Photo Fridays on the University of Arizona campus

Standing in the Volkerding Print Viewing Room on the second floor of the John P. Schaefer Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona senior Naomi Davis examines Imogen Cunningham’s “The Unmade Bed” and Jack Welpott’s “Anna in Her Room.”

At first glance, there is not much to the two scenes. They are in black and white and fail to draw attention with their lack of vibrant colors. Cunningham’s photo is just a picture of slept- in mattress, while Welpott’s is a just a picture of woman sitting in her living room.

However, as Davis looks closer, the images begin to change. Creases of the slept-in sheets uncover waves of shadows, which dance off the bed and disappear into the corner of the room. A window creates a spotlight on the woman, uncovering a table that fades in and out of the darkness.

“I think they both have a really nice way of portraying a softness with light and drapery and shadows,” said Davis, a photography major at the UA.

“The Unmade Bed” and “Anna in Her Room” were just two of the works on display at the Center for Creative Photography’s monthly Photo Friday event. On the first Friday of every month, the center pulls lesser-known photographs from its collection of over 100,000 photographs to use in a theme-based exhibit.

February’s edition of Photo Friday, titled “Interiors,” detailed the interaction of spaces, objects and light, according to Cass Fey, curator of education at the center. Rotating with her fellow curators, Fey is responsible for picking the theme and selecting photos for the monthly exhibit. She came up with this month’s theme after being inspired by a photo she had stumbled upon from the collection.

“The idea of interiors is it is something closed within,” Fey said. “There’s one image that’s just a window, a curtain and light, but it’s almost other-worldly.”

According to Fey, the main goal of the monthly exhibits is to widen visitors’ thinking and perspective. The center provides the opportunity to do so by allowing guests a unique way of interacting with the center’s collection of photography.

“It was an opportunity for us to invite the public into see the photographs very close without glasses or people in front of them, in order to create a very personal experience,” Fey said.

In addition to providing visitors with a quiet one-on-one experience with the pictures, the center also sets up tables, which can be used to take notes or write about the paintings, as well as discuss them.

Tony Celentano, a student worker at the Center for Creative Photography, believes that this creates a sense of intimacy between the viewers and the works.

“It gives a chance for the public to see more work from the collection and it gives a chance for the seller to show off some of its permanent collection that otherwise doesn’t get to be seen,” Celentano said.

In addition to the Welpott and Cunningham photographs, the exhibit also featured images from Danny Lyon, Max Yavno and Jo Ann Callis, among others. Other past Photo Friday themes include “Suburbia,” “Signs and Symbols,” and Fey’s favorite, “Death.”

Trevor Hinske, a UA senior and photography major, decided to attend Photo Friday for the first time after hearing about it from the photography listserv. He cited “IRT 2, South Bronx, New York City, 1979” by Lyon as his favorite photograph in this month’s viewing.

“I just thought it was a well-composed image,” Hinske said. “It was pretty interesting and the content was, I think, visually pleasing. It also had a good narrative to it.”

Hinske frequents the events at the Center for Creative Photography, and attended both Photo Friday and Artist’s Talk with Richard Misrach in the past week.

In addition to Photo Friday and Artist’s Talk, the center sponsors a multitude of other events, including exhibits, film screenings and guest speakers. While the majority of students know the center as the location of their general education art class, the museum has featured photographs from Ansel Adams, Frida Kahlo and W. Eugene Smith.

With the lure of the big-name photographers, these events not only draw the attention of students, but from Tucson residents, as well.

After moving from New Mexico to Tucson a year ago, Tom Savage and Linda Vance have attended many events at the Center for Creative Photography. As they are both retired, the couple has time to make it out to the campus-based museum. If there is one thing the two believe the center brings to the community, it’s “class.”

“(The Creative Center for Photography) is a cut above a lot of the art you can see around town,” Vance said.

“(Art) is food for the soul, you got to have it and so many places don’t,” Savage said. “It’s cultural stimulation.”

Just as a piece of art should not be judged by its first glance, the John P. Schaefer for Creative Photography should not be judged by its appearance. After ascending the steps of the box-shaped building and entering through its’ double doors, you are transported into a world of modern photography.

And if the center can promise its visitors one thing, it is an escape from every day life and assimilation into Northern American photographic history.

You can find out more about the John P. Schaefer Center for Creative Photography on their website at www.creativephotography.org.

Note: This assignment was completed for my Journalism 411: Feature Writing class.