When photography majors Lindsay Thompson and Rosie Wiegand saw 2013 Temple alumna Liz Fever’s photography project last spring, a collaborative exhibit between Tyler and University of the Arts students, they were both inspired to carry on the tradition.
Now for its second year, the graduating seniors have brought photography students from all over Philadelphia together for an exhibition titled “Call + Response,” open until March 31 in the lower atrium at Tyler School of Art. The project began when Thompson and Wiegand used Facebook last summer to encourage students from both schools to post some of their best work to a page the two created.
From there, each student chose a picture to “respond” to with a photograph of their own, which is how the title of the exhibit came to be.
“The idea is to create a dialogue, just with images,” Thompson said. “You choose a photo that interests you and you use it for inspiration, building another piece off of that so that [the images] kind of talk to each other when hung next to one another.”
While the purpose of the exhibit is for the pairs of images to interact, the students were not bound by a set theme or strict guidelines, which Thompson said was intended to allow for variety among the pieces. The images range from portraits to landscapes, each with their own style and technique. The result, Thompson said, is a seamless display of artwork that is representative of the diversity of artists involved.
Thompson and Weigand said bringing the exhibit to fruition was not an easy task due to the coordination necessary to open it. They had never participated in a full-scale exhibition at Tyler before, let alone held the responsibility of putting one together, but they said the challenge was well worth it.
“It was really hard communicating with another school via Facebook because there is a connection you get when you’re talking to someone one-on-one,” Thompson said.
When it initially seemed that some of the students were struggling to grasp the concept of the unusual exhibit, the students decided to meet with Takashi Aoyama, one of the participating UArts photographers. Both Thompson and Wiegand said Aoyama was able to help unite the schools and clarify the message Thompson and Wiegand wanted to send.
Aoyama, who specializes in photojournalism, said he was thrilled to have an opportunity to experience the style of other artists.
“I won’t oftentimes photograph crazy pictures like a fine arts photographer does,” Aoyama, the UArts senior, said. “However, we can learn many things from each other. Through this project I have learned many unique styles of composition from the different photographers.”
Aoyama was also vital in orchestrating a relationship among the students, Thompson said. A key part of the project is maintaining a conversation. However, not all aspects were discussed before the presentation – the reception, held on March 10 at Tyler, was the first time many of the photographers got to see their photos’ response, something Wiegand said added to the excitement.
“For the first photos everyone knew who was responding to whom because they commented on the pictures and they could kind of claim the one that they wanted,” Wiegand said. “But the actual response images were a surprise.”
Wiegand said at Tyler, students sometimes feel isolated from the rest of the university. Projects like this are something she hopes will unite different students with a common bond, along with acting as a beneficial networking tool preparing artists to work together in the future.
“It may not look like much, but it involved a lot of time and effort to get everything just right,” Wiegand said. “It was a whole process that took months to complete, so I think it was really good practice.”
Thompson said the responsibility of the project helped her gain self-motivation.
“The fact that our own ambition is the thing that got us through it – no one was really telling us to do this,” Thompson said. “It was something we wanted to accomplish on our own, and obviously we had a lot of help, but there really wasn’t any reward for it other than how is it going to turn out.”
Alexa Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.