by William Burleigh ’19
Last Wednesday, Providence College held its ninth annual Celebration of Student Scholarship and Creativity. The event showcased the scholarly, creative, and service work that PC students have accomplished this year on campus, in the community, and around the world. Students from all class years, majors, and disciplines presented their independent studies and passion projects with poster boards and other media displays in the Slavin Center.
Maalik Mbatch ’18, a studio art major, showcased his photography project focused on digital imaging. The goal of Mbatch’s work, completed over the span of seven months, was to explore the psychological relationship between memory and childhood trauma. He showcased two photographs, from his larger presentation that was displayed in the Smith Center for the Arts earlier this semester.
His unique photos displayed basic scenes from his childhood, with a touch of intrigue. Mbatch utilized Photoshop to blur and distort the facial features of himself and his family members in the photos. This is meant to symbolize how memories of scenes can be distorted and changed depending on our emotional feelings towards the events.
Mbatch described how his project was cathartic for him because it allowed him to confront traumatic events from his childhood. He also stressed the importance of self-actualization as a senior approaching graduation, saying, “My project taught me how to address trauma and mental health in a healthy way. It also helped me to work with the events of my past, as opposed to allowing them to become suppressed. I feel it’s important as a college graduate to acknowledge what kind of person I was and what kind of person I’m going to be.”
Sophia Forneris ’18, another studio art major, presented her photography project confronting and examining the emotional effects of sexual assault. Forneris, who has been working on her project for two years, sought to use her photographs to represent the feelings of loneliness that women experience while dealing with the effects of sexual harassment and assault. Forneris displayed three black-and-white photographs—also part of a larger collection previously shown in the Smith Center—of women alone in intimate, yet isolated situations.
She paired these with a booklet containing a compilation of text messages that female PC students received from males looking to initiate sexual encounters. The texts, and other social media interactions, were all intended to be incredibly graphic and distasteful. Forneris collected these texts from girls around campus to highlight how disturbingly aggressive some males can be in daily online interactions.
Forneris hopes that her project can bring awareness to the ongoing issues of sexual harassment and assault and its effects on women. She said, “I feel like as a community, it is a subject we have discussed this year with the #MeToo Movement. But I want us as a community to understand that we have the duty to create functioning individuals that will succeed after college.”
Manya Glassman ’19, a film minor, presented her nine-minute short film entitled A Stay in Japan. Manya shot the short film in the spring of 2017, when she attended PC’s Maymester in Japan. A Stay in Japan tells the story of a shallow American model who travels to Japan and has an unexpectedly eye-opening experience.
Glassman sought to explore themes of values, enlightenment, and transformation with her work. She hopes that her short film can bring a higher level of insight and cultural awareness to Americans.
Glassman said, “I wanted this film to encapsulate how occupied we’ve become with our own lives and our own culture. We’ve been raised in our American way in our American culture. We always think we’re right. And we need a more global perspective. Living in America, I don’t think we try to explore other cultures as much as we should. With this film, I tried to show how sometimes we are so caught up in our own lives and culture that we don’t take the time to stop for a moment and appreciate other communities.”