William Harris Gallery is pleased to present First Comes Trust, a collaborative display by thirteen senior photojournalism students. This exhibition is the capstone event of their study in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. It celebrates the completion of a year-long documentary project that is judged in accordance with the highest photojournalistic standards.

The students selected the exhibit title, which is derived from a quote by Michel du Cille, a photojournalist for the Washington Post and a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. In 1987, Mr. du Cille spent months photographing life inside a Miami crack house. When the editor on the project asked how the shoots were going, du Cille responded, “No pictures yet. I haven’t taken my camera. First comes trust, then the work.” Mr. du Cille died suddenly in December 2014 while chronicling the plight of Ebola patients and the people who cared for them in Liberia. This quote represents a central theme in documentary work, the necessity of establishing the level of mutual understanding with a subject that ultimately leads to visual candor.

In First Comes Trust, the thirteen graduating photojournalism students demonstrate the affirmative power of visual documentary storytelling to speak boldly and constructively about our world today. The projects explore a range of subjects: a wounded veteran living on a farm near Buffalo, the impact of alcoholism on housing insecurity, gender identity, the skateboarding sub culture, a woman who has built a family through her community, suicide in Lithuania, a refugee family living in Rochester, teen parenthood, a young woman’s self-exploration to better understand herself, a tight-knit community of Malaysian biotech students at RIT, the role of Christian hip-hop in youth culture, the life of a pre-teen girl overcoming challenges, and country music culture at Nashvilles bar. The work is featured through a number of different mediums, including several multimedia pieces spanning across video and interactive website displays as well as books and prints.

The exhibiting visual artists are: Donny Bajohr, Heather Casey, Zack DeClerck, Kyle Hofsass, Alyssa Hunter, Sarah Ann Jump, Rugile Kaladyte, Maureen MacGregor, Evan Ortiz, Kelly Jo Smart, Elijah Walker, Niki Walker and Dan Witkowski.

First Comes Trust is the first photojournalism capstone exhibition to be presented in the newly renovated William Harris Gallery, formerly known as the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (SPAS) Gallery. William Harris, a 1949 alumnus of the Graphic Arts and Photography Program, made this renovation possible due to a generous bequest. This is the first renovation to the Gallery in more 
than 30 years, and includes additional display space, innovative installation features and an exhibition preparation area in order to meet the demands of new practices in the photographic arts and sciences. The Gallery is proud to have the photojournalism seniors showcase their capstone work in this new exhibition space.

William Snyder, Loret Steinberg, Meredith Davenport, Jenn Poggi

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