This past First Friday, the walls of Jungle Science were home to the exhibition “Capturing Raw Light,” which featured works by Binghamton University photography students.
The space was full of antique quirks like ironwork and tin ceilings that, coupled with bright white walls that did not fully reach the ceiling in turn, left the space feeling laid-back and airy. The mixture of classic and modern elements provided a gorgeous yet understated backdrop that allowed the student work to shine.
The University has two photography professors, Costa Sakellariou and Hans Gindlesberger. Students of both professors had work displayed in the bright and airy Court Street gallery. While some of the art was the result of projects assigned by the professors, other works were student directed.
Sidney Ogunsekan, a junior majoring in business administration, had a collection of photos entitled “What’s Next” that depicted the less glamorous side of life, including one of a man sitting on a dirty orange cooler and grilling food in a parking lot, in an attempt to force the observer to self-reflect.
“It’s basically an exploration of what the future means for all of us,” Ogunsekan said. “And, ‘why are we doing whatever we do and is there an end goal to anything that we do?’”
“Modern Mythology,” a collection by Lia Shaked, a senior double-majoring in graphic design and psychology, featured her modern take on classical mythology. One featured “Midas,” who Shaked describes as “a Wall Street guy” in a suit, flashing cash. Another featured Hades and Persephone, in which Persephone stares into the camera looking frightened and dejected because of her relationship, to which Shaked attributed feelings of “harassment and unwanted love.” One commonality in Shaked’s works was that she hardly used faces. In all but the photo of Hades and Persephone, the subjects were either captured from the neck down, or were looking away from the camera.
Amber Decker, a junior majoring in human development, appreciated the show and what it meant for those who were featured.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for students be able to get their work off campus,” Decker said. “Especially at First Friday, it’s really good exposure for them.”
One work that was particularly striking was that of John-Raymond De Bard, a senior majoring in art and design. His collection featured a jarring juxtaposition between hard and soft, showing the beautifully eerie Roberson Museum next to the long-neglected New York State Inebriate Asylum.
“When people look at Binghamton they see a lot of the earth decay, but there can be a lot more to it than that,” De Bard said. “There can be sort of stories behind it.”
Jungle Science has hosted this event for the last seven to eight years, and owner Brent Williamson has enjoyed the partnership.
“It’s fucking awesome,” Williamson said. “It’s just cool to have that vibe of students.”
However, this will be the last year for this union, as Williamson plans to close Jungle Science in October to renovate and reopen the gallery to showcase his own work.
The ability for students to showcase their work in person as opposed to just digitally was very important to Sakellariou.
“I think that it’s really important to have exhibitions,” Sakellariou said. “To make photographs that are more than just being screens. Because everybody is looking at stuff on screens today — phones, computers — and that’s very lame compared to a real print.”
Sakellariou was very proud of his students’ work, and like Williamson, is happy that the students get this opportunity.
“Rather than just doing some kind of abstract learning,” Sakellariou said. “It’s nice to have something that happens, that comes, that you do work and then you see it — you see a final production that other people look at, and you get an incredible rush from that.”