Photography has always been an interesting concept for me. When I was little I used to love getting my picture taken. I was in beauty pageants, had a couple modeling shoots and would love to dress up for school dances and prom to get my picture taken. I always thought it was interesting how the subject (normally me) looked the way it did. Not saying I always looked perfect in the outcome of the pictures, but as I grew older and had to take some photography classes I learned more about what goes into getting the perfect shot. The lighting, atmosphere, shutter speed, angels, etc all really play a big role into the picture. But sometimes a photographer can capture an amazing picture without doing all the extra moves to get that perfect picture, sometimes the unplanned picture comes out the best.
For this photography assignment I have realized that some of my best pictures are the ones I didn’t follow the instructions in the book and kind of free-balled. I tend to always put my own twist on my assignments and I realized that when I looked back at all my pictures. They all have different aspects that make them stand out.
As I took a lot of trips to Long Beach Island this semester, I realized the true beauty of the beach. As summer was leaving and the fall was coming, the camera captured different feels when I looked back at the pictures. The beach was no longer crowded, the dunes were just swaying in the wind and the colors are not very vibrant like they are on a summer day. The atmosphere is a very big part of taking a picture. The people around or the landscape in the picture really changes based on what season it is.
One of my favorite pictures is one I took when walking up to the beach and seeing the ocean.
A mid November day on the beach would ideally look like this. I think the white and blue colors of the sky and the light tan of the sand and color of the dunes represent the fall. This picture compared to a picture of the beach on a summer day in mid July would be totally different. Not only no one on the beach compared to a crowd but the overall color tones would change.
The field notes I took while at James’ office was quite unique. While he was showing me around, not only was I intrigued on what he was showing me but I made sure that I took in everything I was observing around me. Something that sparked my interest was the beautiful colors of all the leaves changing right outside the window. Since I was in an historic building that is currently being used as a art studio, this seemed like a perfect fit. The sun was shining, skies were blue, the sun beamed off the water and the trees were all different colors. My definition of a perfect fall day.
Another aspect I took a lot of field notes on was the actual building. When I pulled up to the address James emailed me, I was in awe. It was located in a cul de sack, the only building on the street. The building has been there since the 50’s and the Mural Artists have only been allowed to work in the building since June 2017. When I walked in, the doors, wooden floors, windows were all extremely old- not in a bad way, but gave the building a very cool historic look. Definitely provided a lot of character to the overall look! When I first walked in, James gave me a tour. He stated that nothing has been touched in a very very long time. The kitchen and bathrooms looked like I stepped into a time machine and went back 100 years. When I walked into the kitchen, the item that caught my attention was the stove. The stove was something out of a renaissance catalog! Also, the bathtubs in the bathrooms were also something I would picture in the olden times and the ceilings were extremely low!
I have yet had time to make it to the actual ground where Sanctuary is held. But I would like to take field notes of the property and the people passing, along with the people in the restaurant which the mural flows into. I want to engage people to see if they even notice this amazing artwork outside the building and their thoughts on it.
On October 26th, my interview with James Burns finally happened. After weeks of emailing and getting excited to learn more about his murals in Philadelphia I was able to speak to him in person. I was super excited to learn more about him, his love for art and the background story of his murals. Before, interviewing him I decided to focus on his one mural that is painted on the Restaurant building, Maison 208 in Center City, PA.
I met James, at his office which is located in an old historical building in Fairmount Park. The building was built during the 1920’s and Fairmount Park is letting them use this space for about 2 years. The building is very old but over looks the Schuylkill River, which all the leaves were changing at this time so it was extremely beautiful. James and another artist moved in their supplies in June of this year and it has been an amazing space to create their art projects.
James, showed me around the entire building and explained where he would come up with his ideas, draw it out, mix the colors, etc. It was awesome to see the behind the scenes of how his murals are created and the process that goes into each. This is a picture of his “paint room” where he would mix colors together to get the perfect color for each subject in his mural.
When we started the interview, it was very conversational and he provided me with a lot of insight with the background of the mural “Sanctuary”. He informed me that it represents Mental Wellness and the circle is to represent the cycle of life and how you have to keep fighting no matter what. I was overall pleased with the outcome of the interview and my decision of picking this topic for my semester long project.
A woman who works in the dining hall was walking out of Campion and I noticed her hair. Her hair was a light bleach blonde color and it was cut very short like a crew cut type of style. She was wearing a black hair net over her hair but it did not cover her entire head. Little pieces of her hair were not completely in the hair net and came out the side causing her hair to look a little messy. The front of her head had some hair also coming out of the hair net. Some of her hair was covering her forehead, making it look like she had bangs but she didn’t. I could also tell that her hair was not naturally blonde because she had dark roots that were coming in on the top of her head. Her hair looked greasy because it was shiny at the top (not in a good way). Her hair also appeared to feel rough and not silky smooth like it was freshly cleaned. When I walked closer to her and tried to smell her, she smelt like the food that is served in the dining hall. I smelt a variety of scents, so I am unsure what her hair exactly smelled like. She was also sweating from working in the kitchen so her side burns were all wet.
The first scene that stuck out to me when looking back at my field notes are when I was observing the couches in the Campion Student Center. There are 7 couches, four green and three red. What stuck out to me the most was the male sleeping on one of the green couches. He had his beat headphones in, feet up and fast asleep in the middle of a social area where students were passing by. Even though it wasn’t Campion’s busiest hour, people still passed, talking to each other or having a conversation on the phone. I noticed the sound of squeaks on the tile floor and the sound of flips flops as students walked up the stairs. As I was observing a girl passed, talking on the phone and appeared to be having a conversation with her mom. You could tell the girl was getting upset based on the tone of her voice and her saying into the phone “I want to go home mom, I don’t want to stay here this weekend”. This reminded me of myself around this time of year when I was a freshman.
The second scene took place on the second floor, “new side” of the Library. I sat at a table by myself and observed a table of four girls working on school work. I noticed two of the girls were in a sorority. The blonde hair girl had on a pink hat with “Alpha Phi” greek letters stitched on it and the other had a white sticker on her computer case that had Alpha Phi in white written in cursive. They were having a conversation regarding their plans later that Thursday night. The other 2 girls had their white headphones in their ears and doing homework. The brown hair girl sitting on the far left was highlighting her textbook with a yellow highlighter while the girl across with her was on the computer reading an article.
The place where I took most of my observations were when I sat on the floor outside of camion. I sat right by the PNC ATM machine. Being so low to the floor I noticed how shiny the tile floor was and the squeaks students shoes would make while they walked by. Students were either on their phone, holding coffee or talking to a friend when they passed. I could smell the coffee they were holding and the smell of pizza coming from the dining hall just a couple feet away from where I was sitting. The light inside of the student center, especially in the hall way is very bright. It is not dull or dark inside at all. The windows inside the dining hall were also open, brightening up the whole room. When I looked on the walls I also noticed signs that encourage students to sign up for activities on campus. It was not too cold nor too hot where I was sitting. It was only 10:30 in the morning, so no student was in a rush to get somewhere when leaving campion and walking by me. Students tended to walk at a reasonable pace. As I was sitting, students and workers looked confused as to why I was sitting on the floor with a tiny notebook and looking at them. One worker who was walking out of the POD even said to me “comfy seat?” and giggled. Many students were wearing SJU apparel this day as well.
This semester I am interested in working with Mural Arts Philadelphia. Since this is my fourth and final year at Saint Joseph’s University, I think it is interesting to learn more about the Murals that are all around the Philadelphia area. When I was thinking of a topic for my assignment, I thought this was awesome to do because I have always wondered meanings behind some of the murals I have seen. These murals are not your ordinary street graffiti. These murals bring life to the City of Brotherly love and give it a different feel than most cities I have been too.
After looking at muralarts.org, I fell in love with all the beautiful murals that people have created. Two murals that intrigued my interest the most were painted by James Burns.
“The Renaissance” located in Fishtown/ Kensington
“Sanctuary” located in Center City
I contacted James Burns and he appreciated my interest in his art.
I believe that paintings/murals have a deeper meaning than what the physical eye sees. Just like a photograph, you never know the meaning behind it or how that person truly feels. I want to dig deeper into these 2 specific paintings and the naming and reason he made them how they are.
I would also love to talk to someone at the Mural Art’s Philadelphia Exhibition. I think it is cool they created a place for people to show off their artwork and how it got started.
I don’t see myself losing interest in this topic and I believe that I can create something truly amazing by looking into deeper material behind these murals and talking to James.
While looking through some of my favorite pictures, I realized that all of them involve my family, friends or my overly cute, dog Kona. All three subjects are very important to me and make me stride to be the best person I could be. Even though, I adore my friends and family, I have a weak spot for my Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier! She is absolutely adorable and can put a smile on my face no matter what mood I am in. I noticed that throughout all the thousands of pictures I have on my phone and computer, the ones of Kona truly show something special. Since she is a dog she doesn’t always look at the camera, or has a habit of moving as soon as the camera flash goes off. When we go on walks and stop to take a picture of the lake, I never forget to take a picture of the both of us. Who said a dog can’t be a woman’s best friend? She is the best 4 legged friend I could of ever asked for and I am so happy I have had the ability to capture some amazing pictures that turned into memories with her.
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