Eye Contact: The Value of Conversation

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By Jennifer Chavez

Staff Writer

A reception was held in the SAL Gallery to showcase Pauline Senemetis’ MA thesis titled “Eye Contact” on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Senemetis is a graduate student obtaining her MA in art photography in the fall 2019 semester.

The photos lined along the walls captured the moments of a conversation with people who are special to Senemetis. The top portion of each person’s face wasn’t pictured, a strategy she purposefully designed. “I found that I responded more and more to the images that were not complete and went on to shoot with less restrictions,” Senemetis said.

The overall theme focused on the intimacy of a conversation in the absence of electronics and technology. “[It’s] breaking bread across the table with people that are important to you in your life and not having phones or anything that will interrupt your conversation,” Senemetis said. “That doesn’t happen too often anymore. Those meals are the ones where you have the best conservations, and they happen few and far between.”

Sememetis’ intention was noticed by a few others who attended the reception as well, including Florence Kadri, a coworker of Senemetis. “The part where we’re not seeing the full head or the eyes, it doesn’t take away, it actually pulls you in more,” Kadri said. “You feel the intimacy of the moment. You feel like you’re there on the table.”

Jodi Bernstein, a friend of Senemetis, agreed with Kadri. “Just the fact that people are communicating face to face without electronics. [It feels] very warm and intimate.”

Bernstein found particular joy in the piece depicting Sebenetis’s mother. “The one of her mom [is my favorite]. I think that speaks the loudest as far as people communicating with each other,” she said.

Kadri, on the other hand, found a favorite in another piece. “I love the colors and the hands of photo number four. [It’s] so in the moment, the cup, the shirt, it’s just a beautiful composition,” Kadri said.

The composition of each piece varies from one photo to the other, but the underlying message remains the same: it’s important to value the conversations one has with another person without the pressure and presence of technology.

“In this time of fast food, drive-throughs, over scheduled agendas and cell phone notifications, I find sitting around a table breaking bread with friends and family in the absence of electronic devices is where real connections are made, problems are solved, deep discussions are had, worries are settled, ideas are exchanged, deep belly laughs prevail, and healing of the soul occurs,” Senemetis said.

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