Personality through portraits

The Centennial Student Union art gallery is currently showcasing photography works by Minnesota State University, Mankato photography students. 

The exhibit features 18 artists from the intermediate and advanced photography courses, who were instructed to submit portraits with few constraints with the goal of showing a subject’s identity or telling a story to whatever the artist saw fit. 

Located on the ground floor of the CSU, the art gallery features more than just student works. It also hosts exhibits with pieces by faculty, as well as both local and national artists.  

The title of the exhibit, “Portraits”, is used as a loose definition. Many photographs focus on other parts of the body than the head and face, such as hands. 

“Perhaps we learn as much about them from their gestures, clothing, and surroundings,” reads the description at the gallery’s entrance.  

Among the photography students Wyatt Ryan, a junior at MSU, is currently featuring two of his photos at the gallery.  

Ryan’s approach to his portraits was impromptu and takes the landscape and equipment into account while choosing the perfect shot to highlight his subjects’ nature. 

“The black and white shot, that’s a film shot. This is a film I never use and I wanted to test it out, and there happened to be a big giant window that gave it that great lighting. There’s a lot of depth to it,” says Ryan. 

Another artist featured is senior Zachary Baldwin. His work for the gallery centers around fellow artist and neighbor, a man named Bob. For Baldwin, the perspective of a camera is not always enough to truly capture a story. 

“I think that multi-media approaches are sometimes necessary to tell the story. With Bob being multifaceted in his artistic ways, I felt that was the best way to tell the story of him, with more than just the photography,” said Baldwin.

In addition to a central portrait of Bob, he also included smaller images accompanied by poems. 

The art and design programs here at MSU allow students to specialize in a wide range of mediums, from ceramics to installation to painting. These classes also encourage students to step outside of their comfort zones.

“I don’t shoot portraits a lot, I’m more of a landscape type of person. I think the stuff they’re having us do is very different from what I’m used to, so that’s a good perspective to have,” says Ryan. 

In addition to encouraging students to branch out artistically, participating in the program can have other creative benefits. While students in other programs may find assignments cumbersome, that isn’t always the case for those in the art department. 

“My experience with most art classes is that having a reason to create is helpful to get out of creative ruts,” Baldwin explained. 

The photography exhibit will be featured in the gallery through Feb. 17 and is open between 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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