A petite woman walked through the Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery and all of a sudden came to a stop. Her brunette hair shifted to the side as she observed a photo of a couple looking at art.
“I like how the figures are interacting,” Juliette Angulo, a 5th year photography major at California State University, Long Beach, said. “One of them is walking away, but it feels loving because they’re holding hands.
The work was of McKenzie Stribich, a sixth-year photography major at CSULB. Her exhibit showcases a series of digital photography that aims to make viewers feel as if they are doing just that.
Stribich’s exhibit, titled “Directed Gaze,” features candid moments of people strolling through art galleries – much like the one in which her own work is showcased – looking at art.
“Art and voyeurism comes to mind,” Cruz Valdez, a senior CSULB BFA photography student, said as he analyzed a photo of a young male slouching with a muddled expression on his face. “I like this photo because it illustrates a constructive image of how men view fine arts in this institution—they don’t know how to interact with it.”
With her subjects’ backs turned toward the camera, the back of their heads become the focal point of the photo. Some photos take it a step farther, featuring people who are looking at a painting of a person; meanwhile, the person in the painting appears to be looking straight at the camera.
Stribich called this effect, “a sort of triangulation.”
Although she actually took these photos about two years ago, she decided she wanted to use them for her BFA Senior Solo Show because she felt like, “they needed to be shown.”
“They speak a lot to how we see art, how we look at art,” she said. “The wider audience hadn’t really seen them—just photo majors and photo professors.”
The photos were taken over a series of months at different museums including The Getty, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Latin American Art.
Stribich wields a Canon EOS 5 D Mark II, working with a digital medium dependent upon high quality shots.
However, capturing these shots was not always easy for Stribich who has endured a lifetime of cerebral palsy. She uses forearm crutches to walk and has done so since she first learned at three years old.
Having a movement-debilitating disorder has posed challenges for Stribich’s photography, especially when it comes to carrying large pieces or camera equipment.
“For my art, it’s challenging because I often have to find others to assist me in carrying things,” Stribich said. “I couldn’t carry any of the pieces in my show myself; I had to have lots of help.”
When she’s out taking photos, even her camera bag that she slings over her shoulder gets heavy after awhile.
“It’s worth it though, ” she said.
Despite the difficulties, Stribich said that she has never let cerebral palsy stop her from pursuing being an artist.
“[Viewing art] is discussed somewhat, but it’s mostly theories and there’s rarely art about that,” Krista Feld, Twenty-five-year-old CSULB BFA alumna, said. “These are really pertinent moments that are really beautifully captured.”
Feld called Stribich’s exhibit “riveting” and said she was glad she paid a visit.
“I dressed up as an artist for career day in kindergarten,” Stribich said. “It’s kind of been my whole life.”
Stribich’s BFA Senior Solo Show will be on display until Thursdays at 5 p.m.