Camera and Community: Photographs from the Collection of the Institute for Arts and Media,” opened on March 14 at the CSUN art gallery showcasing the work of 20 local photographers.
The featured photographs captured several pivotal moments throughout history including wars, the ruin of the World Trade Center, labor strikes, the civil rights movement as well as famous entertainers and political figures at the peak of their careers.
A memorable photo came from photographer Richard Cross and focused on a small crowd watching the campaign speech of Jose Durate in 1983. This black and white photo was moving because the United States is in the midst of its own monumental presidential election. The expressions on the faces of the crowd displayed both attentiveness and hope, which is something that many Americans are feeling right now as we await our nominees.
A black and white vintage print, taken by photographer Bob Moore, features a man of many hats, Gordon Parks, who was a world renowned photojournalist, film director, author, and composer. In the shot Parks appears to be deep in thought at a piano with sheet music spread about. The image of Parks is one many students can relate to because it is reminiscent of a student studying in the library before a big test.
Another photo that was especially moving was of a person from David Blumenkrantz’s Sudan collection in which a physically deformed person, with missing fingers and toes, is shown in the middle of a laugh. The background gives a subtle hint of the impoverished living conditions but in spite of that, this person is still able to laugh and smile, which sends the message that although things may seem bad, there is always a reason to be happy.
The exhibit which will remain open through April 12 features the work of Harry Adams, Herb Carleton, Roland Charles, Emmon Clarke, Guy Crowder, Jack Davis, Bob Douglas, Maxie Floyd, Bill Harvey, John Kouns, Enrique Romero Olivas, Ringo Chiu, Augustine Tabares, Jason Warner, and Charles Williams.
The collection’s opening reception drew a large and engaged crowd that included CSUN students, faculty, and members from the local community as well as some of the featured artists.
Religious studies professor Crerar Douglas and his wife Roxanna Cordova, who were invited to the opening by a former student, were impressed with the selections chosen.
“The pictures are mind boggling. I have never seen things like them. They are so candid,” said Douglas. “I’m stunned at how it takes my breath away.”
An example of this is a print by James Jeffrey of the 1965 Watts Riot in which two men are shown walking down the street as two little girls follow close behind. What makes this black and white photo standout is that the picture is actually of a broken television that was sitting on the sidewalk and the people just so happened to be captured as they passed by it which gave the effect that they were on TV.
“It’s perfect to see it through the screen like that. It’s reality meets TV,” said Douglas of the picture.
One of the lighter moments of highlighted photos include many legendary singers such as Diana Ross, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., and a very young Michael Jackson.
“I’m back in time listening to ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’ cause Diana just put me there and Michael Jackson is teaching me my ABC’s. These photos are taking me back to ‘Porgy and Bess’ when I started listening to more adult things,” said Cordova.
Admission to the “Camera and Community,” exhibit is free of charge and open to the public. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., with the exception of Thursdays when the hours are extended and will be open from noon to 8 p.m.
Although some of us are not old enough to have actually lived through some of these experiences first hand, we all have some knowledge of these historical moments.
These snap shots through history help place you there, and allow you to vicariously feel the emotions as if you were there in the flesh.