Photo program grows with Green
Over January, a handful of students were trekking around campus carrying tripods and small wooden boxes. These students were the photographers from the JanPlan course Photography: A Historical Introduction, taught by Assistant Professor of Art Gary Green.
Green's JanPlan course introduces students to antiquarian photographic processes such as cyanotypes (or "Sun Prints"), pinholes (those wooden boxes) and palladium prints. These processes are not widely known to participants of the digital age. Some of the work from the class is currently exhibited in a display case in the lobby of the Colby Museum of Art.
Green came to the Hill in 2007 and is currently the sole photography professor at the College. A Historical Introduction, he said, gives students who wouldn't normally take photography a chance to become familiar with the facilities and the materials. The class also has the possibility to help its students discover a new interest.
The photography program at the College is expanding its curriculum thanks to Green's dedication to the program and the administration's support and recognition of his hard work and his courses' popularity. Prior to Green's arrival, the College offered a Photo I course and occasionally Photo II. "We've been trying to build [the program] since I got here, that was part of the idea," Green said. The new curriculum will add the courses Introduction to Digital Imaging and Photo III: Advanced Photography, as well as alter the focus of the current Photo II course.
Green said the new course, Introduction to Digital Imaging, is "not going to be technically a photo course; it's going to be a digital imaging course without cameras, so it's going to cover just two-dimensional design techniques." Photo I will be a darkroom class, Photo II will be an introduction to digital and color photography and Photo III will be "a synthesis of the two," he said.
"These courses, plus one further independent study will now potentially lead to a major or minor with a concentration in photography," Green wrote in an e-mail to photography students. An art major with a concentration in photography will take Introduction to Digital Imaging as a prerequisite to the photography sequence. Foundations in Studio Art will still be required to complete the art major with a studio art concentration, though not as a prerequisite to the photo sequence. The current course History of Photography is taught by Laura Saltz, associate professor of art and American studies, every other spring. It will now be required as one of the art history courses needed for the art major with a studio art concentration in photography.
Advanced Photography offers the opportunity to choose the focus of one's own work, whether it be film, digital or historical. "There is an opportunity in Advanced Photography...to pursue whatever [a student has] gotten in any of the other classes, including A Historical Introduction," Green said. The combination of certain processes, old and new, makes for lot of nuanced possibilities. "If somebody wants to...[scan a film negative] and make a big digital print, or digital negatives and make palladium prints...they can do that."
The expansion of the curriculum coincides with plans to expand the Museum. The proposed expansion is set to open by the summer of 2013, the College's bicentennial. "When [the College] announced the gift of the Lunder Collection [in May 2007], Colby committed to building an addition to the art museum to put many of its new treasures on permanent display," according to the Colby Magazine in its spring 2008 issue. As part of this expansion, the current photography studio in the basement of Bixler will be taken down and reconstructed as well.
As a member of the building committee, Green has some input in the design of the studio, working with Project Manager Kelly Doran, assistant director of capital planning and construction. "I'm not the designer, but I'm the person who says what I need," Green said. During the proposed construction of the Museum, alternate darkroom facilities will be necessary. The Photography Club lab in Roberts Union is a possibility, Green said, but not definite. The introduction of digital photography to the curriculum necessitates a digital lab, which he hopes will be temporarily accommodated by the Bixler Computer Lab.
"Construction should begin in summer 2011," Doran said. Green is excited about the expansion. "The administration was very supportive in doing this...so I want to get it going," he said. "I want people to know that we're growing."
For those interested in photography, Green brings a professional photographer to speak with students and members of the Colby community at large once a year. This year's guest is photographer Mark Steinmetz and he will be speaking on Wednesday, March 10 at 5:30 p.m. in Bixler 154. The talk is free and open to the public.