International Photography Provides Cultural Insight
Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
International Education Week is a nationwide effort to foster global awareness; at Boston College, it consisted of an array of events from Nov. 14 to Nov. 18 and included a student photo exhibit titled The World Through Our Eyes. Students who frequent level one of O'Neill Library may have noticed that their cozy study nook underwent a temporary transformation. For just five days, in honor of International Education Week, the gallery was utilized to display student submitted photographs taken abroad.
"The inspiration for the event," says Jonathan Estwing, the BC International Systems Administrator, "[was] to allow all members of the BC community to exhibit their international photography and vision." O'Neill Library was chosen as the ideal location to host this "vision," says Estwing, because it is a central location that has a great deal of traffic. Moreover, the department's working relationship with the library facilitated the production of the project. Kevin Tringale, of O'Neill Library, and Estwing collaborated together to see through the completion of The World Through Our Eyes. Estwing organized the event: establishing the websites, soliciting submissions, and coordinating the printing of the photos (which were all printed by MTS Photography). Estwing hung the exhibit with Tringale, whose "artistic eye was invaluable." Though this was the second year BC presented a photo exhibit as a component of International Education Week, this was Estwing's first time managing it.
From over 150 student submissions, 80 photographs were selected to be featured in The World Through Our Eyes, but Estwing says that he "tried to have as much representation throughout the campus community as possible in [his] selections." Because the only requirements for submission to the gallery were that the photo be international in nature and in some way meaningful to the photographer, the exhibit showcased pictures from all around the world that were taken by students from all grade levels.
The subjects, styles, and locations of the photos were extremely diverse. Certain students were inspired to take pictures of breathtaking landscapes of mountains, deserts, and oceans, while others were moved to photograph the natives – both children and adults – and others still were compelled to capture the unique wildlife. From Scotland, to China, to Australia, and to Africa, students photographed the distinctive magnificence of each culture, and each student did so in their own way, making their work extremely individual.
Displayed on black matting and posted on corkboards throughout the gallery, each photo was exhibited alongside a brief description that included the title, photographer's name, location in the world, and significance to the photographer. By requiring students to reflect on their photo's personal importance, The World Through Our Eyes encouraged both submitters and viewers to consider their own lives in the context of the world around them. One photo by Nick Rellas, CSOM '13, for example, was titled "Peace;" it portrayed a migrant worker's young child in Beijing giving the peace sign with his two small, fragile fingers. Rellas realized that despite the child's timidity, the child was trying to communicate with him by using "an international sign with the same meaning across any barrier."
Adriana Henquen, A&S '12, was similarly inspired. Her photo, "Chefchaouen Chat Noir," was taken while she was in Morocco, and it depicts a road of houses of incredible, contrasting blue hues and a small, black cat in the street. The photo reminded her of the famous Steinlen "Le Chat Noir" poster. It was "a common image in a not so common setting," she says. It enabled her to discover that, "You can always find something familiar – even in the most exotic and unknown parts of the world."
Other students found that The World Through Our Eyes allowed them to share some of their vivid memories and invaluable experiences from traveling abroad with the rest of the BC community. For instance, Brittany Bieber's, A&S '12, photograph, "Blues," taken in Aegina, an island off the coast of Athens, "captures one of [her] most cherished days while abroad." Beiber was not alone in her sentiments - many other students expressed the same feelings. Just as these student photographers were inspired by their time abroad, Estwing says, "I hope viewers will be inspired by the beauty of the photographs to travel abroad and experience everything the world has to offer."
The world is rich, full of beauty and opportunity, and in honor of International Education Week, BC's student photo exhibit, The World Through Our Eyes, gave students the chance to share and vicariously experience the world's many wonders together.