Members of the Red Class of 2020, In Black and White

June 3, 2020

On the last day of in-person classes this semester, William Van Beckum, visiting lecturer in studio art, and some of his Introduction to Photography students joined Carrie Cushman, the Davis Museum’s Linda Wyatt Gruber ’66 Curatorial Fellow in Photography, in the Davis for an exhibition that she created for the spring. Entitled Making, Not Taking: Portrait Photography in the 19th Century and developed in conjunction with Going Viral: Photography, Performance, and the Everyday, the exhibition explores the vernacular photography of 19th-century portraiture. It includes a recreation of a 19th-century portrait studio complete with antique camera equipment and an original backdrop.

Cushman and Van Beckum spent the morning making portraits with the students, and that afternoon, when the seniors who worked at the Davis stopped in to say farewell to Cushman and the museum, they set up an impromptu portrait session with the seniors in their full graduation regalia.

Below are some of the resulting portraits, and some reflections from the subjects themselves about the session and their time at the Davis.

black and white photos of students
Kristen Elena Chang ’20 (left), Megan Ruppel ’20 (right)

Kristen Elena Chang ’20As a student visitors assistant since my first-year fall, I knew that saying goodbye to the Davis was always going to be difficult for me. It was all the more heartbreaking to leave so soon and so abruptly, but the Making, Not Taking portraits made me feel like I was leaving a little piece of me in the Davis forever.”

Megan Ruppel ’20“I slow down when I’m in the Davis. I feel calmer, more stable, more present. That’s what makes it such a special place for me. Without this opportunity, I would have left Wellesley without any senior portraits at all, so her making this happen meant a lot.”

black and white photos of students
Megan McNally ’20 (left) with a friend, Margarita Forbes ’20 (right)

Megan McNally ’20: “It was so thoughtful of the Davis staff to organize something special for our last day, especially on such short notice. As a senior, I really appreciated the opportunity to say goodbye and to celebrate all we’ve accomplished at the Davis.”

Margarita Forbes ’20“I have so much love and respect for my Wellesley community, and in particular, my Davis community.”

black and white photos of students
Sarah Airi Guise ’20 (left), Leafia Sheraden Cox ’20 with Sarah Stover ’20 (right)

Sarah Airi Guise ’20: “I hope that these photographs capture a bit of the creative and interactive ideas that students and faculty had together before we left campus. Moving forward, I want to continue thinking about art not only as a form of expression, but also as a product of intellect. It takes a lot of thought and effort to create something that presents meaning.”

Leafia Sheraden Cox ’20: “During the portraits we were all sitting and reminiscing about the year so far and discussing the closing of campus. It was intimate and peaceful. I really appreciated it. Sitting on the ground next to my friends and coworkers was one of the calmest moments in the days before everyone left.”

Sarah Stover ’20: “As a former Davis Museum guide, it was interesting to see how the style of 19th century portraiture was adapted for our own shoot.”