Professor shortlisted for photography prize

University of Indianapolis Professor of Digital Photography Sarah Pfohl does not have a hard time sticking out when compared against a group of people, according to Art & Design Department Chair and Professor of Art & Design James Viewegh. 

“When she applied for the position… there was almost 100 applicants for the job and I mean it, she stood out immediately,” Viewegh said.

Pfohl went on to stand out again for her work when she was shortlisted for the 2019 Palm* Photo Prize earlier this year. There were 3,860 total submissions for the international photo prize and only 104 submissions made the shortlist, with one of those images being from Pfohl, according to UIndy Intercom. Pfohl said the competition focuses on strong, standalone images for the submission.

Pfohl said she was surprised when she found out she made the shortlist, but Viewegh said he wasn’t surprised at all that she made the list. According to Pfohl, she first got into photography 20 years ago and has been in love with it ever since.

Although this specific prize was not a goal of hers, sharing her work with others always has been, Pfohl said.

“Sharing my work with a more broad public, especially internationally, is definitely important for me so that I can connect with different opportunities to share my work and different folks who might be interested in it,” Pfohl said. 

The specific piece that was selected is part of a bigger project that she has been working on since 2012, Pfohl said. She said that she hopes to have it published in a book when the project is finished. In terms of numbers,  Pfohl said, this is her biggest accomplishment, but the piece was not the thing that she was most proud of in her career.

PFOHL

“I think that we don’t necessarily live in a world where there are a ton of opportunities to make art what you do all day, every day and my biggest accomplishment is being able to centralize art in my life as much as I do now,” Pfohl said.

Being named to this list not only helps Pfohl’s career, but the photography program at UIndy, Viewegh said.

“[Pfohl being named] shows that our program here at UIndy, the photography program in particular, is very successful and has highly skilled people teaching it,” Viewegh said. 

Pfohl said she not only loves making art, but that she also has a love for teaching it. 

“It means everything to me,” Pfohl said. “I don’t just teach because it’s a thing I feel like I have to do, I really love teaching and I really love being an artist and the two practices making art and teaching form and inform one another. So my students inspire me, and hopefully, I inspire them.”

Her care for the students and the Department of Art & Design in general does not go unnoticed by the people working alongside her, according to Viewegh.

“She’s extremely knowledgeable, as far as photography goes, and is an extremely hardworking member of this department, who is very conscious about the students, about the curriculum,[and] how to make the department successful,” Viewegh said.