March 27, 2008

‘Open with Caution’ stretches photo students’ imaginations

Photo: Surprise! The envelope holds the secret to photo assignments for Rochelle Dann (left), Brittany Dewester, Katherine Kenner, and Elizabeth Geisser. Surprise! The envelope holds the secret to photo assignments for Rochelle Dann (left), Brittany Dewester, Katherine Kenner, and Elizabeth Geisser.

Be careful when you open that envelope; you never know what’s inside.

In fact, that’s the intent behind “Open with Caution,” a photography project and exhibition organized by students in professor Nigel Poor’s Photo 150, Senior Portfolio class.

Each student receives a sealed envelope for the final project. Inside is an object, direction or directive from a student who took the course the previous semester. The current student must then use the envelope’s contents to create a photo project. Those projects will then be displayed at an exhibition April 12 through June 6 at the Camera Arts gallery, 712 57th Street.

Katherine Kenner’s envelope contained a hairnet, along with a note saying the writer was a waitress from 1956. Since Kenner actually works as a waitress, she can combine her job with the assignment. “I’m going to go into my restaurant and take some pictures of me in the hairnet and a 1950s get-up,” Kenner says.

Brittany Dewester will use the map, expired Sac State parking permit and Sharpie she received to pick out a place at random and go there for her photo shoot.

Elizabeth Geisser was given an assignment inspired by a demon in the Harry Potter novels. “I have to take a picture of my worst fear and somehow make it funny,” Geisser says, adding that blindness is her own worst fear. “Yeah, it’s going to be an interesting project.”

Rochelle Dann was told to portray herself as one of the seven deadly sins. At the moment she’s thinking of taking self-portraits as each one, then either choose a sin, or combine all of them into one image. “I’m going to play around with it a little bit,” she says.

“The project serves many purposes,” Poor says, noting that it not only tests the students’ creative skills, but also gives them experience in other areas. The exhibition is organized by the students, she says, with individuals or groups responsible for all facets—hanging the photos, publicity, coordinating the reception. And having the show off campus exposes the works to a wider audience and allows the students to interact with the larger community, she says.

The Camera Arts gallery is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. A reception will be held at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 12.

Of course, having been challenged by the previous class, the photographers are looking forward to preparing their own envelopes. “I already know what I’m going to have the other person do next semester,” Kenner says. “It’s going to be really bad.”

For more information on the University’s photography program, call the Poor at (916) 278-6275 or visit www.csus.edu/design/. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.