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Wilson offers a unique perspective

“From the Car,” an exhibition of photographs of people in their cars by Lillian Elaine Wilson, is on view in the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography. Wilson, who works at the J. Paul Getty Museum, took the pictures during her travel time commuting to work from Burbank. The reception for Wilson was held in the Carlson Gallery, on Sept. 16 and will be open through Oct. 8./ photo by Warren Bessant

Brittany Lawrence
Staff Writer

Lillian Elaine Wilson debuted her exhibit “From the Car” on Sept. 16 in the University of La Verne’s Carlson Gallery.

Wilson took all of the photos in the exhibit while she was in her car on her long commute.

Many of these spontaneous snapshots were of people driving their own cars, or even people on the street.

“I got the idea for this project from a friend who started a project to get 50 photographers together to document their neighborhoods,” Wilson said. “I branched off into my own project that started just from my drive from Burbank to work at the Getty Museum, to just whenever I am in the car.”

The gallery displayed 30 black and white photos along both sides of a long narrow hallway with lights mounted on the ceiling casting a soft light on each picture.

The pictures showed a different perspective of what people do in their cars while driving.

One even featured a driver with a mascot-like bunny head on, and another of a lady seemingly picking her nose while stopped.

“I think it is interesting that she took what you see every day and made it art, and put it in a gallery,” Rebecca Valdez, senior liberal studies major, said, “I like it a lot.”

All of the photos were black and white, on a white background, and then displayed on top of gray, which helped the beautiful images to stand out in the hallway.

“I always take pictures in black and white because I come from a traditional photo background,” Wilson said. “I think black and white adds another layer of surrealism, it adds a different tone.”

The opening event had a good turnout of attendants but was not too crowded in the narrow hallway.

Guests mingled and discussed the photographs while snacking on pastries and fruit.

Many of the guests were students who were attending for their photography class.

“I came to this event today as a requirement for my class,” Mitchell Aleman, freshman photography major, said. “These pictures are different. They are simple but elegant. It is not really the style of pictures that I take”

Like many of the students who came for their photography class, Wilson too took a similar class in college.

“In college I started off as a psychology major at Indiana Central University,” Wilson said. “As a freshman you were required to take a class outside your major. I took photo and that was it. I changed my major to photography and transferred to Purdue University.”

The photographs were all taken with a digital camera, which is still a fairly new technology for the artist, who was used to shooting with a more traditional film camera.

“In the year 2008, I finally transitioned to a digital camera,” Wilson said. “I enjoy mixing the traditional with the digital, with my black and white photos. I do however still have my dark room.”

Wilson took an everyday event, as simple as driving to work, and transformed it into something more interesting and personal.

Brittany Lawrence can be reached at

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