In 2013 I received a Fulbright award based on my wife Jerri Zbiral and I discovering a shoebox of 4×5″ negatives and vintage prints made in India by an anonymous US soldier in India towards the end of WWII. “Following the Box” allowed us to spend 5 months in West Bengal, researching the photos and working with contemporary Indian artists to use the old photos to inspire the creation of new artworks in various disciplines (photography, film, painting, illustration, graphic novel, folk art, mixed-media, installation art.) The resulting exhibit opened in Kolkata, then traveled to Delhi, Chicago and Pasadena; we are seeking additional venues. We received several other grants that afforded us the opportunity to make subsequent trips to India. The images shown here come from those experiences. As residents, rather than tourists, we got to know various communities intimately, sharing meals, ceremonies and stories. It reinforced my sense of wonder that we exist at all and made it abundantly clear that it is the sum of every culture, every person, every belief, every story that makes us human.
My photography asks viewers to go into the frame and look around. In most images there are two things on which to focus: the boy and the idol; the boy and the tiger paintings etc. This mirrors my general way of looking at the world around me–there is just so much to see. Photography provides a way to process and interpret the world, which I try and share with others.
ALAN TELLER is a 2nd-generation photographer. He studied anthropology at Queens College, C.U.N.Y. and in a Ph.D. program at Indiana University. Alan founded the Inner-City Photo Workshop, a storefront center for high-school students whom the system had failed and directed several photography-in-the-schools projects for the Illinois Arts Council that resulted in the book ‘Photography in the Classroom’. Alan was photographic researcher for the Field Museum and founded Teller Madsen, an exhibit design company creating over 100 exhibits nationwide, including Vivian Maier’s Chicago. He received numerous grants for community photography projects and arts and social issues programs; has published some 20 reviews and articles and delivered over 80 presentations on photographic issues. Alan taught photography at Columbia College, Purdue University and the School of the Art Institute. At Lake Forest College, he offered courses on photography and anthropology, public history and museums and exhibits.