Photography students shine lens on life at Wikoff Gallery

Publication Date

By Dorothy Hazan ’16

A new exhibition in the Wikoff Student Gallery features works by six Union students who were enrolled in Professor Martin Benjamin’s fall term advanced photography class.

“Selections from Photography 3: Color Digital Photography” is on display on the third floor of the Nott Memorial.


Participating artists are Chelsea Baptiste ’13, Elizabeth Cohen, ’13, Charlotte Lehman ’14, Hallie Manheim ’13, Alexandra Napp ’13 and Kaitlyn Thoen ’14. Their work ranges in subject and style, from portraits to conceptual images.

“Photographs can be organic and simple, yet have depth and significance when looked at more closely,” said Manheim, who is interested in the intersection of art, food, fashion and culture and whose collection focuses on form – the lines, movement and shapes of her subjects.

Baptiste’s portfolio, “Misplaced Beauty” focuses on emotion and beauty, while Lehman’s untitled portfolio pays homage to her close connection with her sisters.

“My relationships with my sisters pervade every aspect of my life and especially my art, as I came to discover through this project,” Lehman said.

Sociology major Cohen’s “The Deadly Sins of Pop Culture” examines what she calls “young, rich and fabulously stupid” behavior.” And Napp, a psychology major, considers the effect that numbers have on people’s lives.

Finally, Thoen wanted her portraits to explore shadow, rather than light.

“It is what you cannot see in the darkness, fragments, profiles and silhouettes of these portraits that is most intriguing,” Thoen said. “Let your mind fill in the blanks.”

The Wikoff show runs through April 1.

Chelsea Baptiste
The variation that the concept of misplaced beauty allows provides so many options and possibilities, which ultimately gave my project many different angles. I captured as many raw and sincere moments as possible because capturing genuine emotion has a very surreal effect that radiates through the camera lens. ‘Misplaced Beauty’ is a concept that is both powerful and meaningful because it compels a person to find the beauty in an otherwise, for lack of better words, not-so-beautiful setting.
Chelsea is a senior from Oldwick, NJ. “Photography has always been a passion within my family and as I have grown up my focus has gravitated towards both landscape and fashion photography. While my most recent projects have focused solely on emotion and beauty, I plan to incorporate landscape photography into my future projects, while still emphasizing aspects of fashion.”
Titles: A Perfect Imperfection (shoes), Underneath It All (bathtub), Fallen (red dress), from the portfolio entitled, “Misplaced Beauty”

Elizabeth Cohen
Pandora’s Box. Adam and Eve. Hormones. We’ve tried to explain why sins surround us since the beginning of time. Yet, we take part willingly. The truth is WE are why the sins of the world exist. Being in college there is a lot of “Young, Rich and Fabulously Stupid” behavior. This behavior is intriguing and without judgment I wanted to take part behind my lens. No one can appreciate the light in life without a good amount of darkness to scare them.
Elizabeth is a senior and sociology major from Westchester, New York. Her mother works with photographers, and though photography is something she has always loved, she never thought she would be “good” at it. After taking Photo 1 with Professor Benjamin junior year, she fell in love with the medium and took Photo 3 this past fall. “Having the freedom to explore different ideas and techniques allowed me to find my personal style and the ability to make a statement I thought was important.”
Titles: Wrath, Vanity, and Pride, 2012, Color Digital Prints, from portfolio, “The Deadly Sins of Pop Culture”

Charlotte Lehman
When I began this project, my focus was a very broad subject: two. It soon became a project of narrative photography, exploring the unique relationship between two subjects and ultimately focusing primarily on the relationship between sisters. My relationships with my sisters pervade every aspect of my life and especially my art, as I came to discover through this project.
Charlotte is a junior from Geneva, NY. She has three younger sisters and she enjoys filmmaking and photography, especially portraiture.
Titles: all images, Untitled, October and November 2012, Color Digital Prints

Hallie Manheim
We often pay quite a bit of attention to what someone is wearing: if the colors and textures work together, if the prints and fabrics complement. The results affect many of our senses and emotions. We often look at food in the same way: do the colors of the ingredients on a plate lend something special and are you tempted to eat the food because of the arrangement or the texture? My work focuses on form above all else, relying on lines, movement, and shapes of my subjects, human or vegetable. This brings the eye from one picture to the next, in a single movement. Like clothes and ingredients, photographs can be organic and simple on the surface, yet have depth and significance when looked at more closely.
Senior Hallie Phillips Manheim hails from Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. She has always been interested in the intersection of art, food, fashion and culture (and indeed, the psychology within those fields) and hopes to carve a career within that field of interest. Once she took hold of her grandfather’s film camera, she became entranced by the world of photography as medium to bring her own ‘edge’ to this intersection. She has worked as an assistant for notable food and lifestyle photographers in the greater D.C. area and has had the wonderful opportunity to be involved with many publications as she explores her passions.
Titles: overshadowed (tomatoes), seduction (red pepper), and swirled (tomatillo)

Alexandra Napp
On a regular day in class, as I prepared to work on mundane pictures of numbers on door frames, I spilled my bag of tampons, birth control, floss and a condom. Scrambling to collect my stuff, I realized that all of these personal items were numbered and that the strong emotion I felt about exposing them was inspiration for an amazing project.
Numbers are guidelines that tell you what dose to take, when to throw something away, which route to travel, and how much to pay. I hate relinquishing control by following directions or taking orders; numbers are the only guidelines I follow. These photographs are some of my most personal items. All of them are numbered.
Alexandra is a senior psychology major from Westchester, NY. Photography has always been an important part of her life as both her mother and father document every breath she takes through photography. After partaking in Professor Benjamin’s photography classes, she began to understand her family’s love for the art and truly developed her own passion for it as well.
Titles: Best before:, No. 2, and October 2nd, Color Digital Prints, from the portfolio, “Numbers”

Kaitlyn Thoen
While the basis of photography is light, I wanted to explore the darkness. Shadows- both literally as well as in reference to the darker side of our emotions- dominate these photographs. It is what you cannot see in the darkness, fragments, profiles, and silhouettes of these portraits that is most intriguing. Let your mind fill in the blanks.
Kaitlyn Thoen is a current junior at Union College, originally from Illinois. She is pursuing an Interdepartmental Psychology and Visual Arts Major and a Dance Minor. Her interest in photography was sparked in high school after taking a black and white film photography course in France. Since arriving at Union she has continued her studies in both black and white and digital photography.
Titles: Arian 2, Lucas 4, and Maryssa 6, Color Digital Prints, from the portfolio, “Twenty Shades of Shade”