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Alumni return to display photos

The Carlson Gallery hosts a well-attended reception for the photographers and writers in the most recent exhibition, “Dissent,” on Nov. 2. Gallery guests included Isela Peña-Rager and Raffi Zinzalian, two of the alumni photographers whose work was being shown. Alpha Chi co-sponsored the reception with the photography department and the writing program. / photo by Kelley Maggiulli

The Carlson Gallery hosts a well-attended reception for the photographers and writers in the most recent exhibition, “Dissent,” on Nov. 2. Gallery guests included Isela Peña-Rager and Raffi Zinzalian, two of the alumni photographers whose work was being shown. Alpha Chi co-sponsored the reception with the photography department and the writing program. / photo by Kelley Maggiulli

Karo Chakhlasyan
Arts Editor

New memories were made while old memories hung on the walls of the Carlson Gallery on Nov. 2, as alumni, students and faculty members gathered at the opening reception of “Alumni Allegories: Dissent.”

The works were a collaborative project between alumni of the photography program and students of Professor of Creative Writing Sean Bernard.

“It was a great experience not only for them as writers to sort of try to work with someone else’s text but to divorce their ego of what their working on, which I think is a good thing for a writer to do,” said Bernard.

After discussions between Professor of Photography Gary Colby and Bernard in May, Colby began to contact alumni to receive different photos.

He asked each of the 22 alumni photographers to create allegorical images based on the theme of dissent.

“We talked about different ways to do Ekphrasis, which is the actual writing about visual arts,” said Bernard.

Bernard let his students choose photographs for which they felt a particular affinity.

One of the images in the gallery featured a photograph of a woman taking a photo of vintage cameras with her iPhone.

“My whole thing was that I wanted to capture the evolution of photography and now how it’s gone to everybody’s cellphone,” alumnus Kelly Rivas said. “Everybody with a cellphone is a photographer.”

Enthusiasm from students and alumni was apparent at the reception. The photographers brought in their own tales of their the evolution from students to alumni while taking a step back to experience old memories from their college days.

Alumnus Veero Derkarabetian’s photo displayed a photo of his baby girl crying with a bottle aimed toward her face, the photo worked well to show some of his old classmates a new chapter in his life.

“She then escalated from level two to level 10 in one hour,” Derkarabetian said of shooting the photo. “After a while we had to stop.”

Another photo in the gallery featured a stern looking man sitting down in front of the castle at Disneyland reading “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy juxtaposed with a gleeful crowd.

The image came from an impromptu photo shoot set up by alumna Rhiannon Mim through text messages to her friends who happened to be at the park on the same day she was.

“I was trying to be very satirical with my image,” Mim said.

Alumnus Raffi Zinzalian, the first graduate of the photography program, is also part of the exhibit.

“When I heard there was going to be a photojournalism major opening, I immediately changed my major,” Zinzalian said.

He also remembered when the lab was in the Supertents in 1976.

The alumni also reminisced back to their days as students with Colby.

“We always knew that if Gary really loves you, he pushes you really hard,” Mim said. “He always pushed us very hard. He said if he didn’t make us cry he didn’t do his job.”

Bernard and Colby have talked about future plans to incorporate different works between students.

“We jokingly discussed having photographers doing the writing and writers doing photography,” said Bernard. “Some photographers in the background booed and hissed which was amusing.”

Future collaboration between Bernard and Colby’s classes have not yet been talked about.

“We haven’t talked about that but that sounds like fun but I wouldn’t bring it up because I’m not secure enough with my vanity to say here let me write something to be displayed.”

“Alumni Allegories: Dis­sent” runs through Dec. 7. The Carlson Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Karo Chakhlasyan could be reached at karo.chakhlasyan@laverne.edu.

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