Pittsburg State University Students Audry Elmore and Louise Duchange have worked to create a series of photographs and quotes to portray the ‘Diversity of Happiness’.
Viewing of the series took place April 15 through April 19 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts in the gallery.
“I wanted to portray women of any race, class, and sexual orientation in a happy light being themselves,” said Audry Elmore, freshman in communication. “I believe that women have been put on an unrealistic standard to be a certain way or present themselves as being happy when some of us aren’t being true to ourselves.”
A reception took place at the Bicknell Center, Friday, April 19 from 2-4 p.m. Food and refreshments were provided for those in attendance.
“I think the pictures are great,” said Louise Duchange, senior in English. “I hope it will inspire other women to do what they really want to do without caring about what the society thinks.”
The set of pictures and interviews were meant to inspire women to be happy without standards. When choosing the women to be included, the two students chose women of different ethnicities and jobs.
“My favorite part of the gallery was the picture of Jordan Janiak, the Alpha Gamma Delta president,” said Haley Wood, freshman in nursing and member of Alpha Gamma Delta. “I take such high pride in our organization and everything that we do, and Jordan looked timeless in her picture and had the perfect words to say about women. I think these pictures and quotes can help to empower women by showing that we all may all be different in our own ways but being a woman brings us all together to form a unity.”
The Museum of Art at PSU strives to be an environment conducive to growth and the development of risk taking, problem solving, and critical thinking skills, while highlighting multiple perspectives that affect all ages.
“Our gallery is about pictures of women in their environment to show the audience what makes them happy,” Duchange said. “Audry got the idea of women’s happiness, and as I wanted to do a project with pictures, (so) I just joined her.”
The pair of students began working on this series a few months ago for their Intro to Women’s Studies Class with professor Allison Blevins. They were inspired by a documentary depicting a variety of women in photographs with room to portray themselves in any way they wished.
“I want everyone who comes into the gallery to feel free and inspired to be themselves no matter their gender,” Elmore said. “Everyone deserves happiness and there should be no limitation to their joy. They can do anything they want to without disapproval and still be loved.”
Elmore chose participants by looking through the faculty database for women who had been in their profession for an extensive period of time. Elmore also chose a few participants on the spot if they looked joyful.
“One life-changing and eye-opening problem I ran into was the inability to find black women working on our campus,” Elmore said. “Wanting more African American representation, I asked a sorority sister, one of the employees from Pitt State, and a Residence Assistant to represent black women in my project because their happiness is equally important.”
Elmore said she was inspired by all of the influential, powerful women in her life expressing themselves in a free environment. With her multimedia journalism/ photojournalism emphasis, the idea of a photography option intrigued her.
“The set of pictures and quotes were very inspiring to just look at and read, all of the women that Audry photographed were so different and empowering,” said Anna Stephens, freshman in biology pre-med. “It was easy to see that they were proud of what they accomplished and what Audry was able to do with just the pictures of those empowering women. I’m so proud of what she did with the gallery!”
Elmore reported that the project took around 36 hours and $542 to complete. After all of the time and money put into the series, Elmore says it was rewarding to see the finished product.
“So many of the women I interviewed told me they had never thought about what makes them truly happy and being asked helped them to appreciate their lives and how hard they’ve worked to be where they are right now,” Elmore said. “Not only did they tell me they felt special for being chosen, but they told me they love being a woman even more than before my project.”