The book Ave Maria, a collaboration between Rylan Steele and Nora Wendl, was recently published by Savannah, GA-based independent press Aint–Bad. Steele is a widely exhibited photographer who teaches at Columbus State University (GA) as Associate Professor of Photography. In 2007, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Nora Wendl, currently Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of New Mexico, was Director of the School of Art’s galleries from 2006 to 2008. In addition to publishing in numerous architectural journals, Wendl is co-editor of Contemporary Art about Architecture: A Strange Utility (Ashgate, 2013) along with the Dodd’s Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Associate Director of Research and Graduate Studies, Isabelle Loring Wallace.
Ave Maria is a Catholic-inspired community in a remote area of southern Florida built by Dominos pizza founder Tom Monaghan. Created through the enormous and generous resources of Monaghan, the development has not been realized to its full extent but it does house a small community. The photographs form part of Steele’s investigation into the infrastructure that Monaghan built to support his utopian vision. Wendl wrote a cycle of poems about Ave Maria that accompany Steele’s photographs of the town. In 2015, Steele and Wendl were named finalists for the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize by the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies for their collaboration.