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Community Highlights: Meet Katherine Ryckman Siegwarth of FotoFocus

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katherine Ryckman Siegwarth as the FotoFocus Biennial Director. 

Hi Katherine, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
FotoFocus was founded in 2010 with the idea of celebrating photography and lens-based art while connecting local, regional, national, and international communities. One of our main programs is the FotoFocus Biennial, which will have its sixth iteration this October. The 2022 FotoFocus Biennial boasts 101 projects at 90 venues, 33 of which are new collaborators, making this the largest Biennial to date: a fitting metric to this year’s Biennial theme, World Record. Not only does FotoFocus produce original exhibitions and develop thoughtful programming and symposia, but we also serve as a granting institution and have awarded over 600 grants to support partners presenting projects and educational programs that are accessible and engaging to the public. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Every exhibition is a unique project with its own nuances. To create or manage twelve FotoFocus curated exhibitions plus coordinate with the over eighty additional venues to create a month-long celebration of photography is an incredible feat. The twelve FotoFocus curated exhibitions feature nearly twenty curators and seventy artists and are showcased at many of Cincinnati’s major institutions, such as the Cincinnati Art Museum, Contemporary Arts Center, the Taft Museum of Art, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, even the Art Academy of Cincinnati, CampSITE Sculpture Park, Michael Lowe Gallery, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and The Carnegie in Covington. 

Admittedly, I am a newer team member to FotoFocus, having joined in December of 2021. However, I previously worked as a Participating Venue to the last three Biennials and was therefore familiar to a degree with what all FotoFocus did to create their Biennials and Symposia. Now on the other side of the curtain, I continue to be amazed at what all this small team achieves: not only does the curatorial team create varied and important exhibitions fitted to each year’s theme, but the team has done an incredible job building and strengthening community partnerships with organizations across the region, helping these venues realize their own projects. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about FotoFocus?
FotoFocus is in a moment of growth: not only is this our largest Biennial to date, we also recently announced plans to build the FotoFocus Center: a nearly 15,000-square-foot building dedicated to photography and lens-based exhibitions and related programming. It is set to open in early 2024 and hopefully will host one of our signature Biennial exhibitions that fall. 

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
While new to Cincinnati—having grown up in Arizona—I do have ties to Ohio. My grandmother, Marie Ryckman, was the Food & Travel Editor for the Cincinnati Enquirer for 15 years! I’m looking forward to further exploring the city, its parks, and trails, as well as building on FotoFocus’ connections throughout the region as we start to look forward towards future Biennials. 

Since moving to Ohio in 2014, I have always made sure to attend FotoFocus events because they are thoughtful, engaging, and you can feel your neurons firing. FotoFocus programming is a great way to connect with like-minded people, learn new things, and see new perspectives. 

Contact Info:

  • Instagram: @FotoFocusCincinnati
  • Facebook: @FotoFocusCincinnati

Image Credits:
FotoFocus Center building rendering prepared by JOSE GARCIA DESIGN + CONSTRUCTION, courtesy FotoFocus

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