New stArt exhibit features student photography

A brand new Wake Forest digital photography class displays their work in local art gallery


Christa Dutton

Clark’s photographs “Bladerunner Scape 1” and “Bladerunner Scape 2” reflect the aesthetic of the film “Bladerunner”.

Christa Dutton, News Editor

The stArt.dt gallery recently opened a new exhibit called “Film Stills”, which features students’ work from a Wake Forest digital photography class. 

The stArt.dt gallery is the downtown satellite of the stArt gallery in Reynolda Village and is located on the first and second floors of the Wake Forest School of Medicine. 

The exhibit features Wake Forest student artists from Professor John Pickel’s digital photography class Film Stills: Photographs Inspired By Movies. This experimental special topics course was designed by Pickel and taught for the first time last semester. 

Over the course of the semester, students viewed and discussed films that were related to photography, then created digital photographs inspired by the films. 

The films selected included: Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”, Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow-up”, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, Jocelyn Moorhouse’s “Proof”, John Water’s “Pecker” and Christopher Nolan’s “Memento”. 

Pickel decided to construct this course to add a new facet to his classes and his students’ studies. 

“Partly what inspired [the class] was the fact that I’m in my 36th year of teaching photography,” Pickel said. “I’m trying to keep [my work and teaching] fresh because if I don’t then it is certainly not going to seem exciting and fresh for my students.” 

The course was also inspired by Pickel’s personal interest in the intersection between film and photography. 

“In my own artwork, I’ve approached the idea of creating images that were inspired by film [so I wanted to] try an experimental course about that,” Pickel said. 

According to Pickel, what makes the show unique is that each piece of art is predicated on the student’s interpretation of another piece of art — the film they chose. Pickel noticed that students focusing on the same film perceived it differently, making the photographs deeply personal. 

“It was pleasantly surprising to see how students interpreted the film differently and to see what little scenes attracted them,” Pickel said. 

One student artist featured in the gallery was senior Sammy Clark, a communication and studio art double major from Greenwich, CT. 

Clark has two pieces in the gallery, “Bladerunner Scape 1” and “Bladerunner Scape 2”, each inspired by the film “Bladerunner”. Clark took these two photographs at the top of Rockefeller Center in New York City.

“[The top of the Rockefeller Center] has all these glass walls around the balcony,” Clark said. “All the colors from the city reflect off these glass walls, and I wanted to use that because it reflected a lot of the scenes from the movie. I was just inspired by the moment.” 

Clark found that her photographs reflect the aesthetic context of “Bladerunner”. 

“[Blade Runner] is a futuristic film so you see a lot of neon colors and funky outfits, and I think my piece contains a lot of the same imagery and colors,” Clark said. 

For Clark, having her pieces in the gallery is a chance to showcase her focus of study. 

“Until this year, I was hesitant to show my work in any show because I had never had my work on display like that,” Clark said. “None of my friends are art majors or do any coursework like I do, so it was fun for me to show them the work that I’m doing.” 

Pickel encourages all Wake Forest students to go view their fellow students’ work to see what students in different disciplines are working on. 

Pickel described the show as “highly provocative” because the artwork incites a curiosity about the film from which the art was inspired. “All art should be provocative,” Pickel said. “And that doesn’t mean problematic or offensive, just provocative in the sense that it provokes you to learn.” 

Pickel hopes to teach the class again and incorporate it into the course catalog of the Wake Forest art department. 

“[The class] was highly successful,” Pickel said. “The students were as enthused as I was, and as you can see, the product turned out to be pretty amazing as well.” 

Other student artists featured in the show include Sabrina Bakalis, Zifeng Chen, Emily Clark, Claire Falletta, Suh Kamara, Thomas Rigamonti, Yunqi (Qiqi) Ying and Kehui Zhu. 

The gallery is free to the public and will be on display until Feb. 19.