CSU boomed for free collage 

Students gathered at the Minnesota State’s Centennial Student Union over the weekend and lined up to have their photos taken. The man behind the camera, Josh Madson, known for his unique photography skills, captured all who were ready to join the Collage. 

Madson is a photographer and founder of The Mankato Community Collage Project.

The CSU’s Hearth Lounge was booming with students. 

“We’re trying to capture them photographically, but also in black and white. To strip away any unnecessary layers because one of the points of the project is to unify people and show that we’re very similar to each other. We’re setting up in the student union to capture as many people as we can. To show them in the best light possible and have that be a great representation of the whole student body,” Madson said.

Madson expressed his excitement to work on this project. 

It is a “cool opportunity to showcase all the different cultures and people here in Mankato,” he said.

As for other projects in Madson’s repertoire, he mentioned they have surpassed this year’s goals, enough to restructure and realign with a new vision.

“I created the Community Collage project last year, and we photographed 850 people in three days. And then did a huge exhibition in September of 2023 at the Coffee Hag.his year we decided to do it again,” Madson said. “We actually, as of Friday, photographed 2,300 people, already surpassing the goal of 2,000 for this year. So now I’ve made a new goal of 4,000 people.”

Student Government President Sierra Roiger mentioned her interest in bringing Josh Madson to the campus. 

“A few months ago, President Inch, Josh Madson and I had lunch in the University Dining Center and discussed the potential of the Community Collage coming to campus. The vision was to be able to show the campus and the Mankato community, who it is that makes us, and that is the students, faculty, and staff of our campus,”  Roiger stated.

At President Inch’s retreat in August, various portraits Madson captured of the local community were displayed. 

“Josh had this way about how he captured the pictures that were different from a typical, ‘Hold still-say cheeseburger’ type of style. He made it fun and brought out the personality of each person and group which I thought was truly beautiful. I wanted to bring that same energy back to our campus and our students.”

Roiger also shared that the collage, “will hopefully be used in various ways, at commencement ceremonies, events, etc.”

Ekaterina Kleshchenko, a student majoring in TESOL, was one of the students to take part in the photo shoot. 

“I decided to go come here to meet Josh, because apart from taking photos here, he is going to be a keynote speaker at the GSEA conference organized by the English department on Friday. So I wanted to get acquainted with him,” Kleshchenko said. “I was not a fan of photos, but he managed to persuade me to get the photos taken.”

Kleshchenko took different types of poses for photo shoots. 

“I tried a leaning pose and also smiled. Because once I was told by a professional that it’s not just about poses, facial expressions are just as important.”

Kesha Rana Thapa, also majoring in TESOL, mentioned the poses that Josh Madson helped her with when the photos were taken.

“All the poses were chosen by Josh, and as I took a photo with my friend, he held my hand on her shoulders and also took photos with us making different poses together with my friend,” Thapa said.

Thapa was excited to be at the event, because it is “great to have this kind of opportunity in the university, and also give many students a chance to see first hand his methods and skills.”

Student Anthony Payne, majoring in finance, who took part in the event shared some of the reasons why he was compelled to join.

“I think the photos are excellent and it’s a well run program. There’s nice upbeat music and warm faces. They also have a hype man who motivated me,” Payne said.

Payne explained the different poses he struck were, “kind of a more serious pose. I got my jacket on. I took photos without the jacket, where I looked at the camera.”

When focusing on thoughts about the entire event, Payne had this to say. “I think it’s very good on a given day to have all these people with different faces. It’s representative of what a day in the union looks like.”

Header photo: Josh Madson took pictures of students in the CSU for The Community Collage Project over the weekend to capture different cultures in Mankato. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Biruk Mengesha at

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