A photographer with a distinct sociological bent, Jen Kodis has been working on a project that touches on themes of community, class, and education. Functioning somewhere between participant and observer, Kodis has been photographing adult education classes, community functions, and other groups sharing common interests. Almost as if she were studying animal behavior, seemingly mundane scenes become odd arrangements-leading one to wonder who is really being watched and studied. Whether it is a windsurfing demonstration or a CPR certification, her unique sensibility comes through in her studied treatment of her subjects and offbeat structured compositions. A man balancing on a pedestal in order to practice his skydiving, for example, seems straight out of a lost Muybridge motion study or an eccentric 19th century health manual.

Since graduating from RISD with a BFA in 2000, she has assisted photographer Henry Horenstein and worked at a community learning center. Recently, she started managing cases for Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island. Kodis has exhibited at the Danforth Museum of Art's New England Photographers and The Copley Society's biennial Manifest as well as nationally juried shows at Philadelphia's Print Center and Kansas City's Society of Contemporary Photography.

Click here for Kodis's web site


Matthew Gamber
August 2004

Mariliana Arvelo
July 2004

Ken Richardson

June 2004

Julie Melton

May 2004

Marlo Marrero

April 2004

Erik Gould
March 2004

Mori Insinger
February 2004

Jen Kodis

January 2004

Amber Davis
December 2003

Paul Taggart

November 2003

Marla Sweeney
October 2003

Dylan Vitone
September 2003

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about the Northeast Exposure.

Selections from Inhabitants

Panic sets in as I realize that the "share something about yourself" comment card is actually about to be read out loud. Why did I feel compelled to brag about my less than heroic rescue of a baby squirrel, who found his way into my workplace, and later my apartment. It didn't occur to me that it would be satisfactory to let people know that my favorite color was blue, or that I liked chocolate, or some other non-committal, less attention-grabbing bit of trivia.


In August of 2001, I found myself in Syracuse, New York for a pre-service orientation for the Americorps program. This meant three full days of bright fluorescent lights, over-air-conditioned conference rooms, and endless PowerPoint presentations that could be interrupted only by the discovery of a new trust-building game.

If there is one redeeming feature of the multi-day conference it's the evenings spent in the hotel lobby. I relished this time alone in the lobby of the Hotel Syracuse, hiding behind the barrier of my book, yet somehow feeling like I was at the center of something. I'd be sitting in the lobby at 10:00 PM when the other Rhode Island do-gooders left in search of an elusive Syracuse nightlife. And I'd be there at 7:00 AM when various groups of groggy-eyed conventioners filed into their appropriate banquet halls for cantaloupe and bagels.

Watching people, while just on the edge of their own circle, is not something that is new to me. I have a long history of gathering extraneous information about people I hardly know. As a child, Friday night dinners out would result in notebooks filled with seemingly important information detailing conversations, physical characteristics, and the culinary decisions of our neighboring tables. There is a woman and a man. The woman has glasses and curly gray hair. The 2 girls look about 12. They are ordering from the adult menu. Being quiet, I have unintentionally opened myself up, not only to the curious tribulations of perfect strangers, but also to the mundane details of their lives.

Photographing classes, training sessions, and community events has granted me a coveted space within the group, one that is separate, and free from all social demands. I have the right to be there, but I don't have to worry about where I'll sit at lunch, or who my partner will be for rescue breathing. I am interested in the isolation that exists, even within a group that is based on common interests. There is a struggle between control and choice, or the group and the individual, which often leaves subjects isolated within their personal spaces and their favorite activities. An invisible barrier, or a breakdown of communication, leaves subjects stuck somewhere in between the group and the individual.

In looking at education and Community Ed. classes, I am less interested in individual people or particular classes, but rather, a sense of anonymity, where each class becomes a forum for examining group dynamics, regardless of what is being taught. People appear isolated, yet they are irrevocably tied to each other as they strive for similar, if not identical, goals. As students, we are very obedient, and this obedience is not something that ends at the classroom door. If we are so eager to stretch in unison on a tennis court, or to climb an indoor wall covered with brightly colored rocks and ledges, or to crouch to examine animal droppings upon command, it is not surprising that this compliancy seeps into every aspect of our lives. But there is a comfort in never having to choose. The answers will be given to us before we can ask.

- Jen Kodis, December 2003