An Andover native is making a name for himself with his photography.
The Naples Art Association awarded $5,000 to Washington D.C. photographer Jon Malis, 27, naming him the winner of the second annual Camera USA: National Photography Exhibition and Award 2012. His artwork, Specimen 66, along with 47 additional photographs by artists from across the country is on view through Aug. 10, 2012 at The von Liebig Art Center in Naples, Fla.
The association reported that Juror Bradly Treadaway selected the winner of this exhibition by going with his instinct, praising Malis as a photographer, “who, instead of filling in the margins of our history books, is choosing to turn the page and help write a new chapter in photography.”
Originally from Andover, and a former photography intern at the Andover Townsman, Malis has been living in Washington D.C. since 2003, excluding a year in Columbus, Ohio.
“I first got into photography when I was 6 years old in Andover. I won a camera in the local camera store’s summer raffle. It was a little red block of plastic (the kind where you load the film, press a button, wind it up and you have no control over anything else in the equation), but it was enough to get me started. This was right around the time my father started heavy travel for his job, so in the summers, we’d travel through Europe, and I’d be snapping away,” he said. “But I think the seed was planted long before that. My mom, in the early ‘80s, was the PR/communications director for the Massachusetts Art Council, and before that, the Boston Ballet, so art’s something I always grew up with and was exposed to from before I was born.
“I didn’t take my first actual photography class until high school, and then I kind of fell in to art classes my freshman year in college - undergrad at The George Washington University - through a lucky draw of my inability to register for classes in my originally-intended major (international relations and political science), and then by the first semester of my sophomore year I’d declared as a studio art/photography major,” according to Malis.
Malis is a member of the adjunct faculty at the American University’s school of communication/film and media arts. His prize-winning artwork is part of a larger body of work, reMind, which was inspired during research for documentary he and a team of American University filmmakers and anthropologists are producing. It is based on scientific specimens of brain tissue produced during the 1900s by Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, a psychiatric hospital operated by the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health. It was the first large-scale, federally run psychiatric hospital in the United States. Malis found glass-plate slides of brain tissue among the stored artifacts at the hospital and felt the vibrations of a new artistic idea.
“At the time, most of my personal work had to deal with personal investigations into my own memories, and I saw these as a perfect way to start examining the processes of memory and abstract interpretation outside my own personal experiences,” Malis said in a release.
Calling himself a “recovering newspaper photojournalist,” Malis reports that he works as an artist, filmmaker, cinematographer, sometimes professor, and commercial/editorial photographer. He owns a digital printing studio, TUBE Studio.
The Naples Art Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded in 1954. It says its goal is to educate and promote visual arts in Southwest Florida through classes and exhibitions for adults and children. Today, the organization includes more than 1,000 members and operates The von Liebig Art Center, located at 585 Park St. in downtown Naples.