Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 9-1-2016

Embargo Period


Event Date

September 19, 2016; October 17, 2016; November 14, 2016


MDOCS, Documentary, Storytelling, Event, Portrait, Biography, Erika Schielke, Daesha Devon Harris, Adam Hall, Fall, 2016


When documentarians focus on a single subject-- a person, a research project, a community, an event-- they develop an individual or collective story from up close. These cases may illuminate a moment or a lifetime, the personal or professional, defeat or success, the interior or exterior journey taken by the subject. How do documentarians make such cases compelling, resonant and relevant? What are the building blocks that take the subject to story? How does the singular become the universal?

In Fall 2016, MDOCS presents a mini-series in which area practitioners engage with portraiture and biography in documentary work. One Monday each month (9/19, 10/17 & 11/14), creators working with photography, audio, and film will visit Skidmore to discuss their storytelling in the chosen medium, considering (among other things) the research, interpretation, and ethical considerations that contribute to representing someone else's story through their own individual vision.

September 19, 2016 - Wilson Chapel

Erika Schielke, Podcast Portraits of Environmental Fieldwork in the Adirondacks

Science can help explain the world around us and develop solutions to our most daunting problems. Documentary work often profiles leading scientists and important topics to bring that explanation to the general public. During this Doc Date, biologist and Skidmore faculty member Erika Schielke offers a portrait of the fieldwork that goes into scientific research in selections from a podcast series-in-progress, Science Shotrs. on regional environmental topics. Similar to NPR storytellers whose features combine narration, interviews with experts, and natural sound, Schielke draws on research from her course, Ecology of the Adirondacks, an outgrowth of her work on regional environmental challenges to connect to scientists working on moose life, snake populations, and the impact of road salt on local water sources.

October 17, 2016 - Emerson Auditorium

Daesha Devón Harris, Through a native lens: Portraiture, social documentary and narrative in Saratoga

Daesha Devón Harris, a Saratoga Springs native and documentary photographer, creates powerful multimedia pieces that speak to social issues in a creative and compelling way. The photos depict subjects not as victims, nstead showing them in a light of determination that illuminates Daesha's relentless optimism. Harris discusses her practice, which includes individual and collective portraits of African-American and other often-unrecognized communities in Saratoga Springs, and use of archival and historical research and images.

Harris' earliest mentor was her Great Uncle Joseph Daniels, a self taught artist and accomplished painter from whom she received painting instruction as s young child. She holds a BFA in Studio Art from the College of Saint Rose where she studied under the late Karene Faul- iconic artist and educator. Daesha earned her MFA in Visual Art from The University at Buffalo and has won several NYS artist grants. She is an award winning artist who has been featured in numerous exhibitions across New York State as well in Philadelphia, PA, Louisville, CO, and beyond. She plays an active role in her community as a youth advocate and cultural history preservationist. Her MFA show, and yet must Promise Land, and 2011 show at the National Museum of Dance, I've Got a Home: Inside a Community of Color, draw attention to African-American youths and affected by gentrification. (text adapted from the Underground Railroad History project)

Presentation moderated by photographer Robert ParkeHarrison, Department of Art, Skidmore College.

November 14, 2016 - Emerson Auditorium

Adam Hall, Offset (film): A life blurred and re-envisioned

Join filmmaker Adam Hall for a special screening of his feature documentary film, Offset: Seeing Beauty Through a Brain Injury (2015), a portrait of a photographer who reimagined his practice. Weaving life story and observation, Hall will discuss biography and portraiture in documentary filmmaking in a Q&A following the film.

Synopsis After a catastrophic brain injury, renowned fashion photographer Brian Nice is confined to his childhood home. But when his health insurance no longer covers physical therapy sessions, Nice embarks on a cross-country road trip that tests his physical and emotional limits. Taking his camera with him, he photographs the American landscape, capturing the way he now sees the world.

Director Adam Hall will be at this event for a Q&A after the screening.

Presentation moderated by Nicky Tavares, Mellon Fellow, MDOCS and Visualization Forum