Photography brings dreams to reality

Emily Alvarez, senior photography major, discusses her landscape photography on display in the “Phantasmagoria” exhibit with Jenna de Leon, senior legal studies major, on Feb. 17 at the opening reception in Miller Hall. “Phantasmagoria” is a group undergraduate student exhibition on display in the Miller Hall Ground Floor Gallery and will run through March 28. / photo by Darcelle Jones-Wesley
Emily Alvarez, senior photography major, discusses her black-and-white landscape photography with Jenna de Leon, senior legal studies major, at the reception of student-curated exhibition “Phantasmagoria” on Feb. 17. The photography exhibit is on display in the Miller Hall Ground Floor Gallery and will run through March 28. / photo by Darcelle Jones-Wesley

Hien Nguyen
Arts Editor

The opening reception for “Phantasmagoria,” an undergraduate student exhibition curated by senior computer science and photography major Marwan Hassan, was held in the Gound Floor Gallery of Miller Hall on Feb. 17. 

The exhibition features works of seniors from the photography department including Emily Alvarez, Melody Blazauskas, Christine Diaz, William Hardy, Maxwell Sierra and Hassan.

Similar to the unique exhibition name, the featured photography works were just as out of the ordinary and captured dreamlike moments on our earth – from the blue seas of Hawaii, brick buildings in London to the forest of California.

“If you look at the meaning of phantasmagoria, it’s dreams but in reality and that’s what we’re trying to portray through these photos,” said Hassan. “I had 80 photos to choose from which was hard but fun because it got me involved and I looked at the pictures more than usual.”

Photography department manager and gallery coordinator Lyndsay Bloom helped Hassan throughout the process by teaching him how to curate, install and promote the show.

“He is a fantastic student, so passionate and is a great artist,” said Bloom. “All the students did amazing work and it’s a wonderful time working with Marwan on putting the show together.” 

The event saw a great turn out with around 40 attendees including fellow students, family and faculty members present to celebrate the occasion as this was the first physical exhibition for many seniors in the group.

Christine Diaz, senior photography major, said this is the first time she has been a part of a student exhibition.

“The pandemic started when I was in sophomore year so I didn’t have all that much experience on campus with the photography department,” said Diaz. “Coming back and being able to have this exhibit was the most amazing thing that happened.”

Diaz displayed three of her photographs including pieces titled “England,” “Enigmatic” and “Nostalgia” which have been shot in London, her high school campus and the Los Angeles County Fair, respectively.

“When I take photos, I try to look for things that seem ethereal and also what’s a little out there that are thought provoking,” Diaz said. “For example, this picture I took at the fair evokes a sense of nostalgia through the funnel cake sign in the background.”

Senior photography major Melody Blazauskas also gave the attendees something to think about with her two pink-toned and otherworldly pieces titled “Salton Sea ​​I” and “Salton Sea II” on the human imprint on the environment.

“Salton Sea is a man-made land of water that’s highly saturated with salt therefore it kills a lot of animals and the trailer with the person camping shows how humans interact with nature,” said Blazauskas. “It’s demonstrating how we as humans are placing ourselves in nature and also affecting nature.”

Senior photography major Emily Alvarez shared that her displayed pieces were shot with a 4×5 large format camera instead of a normal digital camera.

“I did it for a landscape photography class and it was a very interesting process because in order to see the photos, you have to have a cloth over you in a dark space,” said Alvarez.

Her black and white photographs feature a water trail that she stumbled upon while walking the San Dimas Hills and a tree framing over a car parked at the San Bernardino National Forest. 

Among still photography works is senior Maxwell Sierra’s stop motion video titled “Making a Quarter” played on the TV in the middle of the exhibition space.

Sierra experimented with moving images and moving past just still frames by combining still images together to be played in video format.

“It’s fascinating to create that type of work by piecing the images together and going through the timeline to see how everything flows is such a satisfying feeling,” said Sierra.

The exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday to Friday and runs through March 28. 

Hien Nguyen can be reached at

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