Imitating Life Photo exhibit frames essence of being human

Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor
The work of internationally known, as well as less experienced, photographers will be examined for their incisive contemporary editorial and portraiture value in the exhibit “Portraits of the Human Experience,” opening in the University Art Gallery at California State University on Wednesday, Jan. 28 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. The show will continue through March 17.
Among those featured will be Los Angeles-based photographer Robert Yager, who is best known for his photographs of underground culture in L.A. His works have been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Esquire, and Rolling Stone.
Photojournalist Ted Soqui’s work will also be shown. Soqui has shot numerous stories in the Los Angeles area over the last four decades, including his coverage of the Occupy L.A. movement that resulted in the now iconic image representing Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2011: the protester.
Others include Zalmy Berkowitz’s intimate images of family life, Aubrey Edwards’s portraits of environmentalists from New Orleans and Gregory Bojorquez’s edgy photo collage “East Los Angeles.”
Guest curators Nate Lubben, who graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from the university in 2013 and is now an adjunct instructor on campus, and Ellie Zenhari, assistant professor in the Department of Art and Design, have organized a selection of photographers who they believe have captured the essence of the human spirit in their dramatic compositions.
“The selecting of artists was pooled together from some photographers Ellie and I know and some we reached out to,” Lubben said. “Most of the photographers are professionals and have been exhibiting work for a number of years, while this will be the first time Zalmy Berkowitz shows his work in a gallery setting. We tried to select a diverse group of photographers whose work as a whole give a range of human experiences, from juvenescence to gang culture to activism.”
Lubben said most of the images have been compiled from already existing bodies of work from each photographer, while some are from ongoing series that date back a decade or two.
Aubrey Edwards’s series Terra Incognita was created specifically for the exhibit. She explores the relationship between Louisiana residents and the state’s ever-changing landscape. “From environmental lawyers to architects, her subjects’ work and livelihood are rooted in conservation and struggle, constantly negotiating the human partnership with the regional land as it slowly washes out to sea,” according to her artist statement about the work.
“The unifying thread in the series is that, from childhood to adulthood, we all have experiences in life that guide us down different paths,” Lubben said. “While each occurrence is unique to an individual, there is a connecting force that brings all these circumstances together for people to witness. It is this convergence of events that provides us with Portraits of the Human Experience.”
The opening reception will include the guest curators leading a conversation with the artists beginning at 6pm.
The gallery will also be displaying Student Showcase: The Don Quixote Festival in conjunction with a university-wide festival on the famous novels by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedre. Featuring 36 photographs by Art and Design Department students in Zenhari’s and Lubben’s photography courses, the exhibit explores the various themes in Don Quixote. The exhibit also will include the three winners of the festival’s photo contest: Luis Fierro (first), Adrian Gonzalez (second) and Janet Avila (third).
The University Art Gallery, which is in room A-107 on the first floor of LaCorte Hall, is open from 10am to 4pm Monday through Thursday. Admission is free. Visitor parking in campus lots requires a parking permit, which is sold for $5 at yellow dispensing machines at each lot. For more information about the venue, visit .­­Occupy L.A.

“Eastsider Collage,
“Eastsider Collage,” photos by Gregory Bojorquez
“National Day Of Action,
“National Day Of Action,” photo by Ted Soqui

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