Terttu Uibopuu

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Artist Statement

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt describes his music as a way to question the duality of humanity’s sins and forgiveness. I grew up during Soviet Union so I am sympathetic to this idea and therefore interested in the landscape and people that have been ignored or wronged in some way, but despite of it continue to persevere.

 I photograph subtle signs of trauma and recovery in the American South and in Estonia. Photographing in a diaristic manner I’m drawn to the banal and the insignificant sites in both countries such as gas stations, bus stops, parking lots, trees and mounds of concrete. While examining the everyday I also make pictures of strangers and photograph my own family.

 As I feel at home both in America and in Estonia I want to create my own photographic history which combines these two disparate regions. I’m interested in the less sensationalized settings as the two places are recuperating from either a political occupation or a natural disaster. So I go on generating photographic drama while I take a picture of a tree at night time by the Mississippi delta which hurricane Katrina had devastated a decade before, or point a harsh flash at the face of a Russian boxer after losing a match. Following many years of photographing and organizing images from Estonia and America into two separate projects I wonder why does it really matter where the pictures are taken? Since last year I’ve been combining all my work into one series disregarding the geographical location and challenging my own preconceived ideas about Eastern Europe and the South.

 After the fall of Soviet Union my mother became obsessed with the idea of moving to the United States. When I was sixteen she found a boyfriend through an internet dating site and moved to the suburbs of Chicago. Shortly after I arrived we took a road-trip to Florida. I remember most vividly driving through Tennessee, all the radio stations playing Johnny Cash, and Faith Hill intermixed. I was intrigued by the lush and mysterious landscape I saw from the road and devoured everything the car window could offer me. I knew I had to come back some day.

 Since 2006 I have been photographing the landscape and people in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Florida as I’ve also continued to return home to photograph Estonia. I photograph these places because I was exposed to them both, in one way or another through my mother. And although the Southern culture and climate are foreign to me, there is something familiar in people who carry on with pride through a landscape charged with dark history. I’m constantly reminded of a state of recovery both in Estonia and in the South and I seek evidences of it in the everyday. These signs are in the peculiar gazes of young men, in murky water and at the uncleaned holiday table. In all of that I also recognize the desire for survival in a dignified manner which is the driving force for me to keep traveling and learning more about America and my homeland.

 I believe that it’s a real privilege to go out in the world which is puzzling, photograph it and then have the freedom to create a completely new world out of those images. As I continue to photograph I have also started working on a book, which is visible in the last five slides. Through editing and sequencing a book I am able to further my need to create new meanings and explore the unfamiliar ties between these two countries.



2009-­2011 Yale University School of Art, MFA Photography

2005-­2008 Columbia College Chicago, BFA Photography

2003-­2005 McHenry County College, Crystal Lake, Illinois

Selected exhibitions


Video Snack, Regina Rex, NY


Yale Instagram Show, Sushi Gallery, NY


2nd AIM Biennial Bronx Museum of the Arts

Stitched and Glued: The Handmade Photo Book, Riverside Arts Center


Photoville, Dumbo, New York


Yale MFA Photography 2011, Nicole Klagsbrun Project, New York

Yale MFA Photography 2011, Yale University Green Hall Gallery


For No One But Us, Living Room Gallery, Chicago


artXposium “One of Its Kind”, West Chicago Library

Albert P. Weisman Memorial Scholarship Exhibition, Hokin Gallery

Hic et Nunc, Co-­Prosperity Sphere

Chicago Group Show, Schneider Gallery

Me, Myself & I, Freeark Gallery

Il Stato Un Regalo Gradito, South Union Arts


Bridge Art Fair, Orleans Street Gallery, Miami

New Work solo†show†, Epping Gallery, McHenry County College

Chicago Art Open, Iron Street Studios

NORD ART 2007, Büdelsdorf, Germany

The Space Between solo†show†, [C]Spaces Gallery

World Enigma International Student Art Show, Columbia College Library

Me, Me, Me, Orleans Street Gallery

Collaboration, Vespine Gallery & Studios


4th Annual Grants Exhibition & Silent Auction: Photography, The Illinois

State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts


Blue Sky Project – Final Show


It’s Not About the Art, Fundraising/ Art Show

Prizes and awards


Richard Benson Scholarship


Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Book Arts workshop Scholarship

Albert P. Weisman Memorial Scholarship


Chicago Art Open, Curator’s Choice / Artist to Watch

Albert P. Weisman Memorial Scholarship


4th Annual Grants Exhibition & Silent Auction: Photography, Honoree

Kodak Professional Photography Scholarship


Julie White Photography Scholarship

Residencies and fellowships


Artist in the Marketplace, Bronx Museum of the Arts


Alice Kimball Traveling Fellowship, Yale University

The Tierney Fellowship


Haystack Mountain School of Crafts


2013 “An Education”, Estonian Art magazine

2011 The Book Remains the Same, Yale University School of Art

2007 Boys and Girls, 6×6 photo book series, Columbia College Chicago

Work experience

2014-­present Wesleyan University, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art

2012-­present International Center of Photography, Faculty


2015 Visiting critic, Estonian Art Academy (Eesti Kunstiakadeemia)

2013 Creative Diaspora, artist talk

2012 Estonian Art Academy (Eesti Kunstiakadeemia), venia†legendi†lecture

2011 Artist talk, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

2008 Visiting artist, Columbia College Chicago

2008 Artist talk, Chicago Artist’s Coalition

2007 Artist talk, McHenry County College