Show a snapshot of SIAST course

The new Godfrey Dean Gallery show highlights works from photography course.

"The exhibition was an idea that had been in the works for some time as a 25th anniversary celebration of the achievements of the Applied Photography program, and in particular, its graduates," explained Gary Robins. "It was put together by a working group of six alumni, Carolyn Pihach, Darlene Barss, Trevor Hopkin, Colin Norheim, Cortney Bodnar Roth and Wendy Richards, who met every Sunday through last winter to co-ordinate the exhibition and the commemorative book."

Robins explained a 96-page hardcover commemorates the program started in 1986. The book includes an introductory essay by Robins, with photographs and contributions by more than 70 program alumni.

"Alumni were invited to submit up to four images," said Robins. "We had 205 works submitted, and three jurors (David Brown, Barbara Reimer and Ian Stanley) who were all professional photographers who had ties to the program. Two were in Saskatoon and Ian was in Cambodia. We asked them to select 25 images (or 25 years). It took four rounds of jurying to narrow it down to 28 images by 25 photographers.

"Submission guidelines were wide open, so was the range of work that made up the final selection."

Robins said the works speak to the success of the SIAST program.

"Those of us who appreciate fine photographic images can really enjoy the richness and scope of the work produced by our students over the past 25 years. This is the artistic legacy of the Applied Photography program, and all those who have been a part of it. We have been fortunate over the years to have attracted some amazing talent into the program - committed, creative, confused or crazy - sometimes all of the above, compelled by the need to tell a visual story. It has overall been a rich experience, certainly evident in the images that have been produced here, and continue to be made in our graduates' own environments," he wrote in the book.

"All of the participants are graduates of the Applied Photography program at SIAST, spanning the full 25 year operation of the program," he told Yorkton This Week. "Applied Photography celebrated 25 years of operation on June 6, 2011 with the exhibition opening and book launch at the gallery at SIAST's Wascana Campus. About 125 people came out for the event, including 45 graduates of the program. Lynda Haverstock (who wrote the foreword to the book) and Pat Atkinson (former minister of Advanced Education) were the guest speakers. It was a big success."

Charles Melnick, from the MacNutt area, is one of the photographers involved in the show.

"I took the Applied Photography course to improve upon my photographic skills and pick up a whole range of new photo-related skills from custom color and black and white printing to photographic studio and location work with film camera's at that time from 35mm to medium format to 4x5 view cameras," he said.

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Former program student, and Yorkton resident, Carolyn Pihach said the course and show drew her from an artistic perspective.

"I have always been interested in art," she said. "I already had a degree in Fine Arts (painting) when I decided to enter the program at SIAST. I found I became less interested in creating images with paint and more interested creating images with photography.

"I was part of the first class that was accepted into the revamped program in 2004. It was a two year course so it covered a lot of material. Some of what we learned was black and white, and colour printing, working with different formats of cameras, advertising, portrait, stock, photojournalism photography and much, much more."

Melnick said the core focus of the course was to provide a broad foundation regarding many areas of photography.

"The focus of the course was to prepare the student for a career in the photographic industry," said.

Melnick had one image in the show.

"The challenge in capturing the image was getting a tightly framed image in a decisive moment -- which was a term that was used by a famous French, Life Magazine era photographer by the name of Henri Cartier- Bresson -- that refers to a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture." he said.

"Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition -- or perhaps luck -- when to click the camera.

"That is the moment the photographer is creative."

In terms of the show Pihach said picking favourites was difficult.

"There are so many great images in the show. My favourites have to be the images by Trevor Hopkin. They have this incredible mood and atmosphere to them," she said.

Melnick had some he felt stood out for him.

"Some of my favorite pieces in the show would be Kristin MacPherson's portrait of a farmer's weathered face and Janet Weber Young's picture of a farmer on a red McCormick Farmall tractor," he said, adding they are "images that portray a classic country look in my point of view."

In the book introduction Robins spoke about what the best photographers do with their craft.

"Successful photography emerges when we are passionate about our art and our craft, when we engage our subjects and ensure that we too are engaged in the process. Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't. We all know when we've had a productive day, when concepts have been actively shared and knowledge has been acquired. Effective learning has always been a two-way street, a subtle collaboration. Instructors learn from students every day, and that's what makes the job rewarding," he wrote.

Having a piece within the show was special for both Melnick and Pihach.

"It was an honor to have my photographic work included in this show," said Melnick. "This was my first work that was featured in any art gallery although this same exhibit was featured at SIAST's Applied Photography Gallery and also appeared at the University of Regina's Faculty Club last year."

"It is very exciting to have your work chosen out of so many great images and then to have it shown in a public place is even more amazing," said Pihach. "It was very exciting. As an artist you want your work to be seen by the public."

Being at the gallery in Yorkton made the experience more interesting as well.

"Every chance I get when I come back to Yorkton I will stop by the Gallery," said Pihach. "The quality of work they display is wonderful and to be included among the artists that have shown it that space is an honour."

Melnick agreed the GDG gave the experience a different feeling.

"I would say that it is was interesting to me, being somewhat of a local, to have this image shown at the Godfrey Dean Gallery as part of the Applied Photography Programs retrospective exhibit," he said. "One might say thanks for the memories visually and otherwise."

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