Did you know that there are photographers everywhere you look in the College of Fine Arts? From theatre and music majors and photography majors themselves, many students find photography to be a fantastic creative outlet.
Maryan Hassan, a junior at Arizona, decided to find a way to allow students of any major or discipline an opportunity to get their work showcased.
“The student-focused series is a series on the CCP Instagram page that features students exploring, creating, and connecting through photography,” Hassan said. “The sole purpose was to help create a digital space that allows us to cultivate and foster a supportive platform and community for student artists.”
While working as an intern for the Center of Creative Photography, Hassan and her mentor Dr. Meg Jackson Fox, the center’s associate curator, academic & public programs, developed the idea for the series.
“Our goal was to create a program that centers the work of student artists while also extending the platform to local Tucson artists as well,” Hassan said. “The CCP has numerous opportunities for individuals to get involved with photography, but we wanted to create an initiative that highlighted and prioritized students.”
The students who get the opportunity to be showcased are presented with many learning experiences and chances to grow.
“[The students] get to experiences what it is like to work collaboratively with a team to showcase and advocate for their work,” Hassan said. “It provides them with a space to indulge in their passion and share it with everyone.”
Jonathan (MJ) Barbee
For senior theatre arts major Jonathan (MJ) Barbee, being a part of the student-focused series means getting a chance to try different art forms aside from his primary medium of music and acting.
“It’s the first time my photography has ever been displayed like this. It’s pretty awesome,” Barbee said. “I want people to walk away feeling inspired or creative or angry for that matter. I just want it to evoke something in someone.”
Barbee also reminds budding photographers that they do not need anything special to get started. Just a passion and a will to grow.
“You don’t need a fancy camera or lighting equipment to be a great photographer,” Barbee said. “If you take a picture and it feels great but doesn’t particularly look “great”, then it’s a great photo. It’s great because of how it made you feel.”
Alongside being a way to get your work showcased, the student-focused series allows student artists to meet and collaborate with one another.
Sophomore photography major, Sam Potter, showcased a series of photos that depicted insecurities and assumptions about particular groups of individuals that were then projected on to model’s faces and bodies.
“These topics are so important to me and so important in today’s society that any chance that others might see them and be inspired to take action means so much,” Potter said. “It is so cool that I get to have my work showcased among so many other talented artists.”
The student-focused series is not just limited to undergraduate students. Leah Netsky is a 2020 School of Art MFA alumna who showcased work from her Hollow Graphic Project, which features 11 musicians’ responses to photographs of patterns, such as berries and bubbles, as “graphic” musical scores.
“This past year, it has been difficult to find venues for physical exhibitions, so I appreciated having a virtual platform to showcase some of my work,” Netsky said. “I always hope my work helps people think more playfully and subconsciously.
Hassan said that developing and making the series a reality was an amazing experience.
“The most rewarding part was how willing the student artists were in sharing their artwork and even written pieces with me and the CCP,” Hassan said. “I see photography as an intimate love language that allows people to connect with each other beyond words- and it meant a lot for artists to trust in the process of sharing their work with a wider audience.”
As the series ramps up for its return in the Fall 2021 semester, Hassan hopes that Arizona students and Tucson community members alike take advantage of the chance to get their work showcased or to enjoy new art.
“Photography is all about inspiration and connecting through different elements that inspire us to create,” Hassan said. “I hope people feel inspired and connected to the work and the artists that are featured on the CCP page.”
The student-focused series can be viewed on the Center for Creative Photography’s Instagram account, @cnterforcreativephoto. If you are interested in becoming a part of the series, contact email@example.com.