Individual Perspective: Communication arts seniors display portfolio work in Mazgal

(Photo by Amanda Martin.)

This week, the Mazmanian Gallery was home to the work of 10 senior communication art majors with concentrations in integrated visual media.

As part of their senior portfolio class, all the students were tasked not only with showcasing résumés, brand logos and portfolio websites, but also some of the best work they’ve created throughout their time at FSU.

On display were a wide variety of pictures, graphic designs and student-created films.

Although a communication arts senior exhibition is presented annually, the unifying theme tying all the students’ work together is always different.

This year, the class decided to title its show “Through Our Eyes,” focusing on the idea of individual perspective.

“Thinking about the lens by which we look at life and our work is unique and individual,” said Jennifer Dowling, communication arts professor and the instructor of the portfolio class.

When thinking about his own individual style, Chris Barajas tries to mix aggressive vibrant colors with his overall vintage aesthetic.

Showcasing his night photography, Barajas said he enjoys playing with artificial light sources in his photographs, as they often cast a striking and vibrant hue over the building or subject in an image.

Taking up a small portion of his exhibit were several late-night photographs Barajas took around Framingham and the Boston area. Most of these photos are part of Barajas’ ongoing “Night Shift” series that focuses on highlighting people who primarily work after dark.

In one photograph, taken inside a skating club in Cambridge, a radiant, red light envelopes a scene of a man on a ladder, dusting a large window from within an aging building built in the 1800s. In another, taken outside the Red Roof Inn in Framingham, a bright red sign illuminates a white wall just above the hotel’s entrance, dyeing it an almost-blood-orange.   

“I really like the motif of using the color red, so any time I see red, I try and capture it,” he said. “As far as the night photography goes, I’m sort of a night owl. I really like being out at night. I like capturing things that are otherwise mundane and capturing it in a unique way.”

Also on display was Barajas’ “sensory deprivation” interactive video piece “Sense of Place.” Inside a large, wooden box adjacent to Barajas’ other work was an iPad running a series of looping videos showing a range of experiences, including traversing New England’s snow-covered streets during a snowstorm, going on a hike in Callahan State Park and visiting Nantasket Beach on a nice summer day.

Once they had the included headphones on, viewers were instructed to place their eyes above the vertical hole atop the wooden box where the iPad was placed. Barajas said he hopes viewers would then feel as though they’ve been transported and were actively experiencing one of the aforementioned vignettes.

Barajas said he was inspired by the kinetoscope, an early motion picture device that was developed in 1861. Like his video piece, films shown on the kinetoscope had to be viewed through a peephole.

For their senior portfolios, Audrey Ensor and Marina Coppola decided to collaborate and develop something together.

The results of their efforts?

“The Grim’s Reaper,” a short film featuring the grim reaper and an unlucky FSU student who is given an ultimatum – kill three unsuspecting individuals who have committed a series of heinous acts or die.   

Flanked between their individual exhibits, an iMac with a trailer of the film was placed atop a white pillar that was painted blood red to match the film’s gruesome theme.

Both said working on the film was a great experience, as each of them said they’d like to pursue a potential career in filmmaking.

“We got to do the entire thing ourselves – every element – script writing, pre-production, [and] post-production,” said Ensor.

Outside of film production, each also created their own poster for the film, highlighting their design skills and individual styles.

When deciding what to place in her exhibit, Ensor decided to display work that highlighted both her photographic and design skills.

Hanging on the wall were five black and white photographs Ensor had taken in a number of photography classes here at FSU – some were long exposure portraits and others close-up shots of a variety of objects including a polka dot curtain and a rainy window.  Placed within each image were individual words from Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.”

Viewed together, the series of photos read, “All my pictures seem to fade to black & white.”

Showcasing photos emphasizing the importance of positive body image, Coppola’s individual exhibit featured some of her proudest work, she explained.

In one photograph, a woman in her underwear is shown with the words “My Body My Choice” written in black marker just above her chest and along her stomach. Coppola said this photo served as the catalyst that inspired her to continue highlighting body positivity through photography.

Students’ work will be on display until April 6.

Next week, senior design and illustration students will showcase their senior seminar work. The reception will be held April 10 at 4:30 p.m.

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