By Samantha Forunier
As the cheese plate emptied and white wine was poured, the Samuel T. Chen Art Gallery grew full for the bubbly Katia Porter’s exhibit, “Second Shift.” A collection of Porter’s photographs of the CCSU Police Department are on display until Sept.10 from Monday to Friday 1 to 4 p.m.
A ten-shot photo series was assigned to Porter, who is from Manchester, England, for a photography course she took in Spring ’09.
“I approached the campus police to take their photos, and it kind of spiraled from there,” Porter said of her project. She ended up with 300 photos capturing most of her work from three in the afternoon to eleven at night three nights a week, last April.
“We don’t have a police department like this,” Porter said of Manchester, and added, “when I arrived here in January it was a bit odd [because] there are no armed police officers in England.” This stimulated Porter’s curiosity and led her to make this the focus of her project.
Robert Diamond, curator of the gallery, is happy to have Porter’s exhibit in the gallery. “It’s great to have it open from the start of school so students don’t see a closed door,” he said. Diamond said he finds Porter’s “documentary approach” unique.
Chief of Police Jason Powell was also happy about the exhibit. “It’s good for the officers. They’ve worked very hard to build up a good relationship with the students and the faculty and this captures it,” he said.
Stephanie Seaburg, solo communications dispatcher, believes “it shows what we really do, we are out in the community policing, as well as [providing] customer service.”
Officer Jerry Erwin acknowledged that the people and events pictured are only part of what happens at the CCSU Police Department. “[There are] 23 members of the department, so it’s not just the people pictured, it’s a group effort.”
Students, faculty, friends and officers moved throughout the room admiring the visually dynamic compilation of photos. Art professor Rachel Siporin agreed with Diamond that there was a cinematic feel to the work.
Siporin was captivated by the flat shapes created by the dark uniforms and the contrast of modeled forms created by the officer’s skin. Dramatic framing and cropping also caught Siporin’s attention.
The project grabbed Porter’s attention because “to watch the watchers, there is an added layer of voyeurism.” As gallery-goers moved through the room glancing from one photograph to the next, they seemed to pick up on this as well.