New show comes to the student art gallery


Exhibition hallway in Founders Hall. Marc Studer photos

By N. L. Sweeney
As you walk down the hallways of the University of Washington Bothell, posters and flyers call out from the walls. Passing the hall by the Student Success Center in Founders Hall, however, reveals a more purposeful space. Behind smooth, suspended frames are photos: a reflected woman viewed through a veil of blooming roses, an abandoned shed, a solitary figure seated before a wall of blank screens. 

These are just a few of the 14 photos that make up this quarter’s Student Art Gallery. These works represent a curated selection from this past summer’s Photography & Digital Art class taught by Ted Hiebert, associate professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS), and the Introduction to Photography class taught by Howard Hsu, IAS lecturer.  

The Office of Undergraduate Research asked Hiebert to direct the shows beginning in autumn 2018. “Having a space dedicated to honoring student art is essential for creating art culture at UW Bothell,” said Hiebert. “This hallway represents an important step toward prioritizing that development.” 

The photographer in the photo 

Jennifer Pean used a prism to split the image.

Though the photography featured in the student gallery represents the works of two different classes, a common theme runs through the pictures. Many of the photos from Hiebert’s class feature distortions of perspective, using lighting and prisms. 

“The documentary myth of the camera relies on a record not being tampered with. That reality leaves little room for artists in their art,” said Hiebert. “We were most interested in seeing how we could make space for the photographer in the photo, and we approached this by shifting perspective.”  

Jennifer Pean took the photo of the woman hidden behind a cascade of leaves and roses. “In Hiebert’s class, we were asked to play with different perspectives and ways to ‘trick’ the camera into capturing something we imagined,” said Pean (Biology ’19). “I got to discover my own style and voice as a photographer.” 

In a different approach, Hsu encourages students to bring themselves as photographers into their work through narrative and subject. 

“In choosing from my students’ works, I tried to select images that visually conveyed a student’s own perspective, world view or issue in their life,” said Hsu. “In other words, each image represents some aspect of how they uniquely see the world.” 

Preparing artists 

Heather McAllister used a laser pointer.

Although the students have a wide spectrum of experience with and education in photography, the gallery gave everyone recognition. 

Pean has been a photographer for most of her life, but Hiebert’s class was the first photography course she had taken at UW Bothell. “Having my art displayed and getting that approval made me think for the first time that photography might be something I could pursue after university.” 

For many of the students, more important than the recognition was the internalization that followed. 

“When Professor Hiebert asked to use my photo in the gallery, I was really excited,” said Heather McAllister, an Interdisciplinary Arts major. “I’ve been lucky enough to be featured in a gallery before, but having my photography up at a university felt official and has really boosted my confidence.” 

Theo Roussos described a similar experience, though with a focus on logistics. “The gallery helps us familiarize ourselves with the experience of showcasing our works in a public space,” said Roussos, a student from Hiebert’s course. “That way when we exhibit our art in a new venue, we can more effortlessly handle the interactions between the public and our art.” 

Making space for art 

Theo Roussos’ take on the self portrait.

None of these things would have been possible without the institutional support Hiebert received. 

“I may be the one organizing this exhibit,” he said, “but the funding and drive of the Office of Undergraduate Research and the networks and organization of the IAS are the reason this is happening. With their help and that of students and faculty alike, I look forward to creating more room for student art on our campus.” 

This represents the fourth show under Hiebert’s direction. Last year, he curated work in the fall, had faculty select work in the winter and advised editors of Clamor — UW Bothell’s visual, literary and multimedia journal — on choosing artwork from the journal in the spring. Hiebert intends to use this schedule for the space moving forward. 

“As the organizer,” he said, “I’m most interested in using the Student Art Gallery to create community and connections.” 

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