Alumni Exhibition Raises Money for Hungry Students

At Santa Monica College (SMC). The general population come to check out the Alumni Exhibition & Silent auction fundraiser for hungry students. Saturday Sept. 28th,2019 On the 2nd Floor of Drescher Hall at 1900 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica Calif. (Randy Martinez/The Corsair)

At Santa Monica College (SMC). The general population come to check out the Alumni Exhibition & Silent auction fundraiser for hungry students. Saturday Sept. 28th,2019 On the 2nd Floor of Drescher Hall at 1900 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica Calif. (Randy Martinez/The Corsair)

As dark clouds and a light rain masked the setting sun over Drescher Hall, a warm light from the building invited guests inside. Upon entering the second floor, voices of reunited alumni, colleagues, and students buzzed in the foyer of the Santa Monica College (SMC) Photography Gallery.

The SMC Photography Department and SMC Foundation hosted the opening reception of the Alumni Exhibition Silent Auction on Saturday, Sept. 28. The exhibition, running from Sept. 29 through Oct. 25, comprises selected submissions of graduated alumni. 

Before entering the gallery, a large glass window reveals the four works that preview the rest of the film, digital, and mixed media photographs inside. One of the photographs that hung in the window was Gabriella Carpello’s black and white nude titled “Self portrait (from series).”

“When I was [at] SMC, I was doing a lot of nudes distorting [the models] with really long legs, arms, torsos … really natural forms not being sexualized," said Carpello. "In this instance, I wanted to make a whole series with this dreamy soft lighting, kind of painting with light instead of flash."

The photographers behind each piece differed in their artistic processes and background experiences. 2012 SMC graduate Aldo-Rafael Cos is the photographer of “Splash Dancer,” a portrait of a dancer mid-pose entrenched in water and blue light. Currently a seventh-grade science teacher, Cos took a two-year hiatus to earn his photography degree at SMC and plans to retire from teaching to become a full-time photographer.

On the opposite wall, 2017 graduate Diana Parra Garcia’s “Untitled” depicted a small bird perched on a tree in Yosemite National Park. Parra works as an official photographer for multiple projects, including podcast PooseBoss and the Sierra Club Los Angeles Chapter.

Alumni photographers took time during the exhibition to reconnect over their experiences as students while they caught up with their old friends and professors.

“The professors in the photo department were super open and willing to talk to you after class or … just hang out as peers and talk about photography,” Carpello said. “I still feel close with a couple of the professors here… I can talk to them now as a professional and still feel like I have guidance, a connection, and support.”

Alumni exhibitions take place every other year, alternating with faculty exhibitions. Last year’s faculty exhibition was the first to be turned into a fundraiser, with its proceeds benefiting the photography department.

All proceeds raised from the silent auction will go towards SMC’s food security programs, including the Corsair Market, Free Lunch Voucher program (FLVR), and the Galley Program food closet. All three programs give students access to healthy food options by offering free produce, non-perishable goods, and food vouchers. The SMC Foundation is a large partner in program funding.

“We want to position our students in the best way to be successful," said Photography Department Chair Josh Sanseri. "If we can relieve a little pressure here, a little pressure there … hopefully they can get more out of school and be more successful in their careers. We’re just trying to help in every way that we can.”

The silent auction will remain open to bids until 5 p.m. on Oct. 25. For more information on the college’s food security programs, visit SMC’s website or the Student Resource Office on the main campus.