There’s a photograph hanging in the Washington, DC office of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo which is the centerpiece of his personal art collection. The picture is of an OCC student who was photographed by fellow students. “The feeling of knowing that photograph is there is unreal,” said Ben Coupe. “While shooting this project we had no idea how far it would go.”
The inspiration for the photography project was “God Grew Tired of Us,” a memoir written by John Dau, ’05 which was OCC’s common read during the 2017-18 academic year. The book chronicled Dau’s journey from the brutal war horrors of life in the Sudan to life in the United States. “We wanted to celebrate diversity. We wanted to capture and highlight our community here.”
Coupe and classmates Jennifer Bazdaric and Dah Lehr imagined a canvas of multiculturalism, rich in texture, promoting an aware culture of respect, thoughtfulness and dignity. “We spent more time planning our shoots than actually shooting. Once we got going it took us less than a week to find our subjects and shoot the photos,” said Coupe. “We needed a couple of days for edits and a day or two to select the print, paper and frame.
The series of 20 images proudly displayed the cultural heritage found within the OCC campus during the fall 2017 campus. It was entered into a SUNY campus where it was spotted by Governor Cuomo. The central image of the series now hangs in Washington, DC.
The students worked under the leadership of Assistant Professor Robert Kent who has dozens of years of professional commercial photography experience. The exhibition quality prints were created by the students under the careful and expert eye of Technical Specialist Rick Boyson of OCC’s Photography Department.