Gallery of Art | University of Northern Iowa

“Séance: Photographs by Shannon Taggart”

January 17, 2023 to February 24, 2023

Organized by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in collaboration with the Pensacola Museum of Art.

There will be a lecture by the artist Shannon Taggart on Wednesday, February 8 at 6:00 p.m. in KAB 111. A book signing and opening reception will follow. Sponsored in part by The North America Review.

Selections from Taggart's book Séance are featured in the Fall 2022 issue of the North American Review, which has been housed at the University of Northern Iowa since 1969. The NAR is the oldest literary magazine in the United States.

For the past twenty years American artist Shannon Taggart (born 1975) has documented contemporary Spiritualist practices and communities in the United States, England, and Europe. The resulting body of work examines the relationship of Spiritualism to human celebrity, its connections to art, science, and technology, and its intrinsic bond with the medium of photography.

Like Spiritualism, photography was a development of the mid-nineteenth century. The religion seized on the new medium as a tool for revealing the existence of spirits, but for non-believers the ghostly forms that materialized in spirit photographs proved nothing more than darkroom trickery. While this double-sided coin of belief and skepticism haunts the histories of both photography and Spiritualism, Taggart’s photographs do not take sides. Often made in darkened rooms, they are characterized by otherworldly blurs, chance flares and orbs, and entrancing portraits cast in glowing colors. Taking on the role of participant observer, Taggart bears witness with her camera to an unseen world of belief lying just beyond the fringes of everyday reality.

Shannon Taggart is an artist and author based in St. Paul, MN. Her photographs have been exhibited and featured internationally, including within the publications TIME, New York Times

Magazine, Discover, and Newsweek. Her work has been recognized by Nikon, Magnum Photos and the Inge Morath Foundation, American Photography and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace. Taggart’s monograph, Séance (Fulgur Press, 2019) was listed as one of TIME magazine’s Best Photobooks of 2019.

All events are free and open to the public. We recommend wearing masks and social-distancing while in the gallery. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and also by appointment.


Image #1: Shannon Taggart, Medium Kevin Lawrenson demonstrates trance to a small group of developing mediums. Montcabirol, France, 2014. © Shannon Taggart. Courtesy of the Artist.

Image #2: Shannon Taggart, Bent Spoon apport gift from medium Anders Åkesson, England, 2013. © Shannon Taggart. Courtesy of the Artist.

Image #3: Shannon Taggart, Medium Annette Rodgers participates in direct radio voice experiment led by medium and tutor Kim Moore-Cullen, in a circle that includes other bereaved parents. Arthur Findlay College, England, 2018. © Shannon Taggart. Courtesy of the Artist.