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Photo Finish

Local photographer wins Madison
Art Club’s Regional Art Show

She becomes the first photographer
to win the 20th annual event

(December 2018) – Madison, Ind., native Aliccia Kasper, 24, always enjoyed taking photos but never thought about becoming a photographer. She considered becoming a teacher until she began college and decided to turn her hobby into her career. Kasper’s change of plans came to fruition with her recent success at the Madison Art Club’s 20th annual Regional Art Show, where she won top honors for her photography.
Eighty-four artists participated in this year’s art show, which took place in October. Since artists can display up to two works, there were 152 pieces up for judging. The show holds seven categories for entry: 3-D, artisan, drawing, fiber arts, painting, photography and wild card. Painting is the most popular category with 82 entries.

Photo by Sydney G. Wilson

Aliccia Kasper displays her ribbon after winning the Regional Art Show judging in October.

This year’s art show saw new results with Kasper’s designation as Best of Show, which is the show’s highest award. This was Kasper’s first time entering the Regional Art Show, and it was also the first time a photography entry has won the Best of Show award.
The second place Award of Excellence went to Michael Enzweiler of Camp Springs, Ky., who competed in the 3-D category. “This was also the first time a 3-D piece won a higher award,” said Teresa Waller, Madison Art Club president. The third place Duke Energy Award of Distinction was given to Benjamin Nay III of Shepherdsville, Ky., for his watercolor painting.
Kim Krause of Cincinnati acted as judge for the art show and designated 24 awards to participating artists. Two special awards were designated at the art show: One was a Mayor’s Choice Award, in which Madison Mayor Damon Welch was given the opportunity to choose a piece of his choice, which was a painting done by Waller.
The other was a People’s Choice Award, where visitors to the art gallery could cast their vote by ballot. There were 234 votes for the People’s Choice Award, and 33 of those votes went to Jennifer Fox of Martinsville, Ind., for her drawing.
“People love participating in voting,” said Waller.
Best of Show winner Kasper completed her college education at Indiana University Southeast and is skilled in both digital and film photography. Her goal is to ultimately tell a story through her photography, which she has been doing most recently by capturing abandoned buildings.
“My work is very conceptual,” she said. “When I first started, my professor warned me to stay away from urban exploration photography.”
However, Kasper chose to stick with her choices. She said she does not stage or touch things when taking pictures of empty spaces. “I just photograph the raw place,” she said. “I enjoy exploring the reasons why things take place in certain locations and always do research on the buildings I photograph.”
As a photographer, Kasper said she enjoys stepping into the building and imagining what has taken place there. She finds inspiration from photographers like Christian Richter and Walter Arnold, who both capture empty buildings and their stories.
Kasper also refers to her work as faith-based, which is evident from the title of the winning photograph, which is “James 5:1-6,” a Biblical passage. She said she likes to use the titles of her work and faith as a conversation starter. Many of her photographs are pieces of her journey toward having a relationship with God and focus on personal themes of loss and abandonment.
“I was intrigued by the title,” said Waller. “I think people ought to read that passage from the Bible. It brings another dimension to her work.”
The image that won the art show was part of a series of four photos Kasper took for her BFA thesis. The photo series was set in Gary, Ind., a city that Kasper felt would be the best choice for her project after researching. “Gary is so ridden in poverty, and I felt like I needed to go there,” she said.
Kasper said that Gary offered a wide selection of derelict buildings for her to photograph. The winning piece was taken at an abandoned Methodist Church in Gary that Kasper said fit well with her work and beliefs.
“After reading the history of the church, everything just fit together. The story involves the pastor becoming greedy, and now the church is abandoned, which leaves a lot open to interpretation,” she said.
Kasper decided to enter the art contest in order to gain more confidence in her work. After taking a step back from photography after facing some challenges, she decided to try the contest and see what happened. Her efforts ended in success, and the award-winning photograph has generated positive feedback for Kasper.
“The photo was definitely a conversation starter,” said Kasper, noting that the title of the photo and the subject matter helped generate discussion with viewers.
“It’s a powerful image, and she’s quite talented,” said Waller. “I’m happy that a hometown artist won.”

Kasper said her goal moving forward is to use her photography to help bolster improvements for abandoned buildings. “I hope to take my photography to different boards and building owners and help them come up with a use for these buildings,” she said. “It takes more money to tear a building down then to fix it up. I want to present my photography in a way that can bring hope to a building and this community.”

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