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          Take a picture, It'll Last Longer: CIA student photo exhibition

          Rachel Hunt

          Issue date: 4/16/10 Section: Focus
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          Sarah Groh's photograph,
          Sarah Groh's photograph, "NYC Cougar," is one of the numerous works on display in It'll Last Longer.
          [Click to enlarge]
          CIA students helped refurbish an abandoned building in the Playhouse district for this year's student photo exhibition for it to appear as it does above.
          CIA students helped refurbish an abandoned building in the Playhouse district for this year's student photo exhibition for it to appear as it does above.
          [Click to enlarge]
          At the end of the semester, Case Western Reserve University students cannot get a break. Between finals, last-minute SAGES papers, and the never-ending amount of presentations, the sprint to the end of the year seems to go slowly. However, imagine if end-of-the-year rituals no longer evoked fear in the heart of students, but celebration. Imagine that instead of writing final drafts, the school year's end required hanging final drafts in a gallery downtown? It sounds too good to be true. How about switching majors?

          The photography majors at CIA banded together this spring to make their annual exhibition better than ever with a great new location and a large variety of student work. The opening night fell on Friday, March 26 and recently ended early this April. Every department at CIA has a spring showcase, but the photography exhibition was a welcome deviation from the well-worn path of other student and BFA shows. Entitled It'll Last Longer, the artists and their work showed a spunk and enthusiasm that many projects these days tend to lack. The exhibition was set up in a striped storefront right on Euclid in the heart of the Playhouse district; a better location does not exist.

          "Our TA Mike Wallace found the space when we decided that we wanted to do something off campus," said Sarah Groh, a CIA second year photography major featured in It'll Last Longer. With nine pieces in the exhibition, Groh has been working hard this year, and the effort is finally paying off as her prints go up for sale and her works gain exposure in the public eye. Her black-and-white archival pigment prints of the characters on the streets of NYC were a part of the standout pieces presented.

          Opening night ran smoothly, with a handful of guests at any given time between 6 p.m. and closing. A DJ was on hand, as well as light refreshments. The work as well as the space was, for the most part, impressive, however, behind the collected exterior, it was hard to guess that these college students had any obstacles setting up their work.

          "The place was literally a construction site when we arrived, so it was a big mess. With photography, or any type of art, the last thing you want is dirt and dust all over your prints and frames," said Groh. "The hardest part was getting everything clean and keeping it that way. Set-up was a major team effort with fourth and fifth year students taking the reins, but we all worked together to get everyone's work on the walls."

          Even though the group pulled together to make the show happen, their photographs stood alone as very independent works. There were few uniting themes throughout the show, turning it into more of a showcase for each student's individual talents. "When it was all hung up, everything made sense in a way," said Groh.

          Black and white, large format color, panoramic landscapes, BMX action shots, experimental projects such as photography on a quilt, Fujifilm dye transfers illustrated with pen, and Photoshopped kaleidoscope-like images were represented.

          "Installation wise, Rosie Hileman's piece was my favorite. You walked into a dark old bathroom with a flashlight as if breaking into an abandoned building, and there were inspirational quotes written on the wall in chalk. Then you were given chalk to add to the walls," explained Groh. Hileman also had work in the exclusive annual CIA student exhibition spanning across disciplines.

          Overall, the exhibition was a success. There may have been minor problems with dust and lighting later on during opening night, but the installation was fascinating and provided new interpretations on classical photo. Photos may last longer than memory, but this student exhibition made a bold attempt to imprint itself on the minds of attendees.
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