The Astoria Project: An Exhibition By LaGCC Photography Program
A recent press release by CUNY's LaGuardia Community College announced a joint project with the Max Planck Institute of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. The institute is an international research organization which was doing a project on the cultural diversity of Astoria and needed professional photographs taken of the people and places of the Queens neighborhood. So they turned to LaGuardia Community College and the students in its commercial photography program.
The results: 50 stunning black and white and color images that will be on exhibit at LaGuardia Community College beginning April 11 (in the College’s B-building (3rd floor) at 30-20 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, from 6 to 8 p.m.) before traveling to Europe, Asia and Africa.
“LaGuardia is located on the edge of this neighborhood and I wanted to incorporate a local institution into my project,” said Dr. Anna Cieslik, the project coordinator, who added that she had seen a prior photography exhibition of student work and was very impressed. “Apart from relying on my photos, I wanted to see the neighborhood through students’ eyes, and find out how they perceive their neighborhood.”
Scott Sternbach, director of the commercial photography program, said that the students who took on the assignment were given total artistic freedom. “There was no structure,” he said. “They just were asked to express diversity in their own way, whether it was through portraits, mixed environment with portraiture, or street scenes.”
Although there are many neighborhood images, portraiture dominates the exhibition. “I found it very interesting that for many students’ interethnic encounters seemed to be the encounter between themselves and their subjects,” said Dr. Cieslik. “As a result we have more portraits than I expected. They are all absolutely stunning.”
Mr. Sternbach said the project was an invaluable learning experience for his students. “Having the students collaborate on a professional level impacted their education at LaGuardia and helped them to better understand the transition they will eventually be making into the real world.”
After the exhibition closes in June, it will travel to different locations in Germany, the first being Goettingen, the hometown of Max Planck Institute, and then on to other research locations in Singapore and Johannesburg.
The exhibition viewing hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m in the College’s B-building (3rd floor) at 30-20 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, from 6 to 8 p.m.