LOGAN – Fazila Soukhakian, associate professor of photography in the Department of Art + Design in the Caine College of the Arts, has been named to the 2022 Photolucida Critical Mass Top 50.
Critical Mass is an annual online program that makes connections within the photography community. Photographers at any level, from anywhere in the world, submit a portfolio of 10 images. Through a pre-screening process, the field is narrowed to a group of 200 finalists who go on to have their work viewed and voted on by more than 200 esteemed international photography professionals. From the finalist group, the Top 50 are named and a series of awards are given.
This marks the second year in a row that USU photography faculty have been recognized. Head of the Department of Art + Design Kathy Puzey said professor Jared Ragland was named to the Top 50 in 2021 and received the Critical Mass Gifted Book Award.
Soukhakian’s artist statement talks about how she grew up in Iran, a country that still punishes the LGBTQ+ community with the death penalty. She has witnessed tremendous struggles of friends and relatives dealing with discrimination and fear and was surprised to find some of the same struggles and challenges of discrimination and suppression among the LGBTQ+ community after moving to America.
Soukhakian started the Queer in Utah project in 2019. The project aims to help normalize the LGBTQ+ community in the conservative setting of Utah by portraying these couples in affectionate poses in a local outdoor setting, similar to the dominant imagery found framed in the households of heterosexual couples.
Puzey said Soukhakian’s recognition signifies faculty’s impact in their respective disciplines and represents the importance of their research.
“The significance of having students see their professors actively engaged with their research cannot be understated,” Puzey said. “Showing them the work ethic and commitment required to succeed in their disciplines helps them prepare for their future careers.”
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