The University of Guelph-Humber’s 4th year Image Arts students showcased their work this week at the opening of their Prism Photography Exhibition.
The name Prism is all about colour, and was chosen by the 13 featured-photographers. They decided to pick a theme they could all relate to while still maintaining their personal style, creating 13 uniform yet amazingly unique pairs of photos.
“The way we interpret it is that the way light passes through a Prism, it can create the colours of the rainbow,” says Anysia Solarski, one of the photographers. “It can kind of represent each of us individually and what we wanted to do in terms of our photography.”
Solarski pointed out that not all of the photographers interpreted the theme the same way.
“I do have a really big element of colour, but I know that other people went with lack of colour, but that makes as big of a statement as colour itself.”
One of those students was Shelby Morell, who decided to showcase a pair of black and white photos, in contrast to her classmates.
Morell’s photos are of a friend and her young nephew, and she emphasized that she wants to convey a sense of love, and black and white was the best way to do that. She said the lack of colour in her photos is the first question on everyone’s mind, including her professor.
“I feel as though when … candid pictures of people feeling love are stripped down to black and white they’re… more true,” she says. “It’s not always about symbolic colours or symbolic things, it’s more so just about the feeling.”
This gallery is only a preview of what’s to come from these near-graduates. Their final showcase comes in April at Arta Gallery in Toronto’s Distillery District, where each photographer will display 10 of their photos as opposed to two. While this may not be their grand finale, the students are excited to have their work on display for the public.
“I think this gallery is important for us [because] I think it gives us a little more confidence,” says Michelle Brussolo, whose photos showed different coloured inks dispersing in water. “We’ve been doing galleries now the past couple of years and we’ve been doing them in the studio and it’s not really an actual gallery space. Being in here I think we feel a little more validated.”
The final installment of Prism gives the students a chance to display the culmination of everything they’ve learned in the last four years, not only to other students and faculty at Guelph-Humber, but also to the greater public. The Distillery District is well known in Toronto for its galleries, and Arta is one of the most revered. It is known for promoting colour and daily life through art, which makes it the perfect venue for the message Prism conveys.
Image Arts professor Mina Momeni says that having an opportunity to display your work in a professional setting is important for any photographer, especially photography students about to enter the workforce.
“These days they say everybody has a camera,” she says. “So when they do have this opportunity of showing their pictures in a gallery or somewhere…they share their feelings, they share their art, whatever they’ve created, with other people, and they can enjoy it…These types of exhibitions can help young generations of photographers to share their thoughts with other people.”
One experienced gallery-goer was impressed by the thoughts being shared with her by such young photographers.
“The photos are good,” says Ty Ish. “Some do need improvement, but for students in 4th year, it’s good.”
While some thought there was room for improvement, others were blown away by the work on display.
“I can’t believe these are student photos,” raved onlooker Cameron McConnell. “Other than the smaller scale, it really feels like you’re at a professional gallery. Their work is beautiful.”
No matter whom you spoke to that night, nobody was more proud of the photographers than they were of each other. The 13 Image Arts students have been a tight-knit group for the past two years since separating into their own specialized stream. To Brussolo, it was special to see her 12 classmates develop into the artists they are now, and to watch their style evolve.
“Everyone knows each other, everyone knows how we’ve grown the past couple years,” she says. “It’s kind of cool also because we’re so close and there’s only so many of us, just [saying] ‘that looks like something Anysia would do’ or ‘that looks like something Sergio would do’. This being our graduating gallery, it’s really cool to see where we’ve come.”
Prism runs until March 14th in the Guelph-Humber Gallery. The final Prism Photography Exhibition will run from April 27-30th at Arta Gallery in Toronto’s Distillery District. For more information, check out @PrismGalleryTO on Twitter and Instagram, or visit facebook.com/PrismTO.