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Assistant Professor of Art Stephan Jacobs Documents Land, Culture, Politics, and Economy in Latvia

“Let’s call it ‘Full Circle,'” Stephan Jacobs, an Assistant Professor of Art at Emmanuel, said when Brian Littlefield, another Assistant Professor of Art, inquired about the title.

“Really?” Littlefield said.

The title makes sense though, regarding the two-part photography installment currently on display on the fifth floor of the Administration building. Jacobs spent the summer of 2013 in Riga, Latvia working on the first part, and the summer of 2015 in Balozi, Latvia working on the second part. This summer, he will most likely do a six-week intensive working on the third and final part.

“I’m curious myself what I’m going to do this summer,” he said in an artist talk on the evening of December 7, unsure of which location he would go back to.

In his work, Jacobs aimed to focus on “land, culture, politics, and economy.”

The first installment features Lucavsala, an island split by the Daugava River in Riga, Latvia.

“About 80 percent of the island is now overgrown. It’s a huge bramble,” Jacobs explained.  “It’s a flat space. The tallest hill is maybe 700 feet high.” A common occurrence is the homeless dying there. Many homeless people come to loot the homes once occupied there.

“They improperly source heat, however, and often end up setting themselves on fire,” said Jacobs, who wanted to show the “rawness of the space.”

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The second installment features various places and items he documented in Balozi, Latvia. “I sort of focused on light and illumination.”

“The Summer House” was built maybe 25-30 years ago, Jacobs explained. “This house is slowly sinking–like sitting on a sponge.” Jacobs wanted to document it because it was being taken down.

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Jacobs used a portable 4 x 5 camera, and scanned his work so he could enlarge them. He produced tintypes using a collodion wet plate process–a process convenient for people who have to make do with a portable dark room.

Jacobs said that in a digitally-invested world, it’s important to experiment–maybe not to his extent–but in a way that “A little bit of your soul will be invested in what you’re working on.”

His work is on display through January in Gallery 5 on the fifth floor of the Administration building. For much a much better image of his work, students and staff are encouraged to check it out for themselves.

Photos: Heather Alterisio ’17

Heather Alterisio ’17 is the Executive Managing Editor and a Staff Writer for the Hub. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @HeathAlt.

Posted by on December 12, 2016. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.