November 2009, Volume 13, Number 8

Academics


Photography professor claims national prize

Tony Chirinos traded drawing for photography while in high school because photography provided instant results. That change in direction defined the rest of his life, including several years as a medical photographer and founder of the Medical Photography Department at Baptist Health Systems. Today, he is a professor of photography at MDC’s Kendall Campus with a national award to boast. 

Chirinos recently won first place at the Camera Club of New York’s 2009 National Juried Competition. The Camera Club, established in 1884, is the oldest camera club in the country and among the most respected. He was among 300 photographers who submitted their work.

“In the art world you get rejected 90 percent of the time, so when you win an award it’s already exciting,” Chirinos said. “When you win a national competition, it’s just icing on the cake.”

His series of black and white photos depicting cockfighting and its subculture will be featured in the Club’s Juried Show Exhibition Dec. 4 – 22 in New York City.

“My project is not to promote or bash but to simply ask questions,” he said. “My intention is to find my roots through this.”

The son of Cuban immigrants, Chirinos’ search for identity began at an early age. His father was an avid storyteller who shared many memories about his native country, including stories about fighting roosters.

Chirinos shot more than 500 rolls of film in San Andres over the course of eight years. Cockfighting is popular on the island territory of Colombia. Despite the regional focus, Chirinos said the project’s appeal can carry throughout Latin America. 

Chirinos earned a Master of Fine Arts at Columbia University. His work has been exhibited at The Leroy Neiman Gallery in New York; Centro Colombo Americano in Bogota, Colombia; Silver Eye for Photography, Pittsburg, Pa.; and Art Miami in South Beach, among others. 

— Sue Arrowsmith


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