Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan

Rebekah Modrak

Rebekah Modrak

Associate Professor, School of Art & Design


Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Office: 2072 AA
Phone: (734) 936-1853

Curriculum Vitae

M.F.A. (Art Media Studies), Syracuse University, 1996 B.F.A., New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, 1992


Rebekah Modrak’s work involves a struggle between the expected uses of a particular technology or history and her desire to employ that equipment or system in unintended ways that support the messier dynamics of life. Modrak’s original experiments in photography led her to question how the one-point perspective of "reality through a viewfinder" presumes to represent our experience of sight. In 1994, she began to experiment with techniques that reveal multiple relationships rather than a still perspective by constructing 15-foot tall "humans" out of hundreds of photographs of body parts. These three-dimensional bodies investigated ways in which psychological states manifest themselves physically upon the body. Installed in existing environments, the giants loomed from ceilings, and lurked around corners.

As Modrak manipulated photographs to the will of the three-dimensional creatures, she recognized a lapse between this approach to media and the available texts about photography studio practice. In 2001, Modrak began writing a book that redefines photography (theory, history and technique) as a more expansive practice utilized by various types of artists, some who do not necessarily define themselves as photographers. This book, Reframing Photography, published by Routledge in January 2011, is the first to integrate history, theory and practice into one coherent presentation and to dispel the myth that concept and technique are discrete choices, rather than considerations made simultaneously. The text addresses the many ways photography is utilized, within the arts and other disciplines, and acknowledges photography’s omnipresence in varying forms within the arts. Photography is reconsidered in diverse ways, such as in acts of mediated vision, as the process of drawing with light, as the action of generating copies, as shadow play, projection, collage, and as in interactive internet projects.

Modrak’s recent studio work explores interests in shared concerns between art and commerce - each involving questions of labor, production and distribution. Her artworks on eBay offer recreations of historic photographs, each incorporating an implausible garment as the main event. Original Fluxus stretchy pants mentioned in the post Stolen Ebayaday presented a pair of stretchy pants that (Modrak proposed) had been worn by Yoko Ono during her Cut Piece, by VALIE EXPORT in her street gestures, and by the members of Hi Red Center during their street cleaning event. Original Vito Acconci parasol with photographs adds an ornamental parasol to five seminal Vito Acconci performances. For ebayaday, Modrak, Zack Denfeld, and Aaron Ahuvia (Associate Professor, UM-Dearborn, School of Business) curated a month-long art exhibition featuring site-specific work by twenty-five artists.


Click thumbnails to view full size.

News Featuring Rebekah Modrak

Rebekah Modrak Reviews CCA Graduate Program
Rebekah Modrak: BITE ME
Rebekah Modrak Presents at Kern Conference in Visual Communication
Reframing Photography Reviewed
Online Exhibition: Tell the Story of Your Life in Detroit
Rebekah Modrak: “Reframing Photography”
Festifools Parade
Event - Reading and Book Signing: Reframing Photography
PLAY - Announcement: a Book is Born
Rebekah Modrak Publishes “Reframing Photography”