For nearly 30 years, Michael Simon taught photography at Beloit, documenting the community he called home along the way. Below are a few examples of his student portraits.
Ann Wray Justin’76 studied extensively with Simon and has been making photographs her entire life. As a painter working in pastels, she uses photography to refine her plein air paintings. She also makes composites from series of photos. “Michael encouraged us as individual artists,” she says. “I was interested in series of images and he let me explore that fully. His training was an introduction to composition and to crisp, clear images, and to finding my own style.”
“Michael Simon helped me develop my aesthetic appreciation of photography as an art form, and encouraged and inspired me to explore my own ideas in photographic form. His influence would carry over to my work as a professional independent film producer.”—Nancy Israel’77
Simon photographed Ann Wray Justin’76, left, and Nancy Israel’77 in the 1970s. The two remain friends today.
Brooks Haxton’72, shown in 1974, is a poet, translator, and an English professor at Syracuse University. “I don't recall the making of this portrait. Like most of my photographer friends, Michael was making pictures a lot of the time, and the camera came and went while we interacted.”
Simon remembers Matt Tolmach’86, shown in 1983, as a bright, confident student. Today, Tolmach is a movie producer and the president of Matt Tolmach Productions. The Amazing Spider-Man movies are among the films he has produced.
Micheal Pugh’92, photographed in 1992, died in 2016 at 47. “Mike Pugh was elfin. He was magical, from another world,” Simon remembers. “He was more fitting in the ceramics lab or an Alaskan fishing boat than in a b Beloit college classroom, but he seemed to handle nearly anything.”
“Michael and Carol came to visit their son at college and stopped off at my tiny Lower East Side apartment. I had the feeling that Michael was checking on me to make sure his training had worked. When he pointed his camera at me, I was certain he had X-ray vision, scanning my psyche, per usual.” —John Dolan’82
Detail of a Chinanteco huipil, a hand-woven garment from San Lucas Ojitlán, Oaxaca, now in the Logan Museum’s Bristol Collection. Frances Bristol traveled extensively in Mexico and Guatemala, buying textiles at markets or from weavers and painstakingly documenting each purchase. Her collection came to the Logan between 2006-2014.