SMC's Emeritus College Hosts New Photo Exhibit

 Many young souls darted around SMC's Emeritus College gallery Thursday night, taking in the art with cameras poised and ready to capture their peers at shining moments.

SMC's Emeritus College hosts classes for students who are young at heart but older in age and offers courses in everything from auto repair to photography. The college educates more than 3,000 students every year and offers 160 free classes to the seniors.

"Tools for Transformation," the student-juried exhibition at the Emeritus Gallery, opened at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25. Nineteen students from photography classes at the college displayed their work proudly and a few were awarded for their exceptional work.

Three students were awarded first, second and third place for their photographs on display in the show. Those awarded were Cheryl Beychok, Lorraine Ginsburg and Virgina Baldioli, respectively.

The gallery was full of a variety of photo subjects. From bright images of flowers and plants to documentation of architectural monuments across the globe, the show had something for everyone.

Although a fear of being rejected or criticized can hang over the head of many artists, these photographers came out of their shell with the help of their peers and professors, unveiling their work in a welcoming environment.

"There has been a really strong connection between the faculty and the students," said curator of the gallery, Lynn LaBate.

For many it was exciting to finally be able to express themselves creatively, even if they had to wait almost their whole lives to do it.

"I'm really encouraged. Now starting this whole visual journey, it feels like a sign from the universe. Even though I don't know what I'm doing, I'm going in the right direction," said student Cheryl Beychok, who won second place for her photo "Descarga."

Although younger art students may have the same amount of talent, passion and confidence that the Emeritus students have, one factor that was crucial for making the seniors' so extraordinary was life experience.

"The first time I was in Paris, I shot this," said Ginsburg about her award-winning piece, "The Eiffel Tower, Paris France," a black and white photo taken in 1985.

"I had just taken classes at Santa Monica at the time and was shooting everything I saw," said Ginsburg. "I'm really excited to show these because they are very meaningful to me."

"Tools for Transformation" will be on display at the Emeritus College Gallery from Feb. 25 to March 26 and is free and open to the public.