Joel A Whitaker

Contact Information

Joel A Whitaker


  • Full-Time Faculty


Joel Whitaker joined the faculty of the University of Dayton in 1993. From 2006 to 2010 he served as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts where his major initiatives were overseeing the renovation of an industrial building for use as a new visual arts facility and moving the department into the new facility. He remains active in photography through his teaching, ongoing study of the medium, development of photographic projects and the pursuit of exhibition outlets. In 2009 he was one of eight Ohio photographers selected to participate in a National Endowment of the Humanities funded re-photographic survey of Farm Security Administration photographs of Ohio. In 2008 his work was highlighted in the text Elements of Photography and in 2006 his work was selected for inclusion in the DVD, Photography Now/One Hundred Portfolios – An International Survey of Contemporary Photography. His work is in several private and public collections, has been exhibited extensively in the US, and has received several state, regional, and university grants.

Faculty Perspective

I am intrigued by what is left behind, what is lost and found, and how the camera and the photographic process explore the various meanings and reinventions that can be ascertained or developed from this detritus or remnant. I think this is applicable to all aspects of photography, but is of particular interest to me. In addition, I tend to look closely at the relationship of photography to drawing and sculpture and have been mindful of these processes in the making of my photographs.

I make photographs from very basic things, common things, and do so in common places. I have always shied away from the “exotic” and prefer to rely on things close at hand. I rarely travel any great distance to photograph. I work economically with minimum fuss. I consider photography to be a pliable and malleable medium and do not hold any preconceived notions as to what a photograph should look like, nor how it should be made.

I want to look beyond what is in front of me, to think beyond the obvious; to think more about what I have and what I can do with it, and do so through contemplation, engagement, and execution. To explore the intersections of the photographic medium with that of other mediums, particularly drawing and sculpture, by utilizing simple, discarded and forgotten objects as subject.

I am not interested in the purity of a medium (photography or any other), but see the photograph and the photographic process as a way to engage in various methodologies regarding the act of art making and the obvious, but the more suggestive and poetic qualities of this process and resultant work; not what lies in front of the viewer but what comes at the viewer more obliquely. I do not deny the subject, but look to interact with the subject on a level that involves the hand as much as the eye. I do not rely on subject matter to define my imagery but look for the photographs to exist outside of the subject in their own right.


  • M.F.A. in Photography, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
  • B.F.A. in Photography and Printmaking, University of Montevallo, Montevallo AL

Research Interests

  • Photography
  • Contemporary Art
  • Collage
  • Video
  • Film
  • Fluxus
  • Minimalism

Selected Publications

"Diffusion," Unconventional Photography, Volume 1, p 35, One Twelve Press, LLC, Portland, OR. 2009.

The Elements of Photography, pp. 276-279, Angela Faris Belt, Burlington, MA, Focal Press, Elsevier, Inc. 2008.

Weeks Gallery, exhibition brochure, Jamestown Community College, Jamestown, NY. 2008.

Photography Now/One Hundred Portfolios – International Survey of Contemporary Photography, DVD, Wright State University, University Art Gallery, Fairborn, OH. 2006.

Heartfelt, exhibition catalogue, pp. 61,essay by Adam Jolles, Florida State University, Museum of Fine Arts, College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance, Tallahassee, FL. 2005.

American Photography 17, NY, NY, Chosen Category/on-line publication. 2001.

Selected One and Two Person Exhibitions

Kalamazoo Photography Festival, Kalamazoo, MI. 2010.

West Virginia State University, Della Brown Taylor Gallery, Institute, WV. 2009.

Wittenberg University, Ann Miller Gallery, Springfield, OH. 2006.

Otterbein College, Fisher Gallery, Battelle Fine Arts Center, Westerville, OH. 2006.

Dayton Art Institute, Regional Artist Gallery, Dayton, OH, 2-person. 2005.

Selected Group Exhibitions

Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, Troy, OH. 2012.

Wood County History Museum, Bowling Green, OH. 2012.

Zanesville Art Museum, Zanesville, OH. 2012.

Ottawa County History Museum, Port Clinton, OH. 2011.

Center of Science and Industry, Columbus, OH. 2011.

Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film, Charlotte, NC. 2010.

Semantics, Cincinnati, OH, Touch Faith. 2009.

Roy G. Biv Gallery, Columbus, OH, Image Ohio 9. 2009.

Link Gallery, Dayton, OH, Unchained II. 2009.    

Roy G. Biv Gallery, Columbus, OH, Image Ohio 8. 2008.

Weeks Gallery, Jamestown Community College, Jamestown, NY. 2008.

Link Gallery, Dayton, OH, Momentum, three-person exhibition. 2008.

Link Gallery, Dayton, OH, Unchained. 2008.

The Cannery, Dayton, OH, .edu. 2008.

The Art Institute of Colorado, Denver, CO, Elements, Angela Faris Belt, curator. 2008.

Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN. 2008.

Riffe Gallery, Columbus, OH, Altered States. 2006.

George A. Spiva Center for the Arts, Joplin, MS, Photo Spiva. 2006.

Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee, Fl. 2005.

Aronoff Center, Weston Gallery, Cincinnati, OH, Altered. 2005.


Link Gallery, Dayton, OH. 2008.

Jamestown Community College, Jamestown, NY. 2008.

Nanjing Arts Institute, Nanjing, China. 2008.

Stivers School of the Arts, Dayton, OH. 2006.

Aronoff Center, Weston Gallery, Cincinnati, OH. 2005.

Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH. 2005.

Regional Society of Photographic Education Conference, University of Alabama in Birmingham, Birmingham, AL. 2003.