Nude photographer visits KU

By Ashley Hocking

In the mornings when Arno Minkkien is getting ready for work, the first thing he does is get naked.

Arno Minkkien is a 70-year-old Finnish-American photographer that has photographed his nude form in nature for the past 4 decades.

“I never mean to be scandalous,” Minkkien said. “I take nude self-portraits to communicate the fluidity between nudity and nature.”

Minkkien gave a presentation about his collective body of photographic work at the University of Kansas (KU) in Spooner Hall at 10 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2016.

“He understands and communicates the plight of the photographer and the artist,” said Daniel Coburn, assistant professor of photo media at KU.

Minkkien started off his career as a copy writer at an advertising firm on Madison Avenue in New York. When he was assigned to create an advertisement for the Minolta camera, he decided to change his career path.

“I started to believe my own copy writing,” Minkkien said. “I realized I could make what happens inside of my mind, happen inside of a camera.”

Minkkien uses a 9-second shutter release, which allows for him to pose for the images.  He does not look through his camera’s viewfinder before he takes each image.

“There is no photographer in my work,” Minkkien said. “I am the subject. The camera does the work.”

None of Minkkien’s images are manipulated in Photoshop. His photographs are black and white urban images that “capture the contemporary spirit,” according to Minkkien.

Minkkien believes there is an element of timelessness to his body of work because of the continuity of the subject and elements of nature.

“There is no age to a photograph when it is just the landscape and the body,” Minkkien said.

Minkkien self-portraits are exclusively taken in the nude, but he has never viewed this as a restriction upon his creative abilities.

“Out of that narrow tunnel, you’re forced to create,” Minkkien said.

Minkkien was born in Helsinki, Finland and immigrated to the United States when he was 6-years-old. He has traveled to 21 countries, including the Czech Republic, Brazil, Spain, Lithuania and Canada, over the past 40 years to create his body of work.

“I want to be able to travel the world one day, like he did, to expand my horizons and my portfolio,” said sophomore Lauren Muth, a photo media student at KU that attended Minkkien’s presentation.

At the age of 68, Minkkien was awarded the Lucie Award for Achievement in Fine Art in 2013. Two years later, he received the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He considers these great feats to have accomplished at an advanced stage in his life.

According to the Guggenheim Foundation’s website, Minkkien’s photographs have been featured in 100 individual shows and nearly 200 group exhibitions in galleries and museums worldwide.

“Even though I am a lot older now than when I started taking self-portraits, there is a continuity to my work,” Minkkien said. “I am the same man and this is the same body, but time has changed me.”


University Daily Kansan editors sue University of Kansas official over funding cuts due to content

By Ashley Hocking

The University Daily Kansan’s editors are suing top KU officials for allegedly cutting the newspaper’s funding by $45,000 annually in an attempt to censor its content.

Current editor Vicky Diaz-Camacho, former editor Katie Kutsko and the publication itself are listed as plaintiffs on the lawsuit that was filed on February 5, 2016, according to the Kansan.

The lawsuit claims that Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Tammara Durham, approved a KU Student Senate decision to reduce funding by $45,000 per year.

Jane Tuttle, Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Genelle Belmas, a professor of the First Amendment and Society class at KU, said that the cutting funding based on content is a violation of the First Amendment. Belmas is a board member for the Kansan.

“Obviously, the Kansan thinks it has a reasonably good case or it would not waste the time and energy going to court,” Belmas said.

Belmas speculates that the Kansan will use the Supreme Court case Rosenberger v. Rectors of the University of Virginia to make their argument. In this court case, the Supreme Court ruled that the University of Virginia could not decline to fund a religious student magazine because they objected to its content.

The reduced funding led to a number of changes for the Kansan, including the elimination of more than a dozen positions from the Kansan’s staff, said Diaz-Camacho in an article by the Lawrence Journal World.

Junior Mackenzie Eckman is a former staff member of the Kansan who was not rehired to her paid position after the Kansan’s funding was cut. Eckman worked at the Kansan from January 2014 to May 2015 as a Marketing Specialist.

“I think the budget cut had something to do with me not getting rehired my junior year,” Eckman said. “The budget cut made it so that the Kansan couldn’t have as much staff.”

The lawsuit argues that the cut to funding was made as a result of an editorial published in May 2014 that was critical of Student Senate.

“It’s an editorial piece that they are saying caused the cut in funding, but what is a newspaper without a place to express opinions in an opinion section?” Eckman said.

The Kansan editors are asking the court to declare the funding decision a violation of the First Amendment and they are also seeking nominal damages and payment of attorneys’ fees. The court date has not yet been set.

Field trips can be life-changing experiences for some students

By Ashley Hocking

While many students fondly look back upon piling onto yellow school buses for class field trips to the local theater, museum, or zoo, others recall these class field trips as life changing experiences.

Caty Field, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Kansas, is one of these students. Field attended Topeka Collegiate School in Topeka, Kansas, where she was able to go on field trips to Hiefer Ranch in Arkansas and SeaCamp in Florida.

During the field trip to Arkansas in seventh grade, Field experienced firsthand some of the challenges of global poverty and hunger as well as learned how to be part of the solution.

“We lived like we were in a third world country,” Field said. “It was really eye opening.”

During the class trip to SeaCamp in Florida in eighth grade, Field learned about underwater exploration and did a number of water activities, such as diving, sailing and windsurfing.

“We did a sea camp where we learned about marine life,” Field said. “That was really cool. I got to experience things I wouldn’t normally be exposed to in a school setting.”

Megan Anderson, a classmate of Field’s from Topeka Collegiate School, believes the class trips to Arkansas and Florida taught the students valuable life lessons. Anderson is a sophomore at the University of Alabama and a close friend of Field’s.

“I definitely think we learned a lot about global poverty and how lucky we were to be where we were,” Anderson said. “On the second trip, we learned all kinds of stuff about the ocean, sustainability and stuff we didn’t really know about being from Kansas.”

Maddy Gallegos, a friend of Field’s from high school, often heard about the class trips Field took while she was in middle school. Gallegos is a sophomore at the University of Kansas.

“I didn’t even go to middle school with her, but I could tell you that she went there because she talks about it so much,” Gallegos said. “They’re just really cool experiences I wish I had. You don’t get to do things like that very often.”

When Field boarded a yellow school bus to embark on journeys to Arkansas and Florida, she didn’t anticipate how much the class trips would change her life.

“The bonds that we made through these trips still affect me today,” Field said. “I’m still really good friends with a lot of the people who went to school with me. I learned stuff at an earlier age that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t go on these trips.”