Students exhibiting their vision


May 19, 2004|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

STUDENTS FROM Wilde Lake High School's first photography class received a challenging assignment: to photograph their neighborhood as they see it, in black and white.

The results are being shown at Slayton House in the exhibit, "Visions from Wilde Eyes."

The images range from a customer choosing a soda from an array of bottles on the grocery shelf to the reflection of a coffeehouse sign in a nearby window. Many of the pictures were taken at unusual angles. Students say they got down on the floor to get the right angle or stood underneath an object to see it in an unusual way.

"This is a great opportunity to show the community what we are doing," said art teacher Matthew Pickett, who taught the class. "The village board donated some money to the school's photography club - and asked for an exhibit based on the neighborhood. We used the money to buy photography supplies. I said, `Why don't we start a photography class?' "

His students are glad he did.

"I've always been into art," said junior Alison Solonche, whose photograph of a sign that prohibits fishing on one side of Wilde Lake shows part of the sign and part of the fence.

"Photography was a new class that just opened up, so I thought it would be fun to take," Solonche said. "Once we got started, I became really interested in the process. I used to use a disposable camera and take it to the store to be developed, and I never knew what they did with it. Now I know how hard it is to get the perfect print; I've spent hours in the darkroom trying to get just the right balance of chemicals and time to get the perfect lightness and darkness in a print."

Solonche is interested in the craft of photography. "When we are taking pictures, we do everything manually," she said. "We have to find the right aperture and shutter speed. Even when I take a whole roll a film, I only like a few."

Pickett's students became aware of composition: the interrelatedness of everything within the frame.

"I like looking at things from different angles," said senior Shelley Burleyson, whose photograph shows the sign for the Riverside Roastery & Espresso reflected in a window. "I was standing underneath the sign. I took it on a rainy day. The contrast of the lights against the gray sky is really nice.

"Usually when it's raining, that is what I do - go hang out in the coffeehouse with my friends," she said. "I like the photo because it reminds me of what I like about Columbia: It's familiar, comfortable and warm."

"[Mr. Pickett] told us to take pictures that have lines," said senior Allison Rein, whose photograph shows a banister outside her home. "The paint is peeling away so it had a lot of texture."

Parents were pleased.

"I was very impressed with what I saw," said Al Solonche, Alison's father. "You could tell a lot of these kids showed talent. They really have an eye for angle and shading. It's nice to see their photos displayed near exhibits featuring adults."

The class offered an opportunity for expression - and the students took advantage.

"I've always liked art," said Burleyson, who used her grandfather's camera for the class. "I can't draw, paint or dance. This is something I can do well."

For some, photography is an interest that may continue.

"For Ally, photography has become a hobby she really enjoys," Al Solonche said. "She goes out with her camera a lot, even when she doesn't have an assignment. She's great at drawing and painting. It's nice that she's found another way to express her art."

"The class really adds a lot to the art program," Alison Solonche said. "I really love it. My mom used to take pictures when she was younger. I'm definitely going to continue with it."

Bernice Kish, director of the Slayton House Gallery, said the board's money was well spent.

"The exhibit is just great, and we are hoping to make it an annual event," she said. "It's great for the parents and the community to see what the kids are doing. And some of the kids have never been in the building before. They are pleasantly surprised to see what we have to offer."

The show will be at Slayton House through June 12. Information: 410-730-3987.

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