creative research gallery and drawing center
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization





Manifest Scholar in Residence 2023/2024

Isaiah Armstrong

This year Manifest continues a new branch of its residency program—the Manifest Scholar in Residence (SIR). The SIR is now housed at Manifest's new permanent facility 'M1' alongside the Manifest Drawing Center.


Isaiah Armstrong is a Cincinnati native who started teaching himself photography during the summer of 2020 after being gifted a camera by his grandfather. Seeing the photos made by photographers from Lexington like Jon cherry in the wake of the Brenna Taylor verdict, and revisiting his father’'s work opened his eyes to photography and it’s potential to convey interpersonal intimacy, while also touching on the complexities of the human experience in a broader sense.

Before 2020 Isaiah had no experience with the arts, he had been pursing basketball as a career, while also working in the non profit sector with organizations like Public Allies. Isaiah also has a background in working with mentally disabled folks, and doing manual labor such as remodeling and painting homes.

Isaiah was first selected to be Manifest's Scholar-in-Residence  for the 2022-2023 residency. He applied and was awarded a second year as a SIR, and will continue on his trajectory of professional development at Manifest through mid-2024.         

Artist's Statement:

When folks ask me what I like to take pictures of, I often say “people that I love doing things that they love.” It is a sentiment that underlines my approach to photography at large.

For me that seed was planted by my father and his approach to documenting our family and friends as they are. He had a good feel for moments and expression that got to the root of who someone is.

The style of shooting I'm developing for myself seeks to build on that. I have been doing these environmental portraits of my folks for the last 2 years, but after my grandma & grandfather passed at the 2022 I decided to formalize that work into a series called "agape" with the emphasis being placed on our relationship to 1st, 2nd & 3rd spaces and the comfort and the opportunity for openness they can provide.

I see photography as a meditative practice, it functions as means to put myself aside and give myself fully to the present moment. This is something I practice daily in my documentary work, but I didn't have a structured framework for approaching my abstract light/form/color studies in the same way until I came across the concept of contemplative photography. It's the foundational framework I seek to use when teaching kids about the particulars of communicating with the medium of photography, along with the book "Criticizing Photographs" to approach building a shared vocabulary to approach constructive criticism of each others work.

During this residency I plan to work towards large format photography, and making larger 16x20 & 20x24 prints, as well as learning how to develop and print color work.

The Scholar In Residence Program (SIR) at Manifest contrasts with the Artist In Residence Program (MAR) in a number of ways. Primarily the SIR is intended to support the study, practice, and exploration of the artist in one or more focus areas. This may be related to theory, aesthetics/criticism, teaching, studio/curricular operations, or studio-based art making. The nature of each resident's interest and focus will naturally determine the kinds of documentation provided across the year.

As Manifest Scholar in Residence Isaiah will be based out of M1, the new home of the Manifest Drawing Center program, and the future home of The Manifest Center for the Visual Arts, on Central Parkway.

Information on how to apply for future SIR or MAR awards can be found here.



application artwork

application artwork


2022-2023 residency work


Isaiah at M1. June 2023








 Josephine S. Russell
Charitable Trust

Manifest is supported by sustainability funding from the Ohio Arts Council, and through the generous direct contributions of individual supporters and private foundations who care deeply about Manifest's mission for the visual arts.

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2727 woodburn avenue
cincinnati, ohio 45206

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3464 Central Parkway
cincinnati, ohio 45223



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