Tema Stauffer is a photographer whose work examines the social, economic, and cultural landscape of American spaces. Her work has been exhibited at Sasha Wolf, Daniel Cooney Fine Art, and Jen Bekman galleries in New York, as well as galleries and institutions nationally and internationally. Her work is currently represented by Tracey Morgan Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina. She is an Associate Professor of Photography at East Tennessee State University and has previously taught at Concordia University in Montreal, Ramapo College of New Jersey, College of Staten Island, School at ICP, William Paterson University, and Toxico Cultura in Mexico City. She was awarded an AOL 25 for 25 Grant for innovation in the arts in 2010 for her combined work as an artist, curator, and writer. She has contributed articles to PDNedu, American Photo Magazine, Ciel variable, Culturehall, and other publications.
She is the recipient of the 2012 Women in Photography – LTI/Lightside Individual Project Grant and a 2014 CCNY Darkroom Residency for her documentary portrait series, Paterson, depicting residents of Paterson, New Jersey during the years following the economic crisis of 2008. One of these portraits was a finalist for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2013 and was included in the competition exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery from 2013-14. The same portrait received third prize in The Photo Review Competition 2012. Paterson was presented in solo exhibitions at Baxter Street CCNY Gallery and Sasha Wolf Gallery in 2015. Her series, Upstate, was published in a monograph by Daylight Books in fall 2018 and exhibited at ETSU’s Reece Museum, Tracey Morgan Gallery, ilon Art Gallery, and Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House. The book was nominated for the Unviel’d Photobook Award 2018. She recently completed a new series of photographs, Southern Fiction, exploring settings that shaped the literary imaginations of 20th-century Southern writers. The production of this series has been supported by research grants from ETSU and a Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship award. Southern Fiction has been exhibited Auburn University’s Biggin Gallery, Tracey Morgan Gallery, ETSU’s Reece Museum, MTSU’s Baldwin Photographic Gallery, and the Rutledge Gallery of the Winthrop University Galleries. A monograph of Southern Fiction was released by Daylight Books in October 2022.
Stauffer graduated from Oberlin College in 1995 and received a Master’s Degree in Photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998. She received CAAP grants for projects in 1999 and 2000 and contributed a series of photographs shot on ride-alongs with police officers to the CITY 2000, an archive of photographs examining the city of Chicago in the year 2000. A large body of her work was exhibited through the Minnesota Center for Photography at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery and in a solo exhibition at the Rochester Art Center in 2004. She was a finalist for the McKnight Photography Fellowship in 2005 and was nominated for the KLM Paul Huf Award in 2008 and an Anonymous Was a Woman Award in 2017.
She has participated in seven group shows at Jen Bekman Gallery and her solo show, American Stills, was exhibited in 2004. Fifteen images from this body of work were selected by the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago for the Midwest Photographers Project. She exhibited her portrait series, The Ballad of Sad Young Men, along with work by Francesca Romeo at Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery in 2009. Selections from these two series were included in a survey of Contemporary U.S. Photography at the Houston Fotofest 2010 Biennial.
Her work also has been exhibited at the LiShui Photography Festival and the LiShui Museum of Photography, Chicago Cultural Center, Terra Museum of American Art, Musee Departmental d’ Art Contemporain de Rouchechourt, Center for Fine Art Photography, Griffin Museum, Reece Museum, Mint Museum Uptown, Filter Space, Hyde Park Art Center, Detroit Contemporary, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 3rd Ward Brooklyn, Tyler School of Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of the Arts Gallery 1401, Pascal Gallery, Adrian College Gallery, Central Lakes College Gallery, Joymore Gallery, Butcher Shop Gallery, Gallery 400, Icebox Gallery, Heaven Gallery, David Allen Gallery, Jon Oulman Gallery, Lyceum Theatre Gallery, Dean Jenson Gallery, Moti Hasson Gallery, Randall Scott Gallery, Flanders Gallery, Lilian Rodriguez Gallery, Galeria Valid Foto, ilon Art Gallery, and the Hall of Honor at Montreal’s City Hall.
Stauffer’s work has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New Statesman, The Chicago Reader, The City Pages, The Rake Magazine, The Village Voice, Esquire Magazine, Lavender Magazine, W Magazine, PhotoDot, BOMB Magazine, and Harper’s Magazine. She has contributed to online platforms including The Capra Review; Radar Poetry; Ausgang; Stuart Pilkington’s The Swap, The Chain, and Someone I Know; Humble Arts Foundation’s Group Show; and FlakPhoto’s Making Pictures of People: Recent Perspectives on Photographic Portraiture and Looking at the Land: 21st Century American Views. Her work has been published in The Center for Fine Art Photography’s Portfolio Showcase 10: Looking and Seeing, Nymphoto Books: Conversation Volume 1, Garth Risk Hallberg’s A Field Guide to the North American Family, and Fotofest 2010 Contemporary U.S. Photography with a curatorial essay by Aaron Schuman.