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Miriam Rosenhaus ’12 writes about her photography research with Karina Skvirsky, assistant professor of art

Miriam Rosenhaus ’12 (Morristown, N.J.), an art and philosophy double major, performed research and photography work as an EXCEL scholar with Karina Skvirsky, assistant professor of art. Skivirsky’s art is appearing in three exhibitions this semester and in her new art book, The end is near but I don’t want to go.

The world of contemporary art often baffles me. A look at some obscure modern pieces often elicits the response, “That’s art?!?!” In my research with Professor Skivirsky, I began to appreciate the depth, thought, and meaning behind present-day art.

Professor Skivirsky pulls sounds and images from various pop culture mediums in order to relate and comment upon modern society. In my research, I collected a sample of text and sounds for Professor Skivirsky to include in her exhibits. For my first assignment, I gathered quotes from the Bible relating to the apocalypse, a topic that Professor Skivirsky was interested in pursuing.

In my time doing research for Professor Skivirsky, her interest in the apocalypse developed and transformed to take an entirely new form as she took interest in new topics including evolution, the destruction of the environment, and contemporary society’s obsession with plastic surgery. I began to collect text from other sources including Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, various documentaries on plastic surgery, and Darwin’s The Origin of Species.

Additionally, working alongside another EXCEL student, Crystal Burey ’10, we photographed Professor Skivirsky for the production of an art book to accompany an exhibit. The process of photographing Professor Skivirsky was fascinating, I learned a great deal about shooting in a studio setting.

The sessions were not only educational, but also surprisingly entertaining.  Professor Skivirsky would sport various costumes and poses to suit the photograph.  For example, one shot featured a compilation of a shot from the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, and a photo of Professor Skivirsky in business attire feigning her own abduction.

Overall, my hands-on research with Professor Skivirsky has contributed to my development as a photographer and my appreciation of contemporary art. The opportunity to work closely with a talented artist and inspirational mentor like Professor Skivirsky has provided me with an invaluable insight into this illustrious world.

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