Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

BHSU students will showcase photos for upcoming exhibit

‘Below the Surface’ senior photographers pose for a ‘family photo.’
Skott Chandler
‘Below the Surface’ senior photographers pose for a ‘family photo.’

Black Hills State University seniors will be showcasing their photography on Dec. 8 at the Beyond the Surface Expedition held in the basement of Jonas Hall.

Each year, the photography department has a fall semester class for seniors to create contemporary photographs. This year’s expedition will entail the work of eight seniors who have each created 20 pictures over the semester that encompass an impassioned story that goes deeper than the appearance of the photographs.

“It’s a contemporary issue class, it’s like a senior capstone class,” said Rylan Bruns one of the senior photographers for the expedition. “Allen Morris is our professor and it’s like the most free and open class that you have to make a conceptual piece of art and it has 20 photos in total.”

This freedom from the class allows the students to express themselves and gain experience for their careers after college.

“Up until this point in their career they have been given assignments that are pretty straightforward…go make portraits, go take landscape photos, go use studio lights,” said Allen Morris BHSU assistant professor of photography. “With this class—this project— they don’t get any of that, this is fully on them. They have to decide what they want to photograph, how they want to and more importantly why they want to do this.”

With this unique opportunity for the students, they each formed a narrative that comprised a special meaning to the artists. This is how the expedition earned its title, Beyond the Surface due to its curious ideas.

“We just talked it out and we thought about concurrent themes that were in everyone’s work… throughout all of their bodies of work, this idea of time and anxiety and sort of those components of 20-year-old life,” Morris said. “This idea of what is happening below the surface kind of came to the forefront.”

The preparation for the exhibition also encompasses tedious effort and time. For instance, the process of each student producing their photographs and then improving them week after week to capture the emotion that each image series possesses.

The students have also put effort into the final touches for the exhibition and making it show ready. For instance, the photography students have spent hours using measuring tools such as laser lighting to perfectly space out their photos on the wall that will be on display for the exhibition.

Each student has an area of wall to showcase to viewers their favorite pieces of art and how the photographs embody the meanings and narratives that the photographers captured over the semester.

Hope Schumacker: Love, Hopey

Senior photographer Hope Schumacker’s project, Love, Hopey, showcases the tragedy she experienced as a child from the death of her father. Her photos picture places, objects and reminders of her father–who was her best friend. The images are a reminder to Schumacker of her father and the memories they shared while he was on this earth.

“My piece is about grieving like my dad’s death as a young adult and thinking of the places and spaces that we would spend the most time in,” Schumacker said. “Focusing on the memories and the things that helped me grow and kind of like my personal grievance experience because everyone has a different process.”

Rylan Bruns: Impermanence

Bruns’ project, Impermanence, is a narrative about a young man’s experiences of living on his own and how he can now live “freely.” This leads to impulsive actions of developing maturity and trying to find his identity. During this phase in his life he develops unhealthy habits that lead to reckless actions. These coping mechanisms help him to get through the days. After a life check realization, he makes a choice to abandon these imprudent decisions. He decides to make a change in his life of more mature actions which starts his process of evolving again, but this time to be a well-rounded adult.

“My project is like a fictional story about growing up, stages of life and a way of coping with it and like growing from your coping mechanism… just like moving on,” Bruns said.

Ashley Beguin: Self-Made Obstructions

Senior photographer, Ashley Beguin’s project Self-Made Obstructions, is about the human mind and how it is unique to each
person and how there is no set definition on how to describe how it works. Her images picture how her subconscious and anxieties affect her day-to-day life. This leads to overthinking tendencies, creating scenarios that lead to self-sabotage and how the mind can be overwhelming. She manipulated her photos to pictures these thoughts.

“My project is about getting into my own way, so I like super manipulated and composited my images like some have like 14 [images] put into one photo,” Beguin said. “[It’s] just to like make people think when looking at things and kind of show how I feel when I overthink things and when I do get in my own way.”

Larissa Swatek: Not What It Seems

Senior photographer, Larissa Swatek’s project, Not What It Seems, is about how it is living with anxiety on a daily basis. Her photos show what her life is like with battling anxiety and how it affects her. These feelings related to her daily struggles encompass crippling fear, quiet moments of strength and the chaos she has to endure. These pictures range from school work, the gym and going out. Through these difficulties can be overlooked due to the context that she is in and how they appear as normal day activities. But, deep down, each of these photos reflect moments of panic and breakdowns. Through these varieties of activities Swatek conquers her aversions.

“My body of work is about dealing with my anxiety on a daily basis and pretty much how I survive each day with anxiety,” Swatek said. “Most of my stuff is just daily scenarios like that I go through like getting ready or like going shopping or like going to the gym and how it like affects me.”

Sienna Williams: Stretching Innocence

Senior photographer, Sienna Williams, for her project, Stretching Innocence, took an approach to how it is growing up as a woman, specifically as a religious woman, and how it is exhausting to live up to the expectations to conform to social pressures of purity. These pressures to live up to entailed a fear for women for relationships and how they need to resist temptations from impure appearances.

She also felt the overbearing pressure to finding a future husband that would be virtues. This toxic purity culture instilled fear which will prohibit any type of healthy relationship. On the contrary, men are allowed to “make mistakes” which creates a double standard in how men and women should act and dress. This was apparent with her male pastors contradictory standard was seen with her pastors disregarding their marriages and being seen as something that is part of their journey. Their wives, however, had to stay pure to keep their marriages together. Williams took an approach to showcasing toxic purity culture by photographing women in “immodest” clothing. She also printed her photos on fabric showcasing this clothing decision more apparent.

“My project is about purity culture and how growing up being a Christian woman can kind of be exhausting in how you have to be stretched into conforming and fitting into societal standards,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a fabric piece and kind of like sculptural.”

Emilie Dann: A Night Alone

Senior photographer Emilie Dann’s project A Night Alone, is about how women from an early age have certain constraints and how living alone can involve constant fear. There is an expectation of women that they need to act a specific way to avoid dangerous situations while also finding a safe partner and knowing the difference between the two. This world that women live in is frightening. Even in one’s own home women feel anxious, especially living alone. Her photos show the narrative of countless women who have the constant fear of being a victim of nefarious people. Her photos are all set in an eerie, dark setting that provide the viewer an insight of the “what if” and fear behind doors and the shadowy characters that look upon their next victim. With this, women have to live in a state of anxiety and having the fight or flight mentality to arm oneself from these predators. The photos are a variety of scenes from inside and outside of one’s house and how both atmospheres are unsafe.

“It’s called A Night Alone and a night of anxiety in her house by herself,” Beguin said. “It’s a personal narrative about how others in the world still live in constant fear in being the victim of these different characters.”

Sydney Robinson: The Body, Not The Person

Senior photographer, Sydney Robinson’s project, The Body, Not The Person, showcases the changes and toils her body has endured from surgeries. The photos document specific parts of her body that were effected by her chronic illnesses. These photos show the scars, stretch marks and alternations that her procedures left on her body. Robinson used harsh lighting to represent how the doctors viewed her body during these medical operations.

“It is about my body going through so many medical stuff,” Robinson said. “Basically, viewing these parts of my body that I see as broken, painful and gross and getting them back to myself and still viewing them how a lot of doctors have viewed them such as [using] harsh light and cooler tones and highlighting the stretch marks and scars from my surgeries.

Clinton Benet: Blissful Reminisce

Senior photographer, Clinton Benet’s project, Blissful Reminisce, is a story about how when he was young he wanted a certain toy that he never got due to taking into consideration the struggles his parents went through. This led to him creating a imagined world where him and his dream toy would escape reality and go on adventures to avoid the real world and his parents’ struggles. As time progressed, Clinton slowly lost his imaginative mind and became a young adult with a dull view on life. Benet started to reminisce on the past, and through this created a clash of reality of his toy dinosaur world and the real world.

“My project is more about admiring a specific toy when I was young, [and] not that I wanted to bring it up to my parents at the time seeing them struggle on a day-to-day basis,” Benet said. “The older I get; I get changed and shifted in a different situation that doesn’t involve being imaginative…so I don’t imagine anymore. I want to aim in being more imaginative.

The projects that the seniors composed this past semester required diligence and vulnerability.

“The struggle is always really fantastic to witness,” Morris said. “I Know that sounds harsh on the outside, but it’s one of the things that makes students become full-fledged artists.”

The seniors who provided the art for the exhibit, Beyond the Surface, demonstrated that emotion and storytelling are involved in their photographs and how the image without words can say more than what the first glance shows.

“It’s fun to think that they are pushing back on the stereotype that people who are in college or people who are 22, 23 are just façade,” Morris said. “They remind people to think that there is deep thought happening and what they are looking at on the wall is more memorable than what they just see.”

The results of their art will be on display for the rest of the school year showcasing their undeniable talents.

“They came out of this [project] with fantastic, amazing bodies of work that I think that beyond just being aesthetically pleasing, they actually, say something,” Morris said. “The students themselves gained something out of it and I think that is the best part.”