Spring 2015, Issue III: Up Close / From Afar
A camera lens separates the photographer from the subject, but can also offer a closer look into a situation. Similarly, photographs allow for temporal distance by capturing a single instant that can be viewed and re-viewed, allowing for self-reflection as well as deeper understanding of the moment. Our current issue explores how the image has affected an understanding of another culture, whether in the act of taking the photograph or when returning to it later.
We invite you to submit a short essay for our next issue, Activism, in which we aim to highlight Smith College’s long history of involvement. We want to hear about your international experiences with social activism, whether as an American participating in activism abroad or as an international student experiencing activism in the United States. Submissions are being accepted until Friday, April 3. For more details, see our submission page.
Our plane was delayed two and a half hours in Shanghai, due to smog so thick we couldn’t see the airport from the plane window. We had originally planned to climb the mountain, but because of the delay, and then the fact that we missed our train from Xi’an to the mountain base and had to take a later one, we arrived at Huashan only an hour before dark.
The air grew brisk as we became surrounded by the sun sparkled snow caps of the Atlas Mountains themselves climbing the clear blue skies, and we decided to break at a cafe off the main road for a warm drink.
What can I find without a map? This was the question I was forced to ask myself this fall when I arrived in London to conduct research for my dissertation in art history and realized I had forgotten to pack a map.
I had been in Greece for five weeks, Athens for three. While arriving, I had seen the luminous and looming Lykavittos Hill towering in the distance. I knew there was a path to the top and I imagined a wonderful view, but I had yet to venture towards it.
Walking on the streets of Paris with a camera changed everything. I was now more attentive to events that unfolded like a play at the theatre: a man crouching in the metro corner with an empty bottle, a woman with sad eyes leaning against the window, or a husband carrying flowers on his lap, either for his wife or mistress.
In the summer of 2010, after my sophomore year abroad at the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, I was chosen to participate in a leadership and service trip for two months in South Africa and Botswana. From the beginning, my peers and I knew that this would not be an easy experience.
Taking a picture is a vulnerable position to put yourself in. Your focus is completely taken away, your eyes are behind a lens, your arms are lifted. You are surrendering to the angle, to the light, to the subject, to whatever happens to you while you take this picture. I think of that while I look at things here, in Buenos Aires.
In the spring of 1917, Bessie Boies Cotton ’03, as a representative of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), was invited by the Provisional Government of Russia, which had replaced the tsarist government in February, to “establish clubs for working girls” and teach them how use the civil rights they had recently gained.