Eye to Eye: The photographic showcase of 6 powerful women


Kennady Basdekis-Morin

Not long after the doors opened, the exhibition space was crowded with people embarking on the visual experience that was “Eye to Eye.” The room hummed with conversation and there was a successful turnout for the opening night.

On Friday, March 25, the Fine Arts Center’s gallery doors opened promptly at 6:00 p.m. for the photo majors’ senior showcase. Tunes like “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals and “Hella Good” by No Doubt filled the courtyard as students, faculty and families entered the lobby.

Guests were greeted with a smile and a table filled with prints, stickers and posters. Upon entering the space, people were awed by the photographs hung on the wall.  

 “Eye to Eye” is the thought-child and the visual storytelling of six women who have walked different paths to their graduation stage. Seniors Scarlet Hobbs, Maia Castillo, Sissy Gust, Jordan Joplin, Ariah Alba and Emma Sparks created an experience through various photographic mediums, highlighting individuality and the common threads that connect us to a deeper understanding of each other.

“We brainstormed about how we would integrate a faith-based project with a project about being a stripper,” Hobbs said. “The balance is crazy, and it can be difficult to create a group exhibition with various perspectives and personalities. That’s when we had our ‘aha’ moment of being able to see eye to eye even though we are all so completely different; that’s where the show’s identity came from.”

Broadening their perspectives was a significant factor in preparing for the show. Seeing through one another lenses, they spent the last four years honing their crafts and creating bodies of work that encompass the unity amongst their individuality.

Some of the works had more interactive elements: Viewers could listen to original soundtracks through the headphones accompanying Hobbs’s theater-marquee movie stills where she debuted as the main character in her quirky, whimsical self-portraiture.

Sparks’ installation invited viewers into a space lined with shiny red silk curtains, resembling the VIP room inside of a gentlemen’s club. People could be found perched on the alligator-upholstered couch, flipping through her documentary-styled book about the power behind women in the sex work industry.

“I approached my vision as both a photographer and a dancer,” Sparks said. “It was vital for me to take the audience into that space and have them think about how they view the strip club industry and sex workers as a whole. My hope is that they take away a new perspective from the experience and the raw, unedited photos in my book.”

Gust had mannequins on pedestals decorated in her haute couture-inspired accessories, belts and headpieces made entirely of chains and beads. People could walk in between and admire her handcrafted designs, while behind them hung Gust’s prints of models that accentuated the duality of her jewelry’s edgy and delicate side.  

Joplin, Alba and Castillo used their work to open the floor up for dialogue. Various topics like nature conservation, the relation between faith and artistry, as well as traumas held within the body through our memories were present within their work. 

“There were times when I worried if the body of work would be too much or if it would even be reciprocated,” Castillo said. “In a way, this project was an outlet for me not to be ashamed and to confront (trauma) head-on, because I came in with the intention of the project being for myself and put aside what the audience would think at first but found that they ended up aligning with each other and that people can read the artist statement, look at the work and take something away from it.”

The show was a mark that each one of these six strong beautiful women left on their final semester at the Hilltop. For them, this show was the beginning of what is to come from their talents as they move towards their futures in various creative fields with confidence and stride. 

For students who missed the show, the various works and more information on the photographers can be found on the exhibits instagram @eyetoeye.exhibition