Artist Biography

Joel Phillip Geffen

 Artist Biography



Group exhibition.  Creole Gallery, Lansing, Michigan.  May 2010.

Individual exhibition:  “Landscapes of Tranquility.”  Wanderer’s Café and Teahouse, East Lansing, Michigan.  August 2010-August 2011.

Individual exhibition:  “Selected Landscapes.”  Shiawassee Arts Council, Owosso, Michigan.  March-August 2011.

Group exhibition.  Dow Museum of Science and Art“Painterly Eucalyptus” was accepted by jury for display.  Midland, Michigan. July 2012.

Individual exhibition:  “Tranquility and Motion.”  Prima Civitas.  Lansing, Michigan.  December 2012-March 2013.

Group exhibition.  My multi-image display was “Natural Abstractions.”  Community Television Network.  Ann Arbor, Michigan.  March 2013-June 2013.

Group exhibition.  Riverside Arts Center. “Point of Departure” was accepted by jury for display.  Ypsilanti, Michigan.  July 2013.

Individual exhibition:  “Abstracting Nature.”  Upcoming in 2014.  Kerrytown Concert House.  Ann Arbor, Michigan.



Gallery Representation

Lansing Art Gallery, Lansing, Michigan.

Northside Galleries, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Riverside Arts Center, Ypsilanti, Michigan


Additional Representation

The Collection, Los Angeles, California



“Photography Tour Prospects on the Yakama Nation reservation.”   Presented a preliminary business plan to managers of the Yakama Nation’s Wildlife Program.  The objective was to develop ecotourism ventures on the reservation in the form of wildlife photography tours.  June 6, 2010.

“Social Documentary and Cultural Representations:  Arizona’s Route 66.”  Lecture given at  Lansing Community College.  Lansing, MI.  February 14, 2011.

“I Know a Real Indian When I See One:  Contesting Identity and Land Management in the Arctic     National Wildlife Refuge.”  Denis Edmunds Cosgrove Memorial.  A symposium entitled

“Landscapings, Iconographies, and Beyond.”  Department of Geography.  University of California, Los Angeles.  May 23, 2008.

“Looking at Both Sides:  Gwitch’in and Inupiat Perspectives on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Controversy.”  An outreach presentation on behalf of Michigan State University’s Department of Religious Studies.  Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, Michigan.  April 6, 2008.

“Art Matters:  Pictorial Negotiations of Identity and Place in a Native American Struggle for Survival.”  Southern Humanities Council Conference, Louisville, KY, February 2007.

“Picture This: The Role of Iconography in Contemporary Yakama Identity Formation.”  Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, GA., November 2003.

“Icons, Identity, and Ideas of Nature in a Native American Community.”  Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, New Orleans, LA., March 2003.



Provided images for an article produced by Edible Portland magazine in 2011.  The story detailed how the Yakama Nation bison herd is used, in part, as a source of healthy food for tribal members suffering from the ravaging effects of diabetes.

Photographer for the Yakama Nation Wildlife Program.  Documented fast-paced action during the capture and release of pronghorn antelope.  An article written by The Yakama Nation Review, entitled “Pronghorn Prancing on Yakama Lands” featured my images on January 31, 2011.

Vendor for the Yakama Nation since 2011. Processed and finalized images for publication in brochures, professional power point presentations, interpretive trail signs, calendars, newspapers, and third-party magazines.

Created and processed select wildlife images to CMYK printing and format specifications for Hunting the Rez magazine.  These photographs were used to promote observing, photographing, and the limited hunting of various bird species on the reservation.  May 2011.



Digital Imaging Technology.  Lansing Community College, Lansing, MI.  2010. Honored with the annual Eric Zimmerman Visual Arts Award for my fine art black and white landscape photograph entitled “Long Dune.”

Cultural Geography.  University of California, Los Angeles.  Los Angeles, CA.  Ph.D. Candidate.   2000-2003.  Emphasis:  Visual Theory, American Landscape Painting and Ideas of Nature, Native American and Native Alaskan history and identity.  Dissertation topic:  How Native Alaskans create and use images to help shape public opinion and federal land use policies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Religious Studies.  University of California, Santa Barbara.  Santa Barbara, CA. Ph.D completed.  2005.  Emphasis:  American and European Landscape Painting, American ideas of nature, Native American history, History and philosophy of science.  Dissertation topic:  The role of religious and spiritual values in the practice of science among fish and wildlife biologists.

Religious Studies.  Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA.  1997.  Master of Arts.  Emphasis:  History of Religions, Visual representations of religious ideas about nature in art and architecture.  Thesis:  Sacred landscapes in paleolithic, neolithic, medieval Christian, and Chinese Taoist traditions.

Resource Management.  Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA.  1989.  Master of Science.  Thesis:  Geography and evolution of land-use and society in El Salvador.  Honored with the annual Distinguished Thesis Award.

American History and Park Management.  University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.  1984.  Bachelor of University Studies degree.  Emphasis:  American history, Native American history, and Federal and State park management.



Assistant Professor.  2006-2009.  Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Developed and taught courses on Native American religious traditions and on religion and environment.

Visiting Assistant Professor.  2005-2006.  University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Taught Introduction to Native American Studies, American Indian Ecological
Perspectives, American Indian Education, and a special topics course examining visual representations of contemporary Native identity and place.

Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies.  Summer 2005.  University of California, Santa Barbara, CA.  Taught Introduction to Native American Religious Traditions.

Adjunct Professor, Department of Philosophy.  Spring 2005.  Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA.  Taught Introduction to World Religions and Contemporary Ethical Issues.

Adjunct Professor, College of Social Studies.  Fall, 2004.  Henry Ford Community College, Dearborn, MI.  Taught World Religions to culturally diverse students.

Teaching Assistant, Department of Geography.  2000 – 2002.  University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA.  Taught Cultural Geography and Biogeography.

Teaching Assistant.  1998 – 2000.  Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Geography, and the Environmental Studies Program.  University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.  Developed curriculum for and taught Native American Religious Tradition courses.

Instructor, Senior Ventures Program.  1995.  Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA.  Taught an “Earth and Spirit” seminar, discussing ways that various religious traditions conceive of and visually represent the sacred in nature.

Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography. 1991 – 1995.  Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WATaught World Geography courses.


Photography Memberships

Professional Photographers of America (PPA).  2010-Present.

National Association of Photoshop Professional (NAPP).  2010-Present.