On Purpose: Portrait of the Liberal Arts
For 150 years countless faculty, students, staff, and alumni have made what is now the College of Liberal Arts. How can one, then, represent 150 years of hard work, struggle, inquiry, study, delivery of information, and service?
On Purpose: Portrait of the Liberal Arts shows only a fraction of time in the history of the College of Liberal Arts. More than portraits, these are documented encounters with remarkable people who are passionate about their roles as alumni, as students, as professors, and as staff. This collection highlights who we are right now; this is how we look, this is what we are interested in, this is our work, and this is how we present ourselves to the camera.
In today’s world, where communication through technology pushes for individualism and isolation, where we’re becoming less and less sensitive to the human condition, portraiture becomes increasingly important for preserving our humanity, culture, care, and love. I employ portraiture not just because we simply like to watch people’s faces; I take portraits to have personal contact with the subjects I photograph. Faces are malleable, persistently changing, continually transformed, constantly modified to portray emotion, sentiment, excitement, passion, or disdain. When we encounter a portrait, we dare to stare. We immediately interpret the moment the picture was taken and that person’s attitude. We try to have a conversation with the mute sitter.
I hope that throughout the years we will look back at these portraits, continuing the conversation with the people I was so grateful to meet.
It was to us, too. Tavera’s beautiful portraits are worth whatever time you can spend on them. There’s humor and wit, seriousness and playfulness, the dignity Coleman mentioned, and a shared sense of pride.