MJ Sharp

Instructor

MJ Sharp is a documentary and fine arts photographer. She was the staff photographer at the Independent, an award-winning newsweekly in North Carolina, for most of the 1990s while also freelancing regionally for the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, PBS’s Frontline, the Columbia Journalism Review, and the Ford Foundation, among others. She went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007, when she began extensively photographing night landscapes with vintage large-format bellows cameras. With the support of investors she was able to travel to Scotland to shoot by moonlight in the winter of 2010. She took the long-exposure model indoors to explore common domestic scenes in extreme low-light conditions. Very long exposures, whether taken by the magic of moonlight or by prosaic household illumination, produce a singular visual vocabulary possible only with slowly accumulating light on film. That vocabulary, in turn, initiates a particular kind of discussion about what we take time to see and experience and what we overlook and disregard. Her work appears in the collections of the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Akron Museum of Art, the Nasher Museum of Art, the Ackland Museum of Art, and the Asheville Museum of Art, as well as private collections such as the Cassilhaus Collection in Chapel Hill, NC. She has been based at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke since 2012, where she loves teaching the alchemy of black and white film photography and the rigor of advanced projects to undergraduates. Samples of her work are available online at www.mjsharp.com.