Senior students tell stories through photography

Senior photography majors Maxwell Sierra and Melody Blazauskas install one of the printed works from the senior thesis exhibition “Unbound” April 16 in the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography in Miller Hall. The exhibition features works from 10 senior photography students as a part of their final major project. The exhibit runs through May 30. / photo by Ethan Bermudez
Senior photography majors Maxwell Sierra and Melody Blazauskas install one of the printed works from the senior thesis exhibition “Unbound” April 16 in the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography in Miller Hall. The exhibition features works from 10 senior photography students as a part of their final major project. The exhibit runs through May 30. / photo by Ethan Bermudez

Olivia Modarelli
Staff Writer

Selected works of 10 senior photography majors line the halls of the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography one last time, signifying the end of their time at the University of La Verne. The display is called “Unbound: Senior Thesis Exhibition.”

The exhibition displays photography by Maxwell Sierra, Melody Blazauskas, Marwan Hassan, Shira O’Neal, William Hardy, Darcelle Jones-Wesley, Brady Keegan, Rachel Kendrick, Emily Alvarez and Christine Diaz.

The exhibition opened on April 7.

Upon entry, visitors can pick up a sheet of paper that gives them the photographer and title of each piece. The displayed pieces are all selected favorites from the students’ greater senior thesis photography books. 

The photographers captured picturesque landscapes, powerful relationships, abstract images and more throughout the exhibition. 

Blazauskas used alternative processing methods throughout her work. 

Blazauskas included two lumen prints, a transparent print and two film photographs. The pieces were filled with bright, sunset colors and contrasting bits of dark gray and black. 

She titled three of those works “Marmalade Skies,” “Sun In Your Eyes,” and “Tangerine Trees,” which are names she gained inspiration from the Beatles’ song “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

“My thesis work is basically about appreciating the muses and beauty in the mundane in life,” Blazauskas said. 

She found inspiration right in her own backyard. Blazauskas said she captured the photos on a walk she likes to take near her house.

“It’s about me going on this walk and just finding little parts of appreciation for nature and using alternative processing to do that,” Blazauskas said. 

Hassan’s work was inspired by the traveling he did over the course of the pandemic. He took pictures in Egypt, Hawaii and Utah and chose to display his photos of Utah. Hassan used drones to get the perfect shots, he said. 

He incorporated a message on global warming into his work as well, as he left imperfections like trash in his photos to contrast it with the beautiful surroundings. 

Hassan, who calls himself a perfectionist, said that working on this project helped him look at the world through a different lens.

“For me to leave those little imperfections in the picture to get my point across…was very hard,” Hassan said.

It was not just the different photography styles that made these projects unique. There were significant stories behind the work. 

Alvarez’s book, “Together We Stand, Silenced No More,” centers around sexual assault survivors. 

“It’s not OK to sexually assault someone or be sexually assaulted but it is OK to reach out for help when that does happen to you and to talk to others,” Alvarez said. “And I just wanted people to know that they weren’t alone.”

She chose three pieces to display in the exhibition. They picture black and white images of herself and two others in the photography department. Each image is the same size and displays the same vertical orientation, creating a cohesive story and vision. She describes the photos on each side as bookends to the story told in the middle.

Diaz’s work portrays another powerful message. Her work is meant to combat the stereotypes many have of East Los Angeles. 

“I think photography has always been my outlet to get any type of message across and I think, personally, I’m kind of drawn to political work,” Diaz said. 

She said her work pictures a protest for someone who was killed by police during a mental health crisis. 

Diaz said that through working on her senior thesis, she has become more educated and aware of the issues happening in the world. 

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding and hatred in this world,” Diaz said. “And I think this project has really opened my eyes to the reality of it.”

The exhibit, located in Miller Hall, will be open through May 30.

The photography department will be hosting a gallery reception and artist walkthrough May 12 at 5 p.m. in the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography.

Olivia Modarelli can be reached at olivia.modarelli@laverne.edu.

Other Stories

Olivia Modarelli, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

Website | Other Stories

Ethan Bermudez, a sophomore photography and political science major, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times. His work can also be found at bermudezproductions.com.

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