On March 21, the McGill University Photography Student Society (MUPSS) hosted its 2019 Annual Exhibit at Gallery Parfois. MUPSS’s exhibition aimed to encourage an exploration of art and expression by highlighting a diverse selection of student works. The photographs on display varied in subject matter and tone, ranging from ethereal landscapes to portraits, and effectively communicated both human fault and vitality.
Submissions to the exhibition were not restricted to MUPSS members or McGill students, allowing for a wide range of pieces on display. This year, the exhibition did not revolve around a specific theme; instead, photos were selected based on their artistry and impact.
“We [received] a thousand or so submissions and [chose] according to what we thought had a message, or [what] we found had very powerful imagery,” Margot Chambon, Vice-President (VP) Communication of MUPSS, U2 Arts said. “We always try to find new photographers and new kinds of eyes, extending our reach on the types of art we show.”
The exhibition was well received and expertly presented, and, despite no overarching theme, the photographs were arranged based on either their colour palette or the tone of their intended message. Though there was no overarching ideology behind the exhibition, the arrangement of the works within the space provided the room with a sense of cohesion. Since the intention of the gallery was left to the viewer’s interpretation, the photos on display acted as an exploration into the self. The thematic open-endedness of the exhibition allowed the viewer to interpret each photograph at first as an independent work and then again as a piece of the whole. Over the course of the evening, viewers would often return to their favourite pieces. According to Chambon, the social quality of the gallery was a priority in its development.
“We tried to create a space that’s for conversation, for discussion of the artwork,” Chambon said. “Not just coming to look for a few seconds and then [leaving], it’s more about meeting each other, talking, and discovering new works and new people.”
Constructive debate and involved conversation act as a fundamental part of the creative process, especially for McGill students who lack access to a fine arts program. Student organizations and initiatives, like the exhibition put on by MUPSS, represented one of the few opportunities in which students get to hone and showcase their craft. Chambon was also featured as one of the exhibiting artists and finds that such an environment can dramatically improve the quality of future work.
“To share work with others and get some insight in the form of both harsh and constructive comments helps your work get better and helps you see what you should keep doing and what you should change,” Chambon said.
MUPSS’s 2019 Annual Exhibition allowed for the exploration of student talent and for engagement within the artistic community. It represents an essential part of the McGill student body, rewarding the hard work and dedication of the artists exhibited.