Courtesy Photo / gvsu.edu
Flyer for the senior thesis for photography

Courtesy Photo / gvsu.edu Flyer for the senior thesis for photography

Rebekah Young

Amanda Murphy remembers sitting on her father’s lap as a child while flipping through his photo albums and has since realized the profound effect it had on her life.

“He spoke so passionately about his images,” said Murphy, a Grand Valley State University photography major. “He would recall the situation, the people involved and why he photographed the subject the way he did. I thought it would be amazing to have such an enthusiasm for a career you love.”

Jessica Caron, a fellow photography major, recalls travelling to Alaska to study the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. As part of the photography committee, she helped document the journey through her images.

“It was one of the first times I can remember being confident in myself,” she said. “My interest in photography grew to the point where I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”

These moments, among others, have inspired several GVSU students to pursue creative careers in photography and graphic design. Years later, they are now preparing to leave the university halls and enter the real world.

But before these students turn their tassels at graduation, GVSU’s photography and graphic design students will celebrate their artistic achievements at the annual senior thesis exhibition.

The “Bling! Flash! Art!” exhibition will showcase the work of 12 photography students from the School of Communications and 10 graphic design students from the Department of Art and Design.

The opening reception will be today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Grand Gallery Balcony at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids as part of GVSU’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The student artwork will be on exhibit from Wednesday to Dec. 11.

“This is an opportunity to get our work publicity and recognition by the city as well as by our friends and family,” said Alexandria Baszler, a graphic design student whose thesis piece, “Silhouette,” comments on the state of the current U.S. public education system.

Murphy’s senior thesis piece, “Tinted Dispositions,” focuses on color as the subject of her image. Caron’s “Definition: Happiness” artwork, which studies the meaning of happiness, will also be displayed at the exhibit.

“It is a great opportunity to view amazing work created by fellow students,” Murphy said of the exhibition. “Most students are unaware of how impressive the photography program is at GVSU. And for those struggling, it proves there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will graduate and you can do it with style.”

With graduation in view, the students are starting to look toward their futures. Murphy will continue her current work as a wedding photographer and hopes to open a photography studio. Baszler plans to promote sustainable design practices — she cited the Art and Design program’s determination for continued improvement and quality as key to her success outside of school.

“That determination continuously provides me with a competitive advantage both personally and in the workplace,” she said.

After graduation, Caron said she wishes to travel, gain further insights on the definition of happiness and publish her own book.

“I’ve had an incredible learning experience over the past four years,” Caron said. “The School of Communications has expanded my way of thinking, and the photography program has heightened my way of seeing. I feel well-prepared for any adventure post-graduation life brings me.”

Gallery hours for the exhibition are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free to the public.

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