshi Nishiuchi, 2001; and Nancy Jennings, 2000.


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