John Opera

About


John Opera is a photographer and educator born in Buffalo, N.Y, and currently based in Chicago.
He received his BFA at SUNY New Paltz (1998) and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago (2005). He has exhibited his work nationally and is included in various collections, among
them the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, Ill.), O’Melveny & Myers LLP (Los Angeles, Cal.),
the Burchfield-Penney Art Center (Buffalo, N.Y.), and the Ruth Horwich Collection (Chicago).

Opera is the subject of a 2009 monograph published by Aperture Books under the auspices of Chicago’s
Museum of Contemporary Photography. He is represented by Andrew Rafacz Gallery in Chicago, where, as of 2014,
he has had four solo exhibitions.

Throughout his career, Opera has turned to early photographic techniques that are no longer in common usage,
including, in the early 2000s, the pinhole camera, and more recently the cyanotype and anthotype. His diverse
body of work has included landscapes, still lifes, abstractions, and a series shot in Western New York inspired by the
paintings of Charles Burchfield.

A passage in a 2002 review by Buffalo News critic Richard Huntington describing the artist’s aesthetic holds
true for much of his subsequent work as well: “… Opera explores photography as a synthetic expression
potentially free of the limits of the depicted world and yet somehow still dependent on it. This play between
photography’s vaunted ability to capture the real and the artist’s freedom to deny that realism is what
makes [his work] so compelling.” [1]

Opera has taught at Columbia College (Chicago), Wilbur Wright College (Chicago), and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

[1] Richard Huntington, “3 Artists, 3 Views,” The Buffalo News, 03/01/2002.




ONE-PERSON EXHIBITIONS

2014
Not Here Yet, Loudhailer Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (September 13)
Equivalent Simulation, Michael Jon Gallery, Miami, FL
2013
a priori, Longhouse Projects, New York, NY
2012
People, Places, and Things, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL
2011
Anthotypes, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL
John Opera and Matt Sheridan-Smith, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
2009
Drinking Water In Bed, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL
2008
Zoar and Other Works, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL
John Opera and Amir Zaki, Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, IL
2007
John Opera: Recent Photographs, Macalester College Art Gallery, St. Paul, MN
2006
For Once, Then, Something, Burchfield Penney Art Center,Buffalo, NY
2003
John Opera: Soup, Buffalo Arts Studio, Buffalo, NY
2002
John Opera, CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY
2001
Soup: Recent Photographic Work by John Opera, Olean Public Gallery Olean, NY


GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2014
Rocket Run: Abstraction from Chicago, Elder Gallery, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE
Apocalyptic, Epic!, South of the Tracks, Chicago, IL
Fragments of an Unknowable Whole, Urban Arts Space, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Lateral, The Mission, Houston, TX
2013
Histories/Photographies, DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL
Weird Dude Energy, Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL
The New Now, Carter and Citizen, Los Angeles, CA
2011
Let Your Light In, Country Club, Los Angeles, CA
To Tell the Truth, Monya Rowe Gallery, New York, NY
Over the City and Through the Woods, Staler-Waldorf Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Indexing the World: Invention, Abstraction and Dissonance, Highland Park Art Center,IL
Art Los Angeles Contemporary Fair, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2010
Indexing the World: Invention, Abstraction and Dissonance, The Art Center, Highland Park, IL
NADA Art Fair, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Miami, FL
Welcome to the Neighborhood, William H. Cooper Mfg. Co., Chicago, IL
2009
MP3 II, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
High School Art Show, Marmion Academy, Aurora IL
Interrupting a Beam Of Light, David Cunningham Projects, San Francisco CA
2008
Pictures of Nothing, Llyod Dobler Gallery, Chicago, IL
The World Is A Handkerchief, Dorsky Gallery, Queens, NY
Crit 3, Spencertown Academy, Spencertown, NY
Gateways: Space, Place and the Transformative, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY
2007
Summer Group Show, Rowley Kennerk Gallery, Chicago, IL
Concerning Tomorrow, Harold Arts Residency, Chicago, IL
2006
Project Room, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago, IL
2005
Can I Get A Witness, Bucket Rider Gallery, Chicago, IL
Into the Woods, Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, IL
Cross Cuts, Northern Lights, San Francisco, CA
Jonesing, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, NY
M.F.A. Exhibition, Gallery 2, Chicago, IL
2003
Rockwell, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, NY
2002
Area Artists 2002 Collection, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Convergence 2002, Carnegie Art Center, Tonawanda, NY
2001
Exposure, CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY
2000
John Opera: Photographs, Niagara County Community College Art Gallery, Sanborn, NY
1998
The Uncertainty Principle, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, S.U.N.Y New Paltz, NY


GRANTS AND AWARDS

2008
Aperture/MOCP Photographer’s Publication Project, Aperture Foundation, New York, NY
2005
Weinstein Fellowship, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
2002
Special Opportunity Stipend, New York State Foundation for the Arts, Buffalo, NY
1993
Banking on Creativity $10,000 Scholarship, Rochester Community Savings Bank, Buffalo, NY


ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

2012
Grabner, Michelle. “John Opera: Andrew Rafacz Gallery” ArtForum, December 2012, pg. 283
2009
Cochran, Jessica. “Rising Stars.” Chicago Social Interiors Magazine, Fall 2009, pgs. 58-60
Grabner, Michelle. “MP3, II: Curtis Mann, John Opera, Stacia Yeapanis.”Artforum.com, 8/30/2009
Ritchie, Abraham. “MPIII.” Artslant.com, August 31, 2009
Sutherland, Emilie. “Media Reports.” Photo District News Edu, Vol. 8, Issue 2, Fall 2009, pg. 20
Waxman, Lori. “Television, Nature and the News, Mediated.” Chicago Tribune, August 21, 2009
Weinberg, Lauren. “MP3, Volume 2.” Time Out Chicago, Issue 234, August 20-26, 2009
2008
Cochran, Jessica. “John Opera and Amir Zaki.” Chicago Social, January 2008
Eler, Alicia. “John Opera.” Artforum.com, September 2008
Foumberg, Jason. “Eye Exam: Taking a Walk In Nature.” New City, September 16, 2008
Lang, Karissa. “John Opera and Amir Zaki.” New City, January 24, 2008
Menzies, Michelle. “Flash Review.” Flash Art, November/December 2008, pg. 91
Wenzel, Erik. “Black Forest.” Artslant.com, September 15, 2008
2006
Cain, Amina. “Into the Woods.” Chicago Artists’ News, February 2006
Huntington, Richard. “Human Nature.” The Buffalo News, September 1, 2006
2005
Huntington, Richard. “Valley Views.” The Buffalo News, February 11, 2005, pg. G23
2003
Adams, Bruce. “Apples and Oranges.” The Buffalo News. May 30, 2003, pg. G21
2002
Huntington, Richard. “Three Artists, Three Visions.” The Buffalo News, March 1, 2002, pg. G22
Lavatelli, Mark. “Bodies of Work.” The Buffalo News. October 27, 2002


PUBLICATIONS

2015
John Opera Interview with David LaRocca. Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism (forthcoming)
2012
John Opera, Stevie Rexroth, Adam Schreiber. Location Books: Volume 6, Minneapolis, MN, 2012
2009
Irvine, Karen. Midwest Photographer’s Project MP3: John Opera. New York, NY: Aperture Books, 2009
2005
Massier, John. Jonseing Catalog. Buffalo, New York: Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, 2005
2002
Cavell, Stanley. Emerson’s Transcendental Etudes, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press,2002, (illus.).
2003
Larocca, David. “The Grammar of Origin.” Soup Catalog. Buffalo, New York: Buffalo Arts Studio, 2003
2002
Licata, Elizabeth.“Trigger Suite.” Convergence Catalog. Tonawanda, NY: Carnegie Art Center, 2002


CURATORIAL PROJECTS

2012
For Once, Then, Something, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY
2011
Polarities, Williams-Cornelius Vault Gallery, Jacksonville, FL
2004
Three on Three, Higher Gallery, Chicago, IL
2002
Signals From the Electronic Cloud, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY
2001
George Smith: Recent Sculpture and Drawings, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY
2000
The Filmic Art of Paul Sharits, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY


COLLECTIONS

Belgravia Group, Chicago, IL
Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY
DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL
Campos Collection, Chicago, IL
Ruth Horwich Collection, Chicago, IL
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Los Angeles, CA


EDUCATION

2005
MFA The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2003-2005)
1998
BFA State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz, NY (1993-1998)