GVSU photography students create senior thesis exhibition

By Kate Branum | 12/4/16 10:39pm

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GVL/Kate Branum - Phosphorescent exhibit
by Kate Branum and Kate Branum / The Lanthorn

Grand Valley State University photography students Sue Ackerman, Kristen Hollingsworth, Amanda Lautner, Brianna Overkamp, Autumn Perez, James Redmond, Nicole Trost, Chelsea Whitaker and Mallory Wolfgram have collaborated on the senior thesis exhibition, "Phosphorescent."

Currently on display at the GVSU Art Gallery in the Performing Arts Center on the Allendale Campus, "Phosphorescent" features a variety of themes and images, all reflecting personal interests and experiences of the photographers. The exhibition will be open to the public through Friday, Dec. 9.

Each series of photographs stands on its own, creating a strong sense of diversity. Though the pieces do not coordinate, the photographers arranged the gallery in a way that would not create competition among any of the photographs.

Hollingsworth, a student majoring in photography, classics and English, created the exhibit, “istopia,” pronounced “historia.” The series displays nine original photographs, manipulated and layered to create subtle collages.

“With this series, I wanted to approach it from a little bit more of an interdisciplinary approach and look at the classics because, obviously, if I have this passion for something, I want to exhibit it,” Hollingsworth said. “I focused on not just recreating the classics, but re-envisioning them from a more modern sense. So all the images you see, the background is from an image I had captured when I was in Greece this past summer."

Hollingsworth wanted to take the gods and goddesses from the classical era and place them in a modern setting. Her goal was to emphasize the cultural values associated with those gods and goddesses and bring them back out into the open because many of those values are still relevant to modern society.

Wolfgram created the exhibit, “haunt,” a series featuring a fragile rocking chair and small end table surrounded by black and white photos of old relatives, a dark staircase, porcelain dolls and other eerie photos.

“(My exhibit) is about meaning and how people have different meanings because of associations and experiences with different things,” Wolfgram said. “I put a piece together that meant something to me but allows people to come up with their own meaning of it. My purpose was to be really subjective and let people decide how they feel about it themselves.”

Ackerman, a photography and theater student, channeled her 14 years of theater experience when she created “the play that shall not be named,” an exhibit showcasing behind-the-scenes photographs of the GVSU production, Bard-To-Go.

"Not everyone understands what goes on behind the scenes or at the very beginning (of the production) because a lot of the time, if you see theater you're just seeing the final product,” Ackerman said. “This is just breaking it down, starting from the very beginning."

The photo series features pictures of the cast behind the scenes, including the costume department, the technical department and some humorous shots of cast members.

"It's not always necessarily what you see as the final product, there's a lot more that goes into it. Especially for me, being a technical person in the theater department, some of the stuff that I've done, not everyone knows that it's been done," Ackerman said.

Each student chose a couple photographs from "Phosphorescent" to feature in the photography senior thesis satellite show, an exhibition currently on display in the atrium exhibition space in the Mary Idema Pew Library. The satellite show will be on display through Saturday, Dec. 17.

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