If you're interested in buying photos from the show, contact Lec at firstname.lastname@example.org
HIGH SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW at Art Center Ukiah/Corner Gallery
By Laura Fogg
May is the month when high school photography students take over both the front windows of the Corner Gallery and the back space belonging to Art Center Ukiah. Their creative, unpredictable and surprisingly excellent work is always a joy to behold, and the show is eagerly anticipated by a wide variety of community members. This May will be the thirteenth consecutive year for this show... even during 2019 when the gallery was closed due to COVID the photos on the theme of "Shelter in Place" were mounted on boards and displayed in the front windows where passers-by could stop and enjoy them.
Ukiahi photography instructor Lech Slocinski is the magician behind this display of young talent. The idea came to him thirteen years ago when he walked into the gallery on a whim and asked the person sitting behind the desk if it would be possible to put together a show of his high school students' work. The answer, happily, was "Of course!"
The theme of this year's show is "Transitions." Lech explains, "We are transitioning from film to digital, and from professional cameras to everyday cell phones. It's democratization of the medium and it gives everybody a chance...like American Idol."
Lech continues, "Especially now that we are coming back from COVID with too many years of kids being online using cell phones constantly, I want to give my students a way to improve their game. Kids take photos all the time and post them, and a lot of the pictures aren't interesting. Why not teach them to get better at it by learning the basic art skills to do good composition, patterns, line, color and shapes? It's a tool that's easy to use so if you develop your eye the images can be great."
His own experience of posting one photo per day on Instagram throughout the pandemic gave Lech an inspiration to challenge his students to do the same thing. He elaborated that this activity gave the kids the opportunity to learn by doing. Lech sees the immediacy of the cell phone's results and the flaws of the grainy texture when the photos get blown up as assets, and he encouraged everyone to do whatever they felt like to celebrate and explore the freedom of the medium.
Lech teaches a total of 120 students in his high school and dual enrollment college classes. He is the sole person to jury the hundreds of photos they submit for the show... he chooses the ones that he thinks are the most visually and technically interesting, with a compelling message or special dialogue with viewers. As in years past, the judging for first, second and third places plus some honorable mentions is delegated to Ukiah's two most renowned professional photographers- Tom Liden and Chris Pugh.
When asked about prizes for the winners, Lech laughed, "What are the kids going to do with $25 or $50?" He explained that he has a much better plan... "The winners will be treated to lunch with me and the two judges, where we can all talk about photography and they can get feedback about their submissions. Lech continues, "This is an opportunity for the adults to promote photography as a possible career and to encourage the kids to keep doing it."
The First Friday opening of the show will be on May 6 from 5-8pm. Live music will be provided by Steve Winkle. The Corner Gallery/Art center Ukiah is located at 201 S State St in Ukiah.
Another special event will be a class on cell phone photography taught by Lech. Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation, Art Center Ukiah is able to pay professional artists to teach free workshops related to most of the themed shows through March of 2023. The class is open to everyone and will be held at Art Center Ukiah on Saturday May 14 from 1-4. Though there is no fee, people are asked to sign up ahead of time since space is limited. A sign-up sheet is located at the Corner Gallery.