About PhotoSpiva


Spiva is an independent community arts center that traces its roots to a group of artists who formed the Ozark Artists Guild in 1948. Businessman George A. Spiva, who believed opportunities in the arts should be available to all, helped the Guild procure its first home.

Spiva serves a large geographic area that stretches from southwest Missouri into southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas. Its mission is to promote the arts, to nurture creative expression, and to stimulate and educate diverse audiences within the four-state region.

The exhibition, education, and cultural center named in his honor is located in the heart of downtown Joplin, Missouri. It’s a place to see art, to learn about art, to create art, to collect art. It’s a place to be inspired.

About the Competition

PhotoSpiva is a national competition hosted annually by Spiva Center for the Arts. Founded in 1977, PhotoSpiva has become the longest-running photographic competition of its kind in the U.S. As stated by the founders, the objective of PhotoSpiva is to “present an exhibition of excellence in photography, celebrating the scope and vigorous activity of today’s contemporary photographers.”

Co-Founder Jim Mueller stated, “We have intentionally avoided any categorization of either photographers or their work in setting forth the criteria for this competitive.” PhotoSpiva welcomes any photographic process as long as it is original artwork and has not been previously exhibited at Spiva Center for the Arts. This philosophy has created an unbiased forum for exhibiting and educating photographers. The PhotoSpiva prospectus, promotional materials and exhibition brochures are distributed to professional photographers, emerging artists, educators, students, and amateur photography enthusiasts throughout the United States.

You’ll see everything from digital images to traditional black and white to hand tinted photographs made with a pinhole camera. The exhibit is almost a snapshot of current issues and practices in contemporary photography.

PhotoSpiva 2004 Juror Therese Mulligan, PhD Coordinator for the MFA Program in Imaging Arts-Photography, Rochester Institute of Technology

Past Jurors

  • Steven J. Cromwell, 1977
  • John Sexton, 1978
  • Jean S. Tucker, 1979
  • Jim Alinder, 1980
  • Bob Kolbrener, 1981
  • Olivia Parker, 1982
  • Keith F. Davis, 1983
  • Carrol T. Hartwell, 1984
  • Mary Virginia Swanson, 1985
  • Lewis Koch, 1986
  • Gloria Baker Feinstein, 1987
  • Jack Welpott, 1988
  • Charles T. Butler, 1989
  • Jon Burris, 1990
  • Sally Gall, 1991
  • Evon Streetman, 1992
  • Keith F. Davis, 1993
  • Dennis Carlyle Darling, 1994
  • Tom Southall, 1995
  • Bill Thomas, 1997
  • Connie Imboden, 1998
  • George Tice, 1999
  • Keith F. Davis, 2000
  • Elizabeth Opalenik, 2001
  • Walter J. Bailey, 2002
  • Sal Lopes, 2003
  • Therese Mulligan, Ph.D., 2004
  • Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, 2005
  • Keith Carter, 2006
  • John Paul Caponigro, 2007
  • Rod Slemmons, 2008
  • Jim Stone, 2009
  • Deborah Klochko, 2010
  • Anthony Bannon, Ph.D., 2011
  • Andrew L. Moore, 2012
  • Natasha Egan, 2013
  • Dornith Doherty, 2014
  • Andrew L. Moore, 2012
  • Anthony Bannon, Ph.D., 2011
  • Deborah Klochko, 2010
  • Jim Stone, 2009
  • Shannon Thomas Perich, 2015
  • Sean Kernan, 2016
  • Örjan Henriksson, 2017

I greatly admire Spiva’s dedication to this long-running competitive exhibition. It was a privilege to be the first juror of the 21st century, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is still going strong at the turn of the 22nd!

Keith F. Davis, 2000

I was honored when the request came to jury this wonderful exhibition for Spiva Center for the Arts. Early on in my career I entered many such events to see how my work compared to those around the country. I think it is an important step for beginning and mid-career artists to help build a resume and I was always grateful that shows such as these are being sponsored.

Elizabeth Opalenik, 2001

Competitions such as PhotoSpiva offer the unique opportunity to celebrate and nurture the professional and amateur alike.

Therese Mulligan, Ph.D., 2004

At the end of the day when all is said and done, I tell you unashamedly that I love exhibitions such as this. It shows the magnificent democratic tradition of image making is alive and well!

Keith Carter, 2006