Chapman Lenses

by Shanna Klahn 

Frustrated after being kicked out of the on campus photography lab at 9pm, Madeline Lucas, junior studio art major, found herself mixing chemicals and turning her garage into a make shift dark room.

Chapman art students like Lucas are dedicated to their artwork and are going to great lengths to achieve their artistic goals.

“I blazed through 24 exposures,” said Dylan Trumbull, senior studio art major, as he recalled winning his first camera in a school raffle in the first grade.

Whether they have been staring through the lens for the majority of their lives or just recently discovered their love of photography, Chapman’s art department is bursting with talented photographers. They are a diverse group of students with an array of styles, views, and inspirations of which they are eager to share with the world.

Trumbull, who has been taking photos since the first grade, became particularly interested in photography his freshman year of high school which impacted his choice in colleges.

“I came to Chapman because I wanted a balanced college experience,” Trumbull said. “Chapman has a competitive water polo team which was important to me, but also an art department and a social life.”

Art students such as Dani Planto, a sophomore studio art major, came to Chapman for similar reasons.

“It’s the perfect size. Chapman has a photography program but it is not specifically an art school, it has other great programs too,” Planto said.  

Thrones by Dani Planto submitted for the Spring Art Show at Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University.
Thrones by Dani Planto submitted for the Spring Art Show at Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University.

Each art students has their own personal style and vision that they are trying to achieve through their work.

“Experimenting, chance, science, and the spiritual,” said Lucas when asked to describe her work.

Always shot on film, her work usually consists of some type of intervention, whether that be touching the film or double exposures, her work is always intriguing.

“I’m analog, baby,” Lucas said, “Anyone can take digital photographs. I have however, come to implement Photoshop and inkjet printers more and more.”

Her preference of film in a digital age shows her drive to overcome not only the obstacle of being an artist but also that she is willing to work in a medium that is rapidly being replaced.  

In contrast, Planto’s work tends to be more lighthearted.

“I like to use humor and explore the past in my work,” Planto said.

That style could be seen in one of her most recent pieces where she reenacted memories from her childhood as self-portraits. The juxtaposition of her current age and the actions taking place made her class laugh while still raising questions about the past and how to portray it.

“My photos may not be visually appealing to some people, but I shoot what I see as interesting, not what other people might find to be interesting,” Planto said.

In her work, Planto often references her favorite artist, John Baldessari.

“He goes against the norm and he is not afraid to break the rules of photography. I am interested in doing that too,” Planto said.

Trumbull is very dissimilar to both Lucas and Planto when it comes to his photography. His photographs leave a lot up to interpretation with the use of bright colors and blur.

“My work focuses on color, line, and style,” he said. “When I post my work on social media, I get a lot of shit for it, but I think they’re interesting.”

Following suit with their diverse artistic interests they have all had unique experiences in the art world inside and outside of Chapman’s borders.

“In my contemporary gallery practice class we went to L.A. every other Friday and looked at galleries and institutions,” Trumbull said, “It really helped with networking and getting internships.”

Trumbull had an internship with the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles and over interterm this past year, went to the Rubell Family Collection in Miami with other students, including Lucas, to intern for a month.

Lucas has had the opportunity to intern with François Ghebaly Gallery since last September.

“I love working for François, its yielded lots of opportunities and actual art world experience,” said Lucas.

Madeline Lucas, Chalk Mine taken in the Mohave Desert.
Madeline Lucas, Chalk Mine taken in the Mohave Desert.

Planto, Lucas, and Trumbull have all had different college experience that have influenced their art and the opportunities presented to them and none of them are looking to stray from the art path they are on now.

Being only a sophomore, Planto plans to have an internship this coming fall and hopes it will aid her in reaching her career goals.

“After graduation I would like to work in a gallery in L.A. and from there become a gallery director. I’d love to be a gallery owner!” Planto said.

Lucas, with only a year left at Chapman, knows she wants to take some time off and travel after graduation, but she will eventually pursue grad school for art.

“I think there is something to be said for taking the time to perfect your craft,” Lucas said.

The dreaded after graduation plans are looking exceedingly bright for Trumbull.

“I have a paid internship lined up at the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery in Italy,” Trumbull said.

From first grade to senior year at Chapman, from Los Angeles to Miami, and Orange to Italy, Chapman’s photography students are pursing their passion for photography far and wide.

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