In the spring of 2015, the Center for the Arts and Humanities at Colby sponsored a photography contest on the subject of migrations. All Colby students were encouraged to submit photos of their making to this open contest. A panel of judges, made up of Colby faculty and students, were looking for photographs that reflected on an understanding of migrations as shaping the self and the world. The winning images offered unique perspectives on how migrations can be visualized, literally or imaginatively.
First prize was awarded to Sara Kaplan ’16 for her photograph, Untitled (Jett), 2015.
Sara wrote of her photograph: This photo was taken on a ferry from Sweden to Denmark in February of 2015 while I was spending a semester studying abroad in Copenhagen. Jett, the man in the picture, was someone who quickly caught my eye aboard the deck. He was leaning over the rails looking pensively into the water with such a sincere yet desolate expression on his face. After getting permission to take his photograph, we talked for a bit and I learned the Jett was originally from Edinburgh, Scotland. After retiring he moved to a rural village in Sweden but often takes the ferry to visit his son in Denmark. He constantly travels around Europe, migrating from place to place, from friend to friend, and family member to family member. He told me that it helps fill the void of loneliness that he’s felt ever since his wife passed away.
Second prize was awarded to Cara Goldfarb ’16 for her photograph, Faith at the Wailing Wall, 2014.
Cara wrote: In Judaism, the Wailing Wall is the holiest site for prayer. Jews from around the world make a pilgrimage to this site, found in the Old City of Jerusalem, in order to connect with God and to place a prayer into the cracks of the wall. When I took this image I was captivated by the symmetry of the two women and their headdresses, as well as by the vertical crack in the wall that clearly divided their personal spaces. Together, these elements paint two very different yet connected images of migration. I do not know if the two women knew each other, how faith has shaped their personal identities, or whether they traveled great distances to come to the wall. However, it is clear by their positioning that faith has played an important role in their lives, allowing their stories to become intertwined in the greater, evolving narrative of the Jewish people.
Finally, third prize was awarded to Stefan Kohli ’18 for his photograph, Catharsis, 2015.
Stefan wrote: This photo was taken in Varanasi, India, on the Ganges River, the most sacred river to Hindus and one of the most significant rivers in the world due to its cultural and physical representation. Culturally, the river represents the goddess Ganga, the liberation from life and death, and the ashes of loved ones are sent downstream to pass souls to the afterlife. I took the photo during sunrise, when I saw the boat in its isolation on the river with a large plume of smoke trailing it. Ganga is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, yet it serves as a lifeline and spiritual anchor for millions of Indians. For a living man to be floating on the Ganges symbolizes a spiritual awakening and cleansing, a passage and migration such as the one from this life to the next. The smoke trailing the boat complements his migration as an addition to the already polluted river, as the man leaves his trail to be forever preserved in the holy river.
Congratulations to the winners! Many thanks go to all of the students who submitted their work to the contest, to the contest judges, and to the Center for the Arts and Humanities for its support.