One hundred and seventy photographs, in both color and black-and-white, taken with both digital and analog cameras, are 170 “moments” currently on display at the Palmer Gallery in the College Center. “The Interminable Pleasure of the Gaze” is an exhibition of student photography from ART 212, 213 and 214 this year – three photography classes offered by the Art Department.
“The Interminable Pleasure of the Gaze” had its opening on April 24, 2015. Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art Judith Linn, an organizer of the show, is also the instructor of the classes. On the motivation behind the exhibition, she said, “This show is a part of the educational experience. Exhibiting a student’s work on the wall, in a gallery space, is very different from hanging them up in the class or in their own room.”
With Linn’s advisory, the photography students set up the exhibition by themselves. They were encouraged to bring 6-10 photographs each, depending on how many classes they have taken, and decide the order of display.
Speaking about the photography show, Olga Voyazides ’16 said, “There is a lot of variety in subject matter and aesthetic in the show this year, showing a broad range of the photographic talent we have at Vassar. It is so satisfying to see my classmates’ work all up in one space, and exciting to know the larger Vassar community – student, parents, professors, and visitors – is seeing your work.”
Voyazides is also one of the students that have taken all three Photography classes. She said, “Judy’s class is my favorite I’ve taken so far at Vassar. I love the community aspect of the class, producing work at the same time and comfortably critiquing one another’s photographs.”
Kevin Gish ’16, another student whose photographs are on display, commented, “Judy’s class is a real treat. Her relaxed yet informative mentoring inspires confidence and creativity. Working with film for the first time, I was apprehensive about understanding the process, but she explained every step with grace and aplomb.”
Gish continued with how he progressed as a student in Linn’s course, “Having crossed the threshold into some relative skill, I’m now infatuated with perfecting the photographic print. As someone who was always afraid of attempting visual art, this class has given me the chance to create tangible reflections of my singular perspective, which I am very grateful for.”
ART 212 and 213 are respectively named “Photography I” and “Photography II,” along with ART 214, which is “Color Digital Photography.” In ART 212 and 213, students work with 35mm film camera to take black and white photographs. They learn how to develop films and produce analog prints with fiber papers and photo chemicals in the dark room.
Scanning the negatives and printing digitally is an additional feature of ART 213. Linn said, “Students figure out how photographs work in ART 212; then in ART 213, they learn how to start a dialogue with them. In ART 214, students shoot color photographs in raw, then use Bridge and Photoshop to make prints.”
Joseph DeGrand ’17, a student who took ART 214 last semester, commented on his experience in the course, “I loved Judy’s class – the sheer amount of prints it makes you produce really allows you to experiment a lot with style and content. I took photos in places that I never would have thought would be so fruitful. I loved the critique aspect of it as well.”
DeGrand continued, “The mood of critiques is almost entirely dependent on the professor teaching the class and I’ve had bad experiences in the past where it turned into a toxic environment that ended up stifling creativity rather than providing a space for constructive criticism. But Judy approaches it with such a casual yet critical air and the stakes were so low that we were able to have actual conversations and discussions of photography that helped me grow as a photographer.”
On the most satisfying work that he hung up for ‘The Interminable Pleasure of the Gaze’,” DeGrand remarked, “The photos I am most proud of all came over fall break. One of them is the underside of a fire tower on top of a mountain in Woodstock.”
Continuing, DeGrand commented, “It was so foggy up there that when my friends and I were on top of the tower, we couldn’t see anything. The wind was howling so hard that we couldn’t hear much of anything either. It was something straight out of Wordsworth’s wet dreams.”
Some students, DeGrand being one of which, take pleasure in architectural photos, while others adore portraits. Regarding her most satisfying work at the exhibition, Voyazides said, “It is a picture of my dad standing in a towel by a pool! I love taking portraits and it just made it more special for me that it was of my father.”
Isabel Larrow ’16, a student in ART 213, also commented on her own work, “I like the photos I take of my friends because I feel I can capture our relationship on film.”
Commenting on her classes and the show, Linn remarked, “I think my students are brilliant. It is amazing that even those who are just beginning can make incredible photographs. Their works at the show are very energetic.”
On the criteria that she uses to define a good photograph, Linn continued, “It should make you think about what’s in front of you, be aware of the differences between the subjects on the photograph and in reality. It should create a dialogue with one’s perception of the world. It stays in your head; you remember it.”