February 27, 2013
From zero to fifty in five years, the number of majors in the photography program at Seattle University
grows every year under the direction of Professor Claire
Garoutte, who came to photography after meeting a
Mauritanian photojournalist in college, published her first book, Matter of
Trust, in 1996. She was working as the house photographer for glass
artist Dale Chihuly when her passion for art and culture led her to Cuba. There
she documented Afro-Cuban rituals and later published a second book, Crossing
the Water: A Path to the Afro-Cuban Spirit World.
8-year stint as education director at Photographic Center Northwest, she joined
the faculty in the College
of Arts and Sciences. Hired to develop a BFA
in photography, Garoutte brings the same passion to her teaching as she does
to her art. Today, her students eagerly follow in her footsteps.
Saigon, a neighborhood adjacent to campus, has been the economic and social
center for Seattle’s Vietnamese population since the early 1980s. Last fall, the
annual photo competition “EXPOSED:
Little Saigon” offered cash prizes for winners in four categories: culture,
spaces and places, food, and the marketplace. Four students joined Garoutte for
two days, reviewed each other’s work, and then made their submissions.
When the awards were announced in December, junior Bridget Baker took prizes
in the marketplace category, the Voters’ Choice Award, and an Artistic
Excellence Award. First year student Taylor Spencer received awards in the food
and marketplace categories as well as an Artistic Excellence Award. In addition,
photographs by juniors Svetlana Blinderman and Felix Hidajat were chosen by jury
to be included in the December exhibition.
Baker enjoys exploring and
documenting her first impressions: “I focus on alignment, symmetry, and color,
but straight forward with a twist.
Urban street photography is where
Spencer excels: “I like crowds, and Little Saigon is filled with people
shopping. The markets are exciting.”
“It was a good experience to engage
with people I didn’t know and take their photos,” Hidajat said. “It was
different to get involved in that community and not think of them as
For Blinderman, the experience built on her interests in
architecture and history: “It’s important to document life in cities, capturing
culture, people, and place in a thriving community. Cities change quickly.”
The students enjoyed a reception for the artists in Seattle’s International
District. In February, the exhibit moved to the Seattle Center for the Tet in
Seattle Festival, celebrating the Vietnamese New Year.
The College of
Arts and Sciences offers 42 undergraduate majors, 37 minors, and 7 master's degrees, including an MFA
in Arts Leadership.
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