Jasper Takes a Turn at Anastasia & Friends with Kathryn Van Aernum

Phoenix by Kathryn Van Aernum

Phoenix by Kathryn Van Aernum

One of Jasper’s most rewarding missions is supporting independent artists as they move through the various growths and stages of their careers. We have recently been afforded another opportunity to do so by guest curating one show a year at Anastasia & Friends gallery on Main Street.

Our first show opens this Thursday and features the photography of Kathryn Van Aernum.

We had a chance to visit with Kathryn recently and learned more about her history, process, and aesthetic. A graphic artist and photographer, Kathryn also serves as a creativity coach. Her joy, she says, is helping artists “find ways into their work.”

A graduate of Narope University in Boulder, a learning institution founded in the 1970s by Buddhist education Chogyam Trungpa that fosters not only personal and professional growth, but also intellectual development and contemplative practice, Kathryn carries much of what she learned there into her personal and professional lives today.

“I always take the scenic route,” Kathryn says, explaining that she originally went to school for theatre. Born in Ann Arbor, she grew up in the Detroit metropolitan area and spent 15 years living in Key West where she spent some time operating a B and B, then moved on to doing ad work for much of the gay hotel industry in the area. Throughout the time, however, Kathryn was also at work on her art giving solo and group shows and photography exhibitions. Kathryn has exhibited at Artfields twice and copies of one of her photos of the Congaree Fireflies will soon be offered at the Columbia Fireflies Baseball team gift shop thisyear.

Common Ground, the show Jasper is producing for Kathryn at Anastasia & Friends Art Gallery, opening August 2nd, is a photographic contemplation on the common pathways individuals and communities take. “Living in the city, I began to see patterns in the pavement itself and asking myself – how can I render this in a way that will make people take notice?”

Kathryn notes the double entendre of the show’s title as it focuses both on human mobility and common pavement and how we share it. “You can’t really separate humans from nature,” she says. “We erroneously feel like we aren’t really nature, but we can’t escape the natural elements that occur and connect us.”

The show will also feature a few images from a recent trip to Greece the artist enjoyed with her sister, Gail Van Aernum Barnes, who is director of the Strings Project at USC.


About the show:


Common Ground: Artist Statement

Common: belonging to or shared by two or more individuals or things or by all members of a group.

Common: widespread, general, ordinary

The photographs in Common Ground focus on man-made surfaces, such as pavement, asphalt, cobblestones, concrete etc., with attention paid specifically to the abstract “paintings” created on these ordinary surfaces by the interaction of time, weather and humans. All the artificial terrains portrayed have one thing in common: to facilitate human flow and interaction, with some reaching back as early as the 2nd millennium BC.




More about the artist:

Kathryn Van Aernum’s subjects range from the mundane to the sublime, and she continues to cultivate a sense of spaciousness in her photography. The elements of design: harmony, balance and rhythm present themselves to Kathryn almost subconsciously, allowing her to capture a moment that transports the viewer into their own minds, memories and dreams.        

Ms. Van Aernum holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction in Visual Arts from Naropa University, the premier educational institution combining contemplative practice with academic rigor.

While photography is her main medium, she is also an accomplished watercolorist, mixed media and book artist. As a creativity coach she works with professionals who have buried their creative soul in the daily grind, helping them reclaim creative confidence so they can thrive at work and beyond.     

Her work has appeared in juried competitions, group and solo exhibits, in Key West, FL; Boulder, CO;  Fort Collins, CO; Ann Arbor, MI; and Columbia, Spartanburg and Lake City, SC. and is in many private collections throughout the US.

You can find her on the web at



@kvanastudios on instagram, twitter and facebook

The Artist - Kathryn Van Aernum

The Artist - Kathryn Van Aernum

CALL for Photography - Indie Grits Labs

Indie Grits Labs is seeking work from emerging Southern artists that addresses and challenges the social, cultural, and physical landscapes of the South through photographic media.

Submission Information

Submission Deadline: July 2, 2018
Entry fee: $5.00 – Purchase through our shop
Notification of Acceptance: July 12
Opening Reception: July 26 at Indie Grits Labs | 1013 Duke Ave.

All Images will be printed center weighted on a 13×19 sheet by Indie Grits Labs.

Prints will be available for sale through Indie Grits Labs. We are suggesting a 30% commision on all sales to be put towards future juried exhibitions and educational opportunities. Prices will be established upon acceptance into the exhibition.

You can submit anywhere from 1-5 photos for the $5.00 fee.


Submission Guidelines

All Submissions should be included in one email to exhibitions@indiegrits.org

Subject Line: “Submission: Southern Disposition”
In the body of the email:
Your Name
Titles of Pieces Submitted
1 to 2 sentences about your work if desired
Link to Website
Entry Fee Screenshot/Receipt

File Requirements

1 to 5 images: .jpgs, 1000px on the longest side, 72ppi, sRGB color space
File Name Format: lastname_disposition_1.jpg


In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Kathleen Robbins: Photographing the Most Southern Place on Earth

"Some part of photographer Kathleen Robbins permanently exists in the flat, rural, alluvial plains of the Mississippi Delta. Her family has farmed cotton there for six generations, so the soil has practically entwined itself into her DNA, creating the need to visit often and record the changing landscape of the place itself, but also a vanishing way of life. Cotton fields are being replaced by soy and corn, and communities that grew up around the cultivation of cotton are dispersing. ..." - Kara Gunter

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Molly Harrell: Finding the Naked Truth

“She says it was a ‘midlife crisis’ that brought her back to the camera, picking up a proclivity she developed in her first photograph class in 1983 at the University of Tennessee, but Molly Harrell was bound to find her way back behind the lens. The freedom she found there has allowed her the kind of comfort—with self as well as others—many people would spend hours on the therapist’s couch to achieve. And bravery? It takes a special kind of guts to switch careers in the middle of it all, go back to school, study seriously, start anew. But guts are something Harrell has no shortage of, whether she’s picking up and moving to a new city, or standing full frontal before her own camera for a self-portrait. The chick is tough. ...” – Cynthia Boiter

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Jessica Christine Owen: Learning and Teaching

“Packing up and moving across the country to a place where the people and culture are completely unknown can be intimidating. For some, it would likely be too daunting a task to consider. But for Jessica Christine Owen, it was a challenge willingly accepted. As an innovative photographer who grew up and attended school in New Mexico, the change was more about a new perspective and the opportunity to work with other women who created work completely different from her own. ...” – Deborah Swearingen For the full story and photos, check out page 26 of the magazine below:

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Ashley Concannon - Through The Dancer's Eyes

"Any given day finds 25-year-old Ashley Concannon crouching in the corner of the Columbia City Ballet studios between rehearsals. Usually she is sewing ribbons onto a pair of pointe shoes, taping her toes, stretching, exercising, or completing one of the many tasks demanded of her by her profession, but when she can find the time she sneaks behind the lens of her Canon Rebel T3i to capture a glimpse of life in the dance studio from another artistic perspective--that of a photographer. ..." - Bonnie Boiter-Jolley For the full article and photos, check out page 46 of the magazine below:

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Motherboards + Matrixes: A Look at Runaway Runway designer Jesse Cody

"Artist, photographer, and veteran Runaway Runway designer Jesse Cody, 23, knows who her favorite artist is: it depends on when you ask her. 'Ask me when I wake up--it's Rene Magritte,' says Cody, comfortable in a faded Punisher movie t-shirt. 'Lunch time rolls around--it's Ryan Murphy. The sun starts to go down--it's Marilyn Manson.' 'But you know, I can't say that I can think of any one artist that has influenced my work,' says Cody, motioning towards the remnants of her Runaway Runway 2012 design. 'I believe it is, like most of my work, the love child of any and all artists in my mind, including myself.' ..." - Giesela Lubecke

For the full article and photos, click through the screenshot below:

Motherboards Screenshot

Stand a Little Taller: Photography from the Portraits of Promise - guest blog by Jacqueline Adams

Stand a Little Taller: Photography from the Portraits of Promise summer arts program with Girls Incorporated of Greater Columbia and Columbia College – guest blog by Jacqueline Adams


How do community-based arts collaborations and partnerships get started? I can tell you, it’s not always by a formal process of invitation.  Often times, it’s more of a casual affair, one that takes place in the ease of a restaurant, a cozy dinner gathering, or a friendly meeting amongst those integral players of pursuit. In my arts administration graduate program this practice known as “friendship with a purpose,” is most often the origin for such dynamic arts endeavors.


In 2011 I embarked on a three-year arts partnership between Columbia College and Girls Incorporated of Greater Columbia that started over a warm brunch at one of Columbia’s favorite local dining establishments, The Original Pancake House.  Vivian Gore, Executive Director of a local Girls Inc. that serves girls ages 6-18 from the Greater Columbia area, invited me to dine and talk about the possibility of creating an arts program between Columbia College and GIGC.


The Girls Inc. mission, to inspire all girls to be Strong, Smart, and Bold, is a thriving national organization where the Honorary Board Chair is First Lady, Michelle Obama.  Not too shabby.  Additionally, national Girls Inc. programming is research-based and covers areas such as economic and media literacy to leadership and community action, among others. The more I learned about Girls Inc. the more appealing it was to create a partnership.


Back to brunch. Devouring my favorite OPH crepe, Gore, early in the meal, became very purposeful and direct as she spoke passionately about her vision to bring GIGC and CC together through the arts.  Based on my previous volunteer work with GIGC and as coordinator of the college‘s Goodall Gallery, Gore identified me as the person she entrusted to build this partnership. Throughout our meal, I appreciated the depth and potential of Gore’s proposal, and accepted the request to design and develop an arts partnership program.



One year later, over the summer of 2012, the two-week arts program we developed, Portraits of Promise (POP!), had taken place and culminated with a glowing performance and show of works.  The program taught classes in photography and dance by three professional artist-educators: Michaela Pilar Brown (photography), LaQuannia Lewis (dance), and Monessa Salley (dance) to 15 girls, ages 10-16.  The program also included a mentoring experience where each girl’s potential career paths were matched with a local, professional women working in fields that spanned broadcasting and the arts, to medicine and law.


The overall mission of the POP! arts program was to explore and create original dance and photography works that identified and valued the power of promise existing within a girl and the shared relationships within her community.


The exhibit entitled, Stand a Little Taller, features the photography works from the 15 girls who participated in POP! along with a series of mentor photography by Michaela Pilar Brown, who encouraged the girls to take ownership over the show by naming the exhibit themselves.  The show’s title, Stand a Little Taller, is a line from the Kelly Clarkson song, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”. I later listened to the song and its lyrics and can understand why the students were inspired by Clarkson’s music; it is a positive force of encouragement to be strong, smart, and bold.


Michaela Pilar Brown, the program’s photography instructor, is a powerful contemporary female artist in her own right.  Brown’s own professional work, which includes a repertoire of photography, sculpture, mixed media, and installation, delves into ideas and concepts around identity, especially for females and their relationships to the self, community and society.  Brown’s goal in the program was to “teach students to see, to take in their environments in a comprehensive way and to process the information…that allowed them to communicate visually, to become storytellers.  We hope students learned to value their own voice and to find agency in one’s own ability to communicate their needs, dreams...their stories.”


On the evening of Friday, February 22, the gallery hosted a reception for the 15 students, inviting them back for a formal showing of their work. Seeing these young ladies back together was like a reunion, and had solidified the outcome of a successful community-based arts partnership. The girls had grown much more comfortable in themselves and in the learning they had gained during POP! The shy and reserved nature I had witnessed last summer was replaced by glowing smiles, growing confidence and genuine conversations about their promising futures under the warm spotlight of having their creative selves on display.


“Stand a Little Taller: Photography from the Portraits of Promise summer arts program with Girls Incorporated of Greater Columbia and Columbia College” opens February 20 with works on view through Sunday, March 24. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.  The Columbia College Goodall Galley is located inside the Spears Center for the Arts at 1301 Columbia College Drive in downtown Columbia off of North Main Street. Gallery Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For further information about exhibits please visit www.columbiasc.edu or call (803) 786-3899. For more information about Girls Incorporated of Greater Columbia please visit GIGC on Facebook.











A Portrait of Columbia Through the Lens of Richard Samuel Roberts

Wherever your eyes drift while viewing the work of photographer Richard Samuel Roberts, they’ll always return to the faces. There’s a story to tell in each one, stories of dignity, determination, and strength of spirit.

  Roberts, a self-taught African-American photographer, is celebrated for the remarkable portraits he took of black Columbians between 1920 and 1936. In the introduction to “A True Likeness: The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts,” Thomas Johnson notes that Robert’s photographs “of course portray black Carolinians in their role as ‘burden bearers.’ But here also is W.E.B. Du Bois’s ‘talented tenth’ in South Carolina -- the achievers, progressives, entrepreneurs who engaged in individual and communal programs of uplift and self-help, who were concerned not just with mere survival, but ‘making it’ and claiming their piece of the American pie.”

  Thanks to the work of a new membership affiliate at the Columbia Museum of Art, the

Friends of African American Art and Culture, 24 of Roberts’ images can now be seen in a new exhibit in Gallery 15, upstairs at the museum. The images were chosen by FAAAC board members, folks such as Waltene Whitmire, Javana Lovett, Preach Jacobs, Michaela Pilar Brown, and Kyle Coleman. Each board member was asked to write down their thoughts about the photograph, and these insights are displayed alongside the image.

  This is a must-see exhibit for everyone, but especially for Columbians who are not familiar with Roberts and his work. He deserves to be heralded as one of our city’s most historically significant artists, a man whose curiosity and dedication preserved a part of our culture that might otherwise have been lost.

  Roberts and his family moved to Columbia from Fernandina, Florida, in 1920. His wife, Wilhelmina Pearl Selena Williams, was a native of Columbia. Roberts took a job as custodian at the post office and worked weekdays from 4 a.m. to noon. He purchased a five-room house at 1717 Wayne Street for $3,000, and in 1922 he rented space for a photography studio upstairs at 1119 Washington St., a block off Main Street.

  “The fact that Roberts could purchase such a house is ample evidence that he and his family were members of a rising, relatively affluent, middle-class black community,” Johnson wrote.

  Over the years, Roberts took thousands of photographs of members of this community, so the 24 on display currently the Museum of Art only scratch the surface of this historical treasure trove. (A book could be written about the discovery and restoration of the 3,000 glass-plate negatives that were found in a crawl space at the family’s Wayne Street home a half-century after Roberts took the photographs.)

  The exhibition will be on view through April 29, 2012. But don’t wait to go see it, and don’t go just once. Check out the book “A True Likeness” for more of Roberts’ work, and I encourage everyone who has an appreciation for the artistic and cultural contributions of African-American artists to join the FAAAC. Affiliate president Brandolyn Thomas Pinkston says the group’s goal is to provide “a multitude of programs, lectures, and exhibits.”

  The Roberts exhibit is a fascinating and powerful start.

-- Mike Miller


Michael Miller is an associate editor of Jasper Magazine -- read more of his work in the last two issues of Jasper at www.jaspercolumbia.com.

Palmetto Pointe Project - Guest Blog

Local photographer captures spirit of ballet dancers amid Columbia’s landscape By Rebecca Krumel

(Special to What Jasper Said)

Jason Ayer is a Columbia native and creator of the Palmetto Pointe Project which will be highlighted starting this Friday at Cool Beans Coffee Shop on College Street through  October 30.  His unique and captivating photography collection showcases local dancers in unconventional settings far from the confines of the dance studio.

When asked why he chose to photograph dancers, he laughs and says, “Taking pictures of beautiful women is never a bad thing!” But, the father of two added jokingly, “If I were twenty years younger I’d do it for the women; now I do it for the art.”

Ayer’s interest in photographing dancers began as a high school student in Charleston. He did technical work for the Youth Company in Charleston, and moved back to Columbia in the 1980’s and tried his hand in theatre by performing dance and musical roles at Workshop Theater for a decade. “I did a little bit of everything--singing, dancing, and acting.” Now, Ayer is the photographer for the USC Dance Program as well as the Coquettes.

At first glance, the Palmetto Pointe Project is reminiscent of New York’s Ballerina Project which has received widespread recognition from the Wall Street Journal to the Australian ballet blog Behind Ballet. Quite popular on Facebook, The Ballerina Project is inspiring photographers nationwide, although Ayer says his aim is not to mimic the successful venture which focuses on photographing dancers amid elaborate cityscape. His artistic vision spotlights the dancer rather than the setting. “In The Ballerina Project, the landscape often overpowers the dancer,” he says. Ayer prefers to match the setting to the dancer by drawing out their personality in each image, or for a more bold approach, taking them out of their element. Ayers’ process for a  typical photo shoot involves meeting with the dancer at a location in the Columbia area, and then focusing his lens as her inner creative spirit is revealed through choreography and movement.

Ayer seeks to get the dancers involved in the creative process as much as possible. “What ends up on the canvas relies on them.” He says dance photography is about capturing the personality of the dancer, and oftentimes this is achieved by placing them in settings that may contradict their personality or challenge their creativity. Not only do the dancers drive the photo shoot with their artistry, they are given the final say on all the photographs. Ayers will not display an image that the dancer has not previously approved. “If the dancer doesn’t like it then I’m not going to use it.” The dancer also shares in the profits of any images sold in which they appear.

Ayer and his ballerina subjects are making something unique to Columbia. His photographs are site-specific and therefore nostalgic for Columbians. Palmetto Pointe Project is uniquely South Carolinian and true to the artistic setting and lives of the dancers it portrays. His slogan is, “See some familiar and not-so-familiar places in Columbia through the eyes of a dancer.” While he seeks out niches of Columbia for his backdrops, the dancers are central to the art. Each image is named for the dancer and not the place. Most of his subjects are performers with the USC Dance Company, but Ayers is interested in expanding the project to include other local dance companies as well.

Goals for the project include a website (already underway), a  calendar, and you can check out Palmetto Pointe Project on Facebook now. Friday’s opening will offer the public a chance to meet Ayers, purchase his prints, and meet the dancers featured in his new photographic works.

Jasper Magazine Coalescence Series: Volume 1 – Photography and the Word

Something special happens when artists from differing disciplines get together and share the creative process. For artists and arts lovers alike, there’s a tingling in the spine. Chills rush up the arms, and the shade on a window in the brain dramatically flaps open, as you realize you see something in a brand new, mind-expanding light.

Selfishly, Jasper is a junkie for this type of not-so-naughty voyeuristic experience. That’s why we’re announcing the Jasper Magazine Coalescence Series.  The Coalescence Series will facilitate connecting artists from two or more disciplines in the creative process – dancers with painters, and musicians with actors, for example.

The first event in the series, Coalescence: Volume 1 – Photography and the Word, will turn the process of illustration on its head as the Columbia area’s excellent local writers are invited to respond in short prose form (500 words or less) to photos submitted by our best local photographers. The result?  A journey into the imagination of the literary artist as it is stimulated by that of the visual artist in photographic form.

Here’s how to get involved.

Photographers – please select your most evocative, narrative-rich photographic images for submission. While portraits are not prohibited, they may be less likely to induce imaginative response, and therefore, not chosen for this project. We encourage you to choose photographic submissions that depict action or interaction; pictures that show distance, proximity, mannerisms, emotions, relationships, or response. Look for potential clues to the action in your images. Can you can find one or more stories in the image you submit?

A few more things to consider:

If your submission depicts an individual, have your model sign a standard model release form (available at jaspercolumbia.com).

Submit only high-resolution photography to editor@jaspercolumbia.com.

The deadline for photography is October 15, 2011.

Writers – stay tuned to jaspercolumbia.com and the announcement of the winning photographic images selected for your compositional pleasure, and follow the directions you find there.

Photography and the Word will coalesce in December 2011. More details to come at jaspercolumbia.com.

Shooting Match Coming to Saluda Shoals Park

I admit it. I’m a shutterbug. I’m also just a tad competitive, so it’s like catnip when a photography contest comes around. You may have heard that the always breathtaking unearth celebration of nature and the arts is returning to Saluda Shoals Park at the end of September, and festival organizers are seeking submissions for their unearth Amateur Photography Contest. Do I hear bike trip? My son and I soon will trek to Saluda Shoals in pursuit of that winning photo because, to qualify, photos must be taken at Saluda Shoals Park. The judges will be looking for images that capture the magic and natural beauty of the park. You can take pictures of trees, the river, trails, animals, and even people enjoying the park (but be sure to get photo releases if you submit any pictures with identifiable people in them; the critters, however, probably don’t have legal representation).

While I’m on the subject (and although I’m merely a hobbyist at this point), I would like to offer some tips for shooting your best nature photos. Did you ever notice how most sunset photos tend to look alike? Sure, they’re pretty and all, but boring unless there’s some special, different element to them. And while it’s great to stand back and see the “big picture,” I’ve had some surprising success focusing on tiny, off the beaten path treasures I happen upon. There is so much beauty everywhere you look as long as you just see. Fungi are among nature’s most fascinating ‘sculptures,’ and they come in all sort of shapes and colors. Don’t overlook the lichen on tree bark, insects, small reptiles, even the tiniest of flowers. Focus your lens on them and see what happens.

Earlier this year, I took a hiking trip to Jones Gap State Park in the Upstate. I just happened to bring my camera with me. Here are a few examples of what I found there (and shot on sight) over the course of just a couple of hours.

See. It’s OK to get down and dirty, play a little Pachisi with the beetles. There’s a lot that’s below (or even above eye level). Anyway, I was pleased with these shots.

OK. I know a lot of you will want to join me at the unearth photo contest AWARDS CEREMONY on Thursday, Sept. 29. Photos will be exhibited at the park’s Environmental Education Center throughout the entire unearth weekend, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. Cash prizes will be awarded in Adult and Junior divisions in each of four categories: General Nature, Human Nature, and Digital Creativity. The deadline for entries is Saturday, September 17, at 5:00 p.m. For a copy of contest rules, go to www.unearthsaluda.org or call (803) 772-1228.

And if I see you on the trails at Saluda Shoals Park between now and the 17th, well, … bring it!

- K. Hartvigsen


PS -- While we have your attention, see that little box over to the right? Have you had a chance to submit your email address so that "What Jasper Said" can come directly to your mailbox everyday? Why not go ahead and do that now? Just takes a sec -- and then Jasper can visit you everyday and keep you up to date on all the arts happenings in town. Thanks!

Check out the official Jasper website at