New professor’s work reaches far and wide

Camryn Cutinello, Staff Writer

When you think of your professors, chances are you picture them in the classroom grading papers, not working on other projects. It might even shock some students to know about the work their professors do outside of school.

Jasmine Clark is new to Elgin Community College. Prior to her first day here teaching a digital photography course, she’d only ever been in Elgin twice.

Clark has worked on multiple projects outside of her teaching career, including one that allowed her photos to be displayed on a building in North Carolina.

“I always photographed as a kid, and when I went to undergrad, I was a science major, and I wanted to take photos for fun because I didn’t have art classes in high school,” Clark said. “So, I took a darkroom class, and I didn’t like my science classes, so I switched my major. I always had an eye for photography.”

Clark grew up on a military base town in California, which helped inspire her future projects.

“A lot of themes I look at have to do with the American political system and how it’s shown in places. So, thinking about how a military base affects the area around it and how themes of American patriotism actually play out, [like] the presence of the American flag, the way we sing the national anthem or the questions of what’s patriotic or not,” Clark said. “Thinking about all those things, those American symbols, the eagle — all of these things we learn about but [don’t] really explore, but we see them everywhere. It’s just present. Other countries aren’t like ours. It’s just ever-present, and no one really questions it.”

It was her project After Eisenhower that was displayed in North Carolina.

“The work is strong, well made, thoughtful and the subtlety in what can be a very hyperbolic subject,” said Juan Giraldo, a colleague and friend of Clark’s at Columbia College.

The display is in Wilson, North Carolina where there is a photo fest every year called Eyes on Main Street. The fest started after a photographer moved to the smaller town and wanted to bring more art to the town.

“They also do outreach, so throughout the week, Canon sponsors photo workshops for kids in the area,” Clark said. “We work with elementary school kids, and every day we take a group of them out to photograph. So, there’s an exhibition of all their work.”

Every year, someone from Columbia College gets chosen to have their work displayed in the fest. That year, Clark’s work was chosen. Twenty of her photographs from her After Eisenhower project were displayed on Main Street.

“It was kind of the first time I saw that much of my work out in the world,” Clark said.

A professor’s work outside of the classroom could be just as interesting, if not more, than the lesson plan for the day.

“Sharing their work could create stronger connections between students and teachers, and that will only help in the classroom,” said Allison Formeller, an ECC student. “Students being able to interact with teachers outside of the classroom, depending on their project, opens up a lot of opportunities for both parties; students get to learn more about their teachers as people, and teachers can potentially create more opportunities for students to learn.”

As for Clark, she’ll keep teaching for now, but she’s still looking for her next project. She also encourages people to get into photography.