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May is the month for the annual Student Photography Show at Art Center Ukiah and the Corner Gallery. Photography Instructor Lech Slocinski is making sure to shake it up a bit to keep things fresh and interesting, so nothing about this show will be repetitious besides the fact that it’s up in May.

This is the first year that Lech’s photography students are not all from Ukiah High School. He is now teaching four dual enrollment classes, with high school and college students participating together. One semester he focuses on Photoshop, and the other semester is dedicated to the art of photography. There is a fifth dual enrollment class for advanced students, which adds up to about 125 students studying under Lech this school year.

With this new format and some older students under his wing, Lech is pushing the creative envelope more than ever. Never one to rest on a tried and true format, he embraces the changing technology of our world. “Mirrorless cameras are now popular,” Lech says, “and they are rewriting the field of photography. They feel different. It’s still photography, but the tools are different.”

“A huge new tool is Artificial Intelligence, and it is here,” Lech declares before launching into some of the issues this amazing technology brings up. “What does it mean to create, now that we can use AI? It uses stuff that is already there and mixes it up kind of like in a dream. AI produces fantastic images… but there is always that question… is it a creation or a compilation? All art is actually a compilation of borrowed ideas as well… we just improve on what we already know… so how do we judge any kind of art, including that created by AI?”

Lech continues, “AI can create images - you write the script and AI collects and puts together the image. Depending on the algorithms it will be more or less creative. Is this kind of synthesis of other work creative? You won’t be able to tell the difference since the quality is so good. It can be very interesting, so well done, so fast. So why would a person hire a human graphic artist? Where are we going with this? How will art be defined? It’s the same old question… are we looking at the creation or the creator? Is it about the artist or the tools?”

With all these questions and few answers, Lech muses, “There is still a common denominator, which is light. Whatever we are doing in photography, we are writing in light.” Consequently, the theme chosen for this exciting show is “Written in Light.”

Lech, as a jury of one, will choose what he considers to be the best of all the photos produced in his classes. Instead of every student being represented as they have been in the past, Lech will choose fewer shots and make larger prints to create a more dynamic and approachable show. Some students will have many photos in the show, some one, and some none. Both cell phone and camera work will be represented, and the main criterion will be composition. “Composition is the most important aspect of photography,” Lech explains, “and regardless of technique, it’s the conscious approach to designing photos that matters most.”

A small group of professional photographers (possibly including a former student or two) will serve as the jury. They will choose the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in addition to several honorable mention awards.

“Written in Light” will be presented in the front windows of the Corner Gallery as well as in the Art Center Ukiah space at the back of the gallery. The show is generously sponsored by both the Mendocino County of Education and the Savings Bank of Mendocino County.

The First Friday opening reception for this show will be on May 5 from 5-8pm. Live music will be provided by Michael Oberg (Obie) throughout the evening. The Corner Gallery is located at 201 S State St in Ukiah.

And back by popular demand, Lech will once again teach a free workshop on cell phone photography in conjunction with this show. Last year’s waiting list was long, so it’s imperative to sign up for the class early if you want to enjoy this opportunity to hone your photography skills with the support of a master. The class will be limited to16 participants. The only thing that needs to be brought to the class is your cell phone. Interested folks can call the Corner Gallery at 462-1400 (leave a message if we’re not open) to reserve a space, or come by the gallery to sign up in person. The class will be held at Art Center Ukiah, in the back of the Corner Gallery, on Saturday May 13 from 1-4pm.


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