Cynwyd Trail – Directed Projects, Student Work

Coffee Hour, Tuesday, 1/30 8am – 9am.
Stop by Boland Hall Gallery for coffee a take a look at this series of student photographs.

Angelynn Rodriguez, gelatin silver print

In Spring 2017, Saint Joseph’s University offered “Directed Projects” for the first time. It was a “trial of sorts,” according to Professor Susan Fenton, and the plan was to have students complete three independent projects. However, after the art curator of the Cynwyd Trail Café asked Professor Fenton if she would be interested in showcasing her students’ work at the café, this project was added.

The Cynwyd trail is a paved path where people can bike, walk, rollerblade and hike. The trail runs from Bala Cynwyd to Manyunk, and was once an active train track. At the end of the path sits the Cynwyd Trail Café, which was formerly the old station house. Fenton wanted to incorporate her students’ work into the exhibit, but why not also exhibit the something about the Cynwyd Trail? Professor Fenton had her students go out to the trail without their cameras and take in the scenery, then had them return with a camera.

The students were able to choose from two types of photographic techniques, gelatin silver printing, a film photographic technique, and archival pigment print, which involves digital photography. Those who were using film photography had to use at least one roll of film, and those using digital photography had to take at least 50 shots. Then each student chose one photograph they wanted to exhibit at the café.

According to Angelynn Rodriguez, who chose silver gelatin print, her photograph, “Westminster,” reflected her particularly “creepy” style of photography, “almost like a stalker, meaning not a lot of people tend to be in my photos or it’s usually strangers in the street, going about their day and I’m capturing a moment that I think is happening via my eyes.” “Westminster” highlights what she thinks to be a gate keeper’s quarters or possibly a chapel called Westminster. Angelynn found this abandoned, brick stone Victorian at the end of nature path branching off the Cynwyd trail. She found the building particularly inspiring because one wouldn’t know the building was there at first sight because “you have to actually follow the same foot path that I took in the photo.” For the original print, Angelynn focused on burning and dodging in order to bring out the details of the trail she walked along.

Another student, Xiao Chen, contributed to the project with his archival pigment piece, “294.” “I spent time walking along the Cynwyd trail, photographing everything which could represent the Cynwyd trail. I learned to be patient, you have to look around carefully to get what you want. It was a good experience and I really enjoyed this project.” “294” was the number of the train he photographed. There was no special thing about this train, he exaplined, “I just wanted people to have their attention on the train.” Although Xiao loved the process, he struggled with the color of the photograph, trying to mimic the color on the screen, before it was printed. However, after a couple of attempts, he was finally able to achieve the color he wanted.

Professor Fenton believes the project, and Directed Projects in general, was a success. Although the class was intended to carry out independent projects, the “Cynwyd Trail” brought the class together, while still maintaining independent aspects. Professor Fenton looks forward to showcasing her future students’ work at the Cynwyd Café.

~ Samantha K. O’Connell ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant