Springfield, Ohio — Educational opportunities abound in the Clark County area, and Wittenberg University encourages students to make the most of them. Ashley Carter, class of 2009 from Avon, Ind., did just that when she focused her senior art thesis project on residents of the Springfield Masonic Community.
An art major with a concentration in photography, Carter developed an exhibit of her photos, which will be on display at the Springfield Masonic Home campus during Ohio Masonic Home Day on Sunday, June 14, and in the Burkhart Auditorium on Tuesday, June 16.
"My father is a Mason in Indiana and with that came a degree of comfort with the home," Carter said. "I'm very happy with the location I chose for my project. The senior thesis capstone class for art majors requires a lot of planning, beginning toward the last part of your junior year. Over time it evolved and came to be what I will have on display at the Ohio Masonic Home."
As her idea took shape, Carter approached administrators at the Springfield Masonic Community campus and found them very welcoming and even excited about the idea. She then asked for referrals from employees to find who she could interview.
"They were great and very helpful," Carter said. "I was put in contact with potential subjects, and I asked if they would allow me to interview them. If they said yes, I would pay a visit to the home for perhaps lunch, a snack or just a time to hang out, and I could pick their brains."
Her photos include a diverse group of residents and may reflect former careers, show them working on hobbies or engaged in personal interests.
"The most difficult thing was not being able to photograph everyone," Carter said. "Everyone there has such interesting stories that I didn't want to have to decide not to use anyone. I loved talking to them and learning things from them – it was also difficult to leave them after the initial interviews."
The resulting body of work was part of the annual Senior Thesis Exhibition at Wittenberg, and the experience helped Carter grow in her art.
"It has changed the way I approach my work," she said. "It certainly taught me to be more outgoing and helped me to learn how to ask the right questions."
As she continues developing the skills to reach her goals as a professional photographer, she next plans to attend cosmetology school in either Louisville, Ky., or Columbus, Ohio.
"I would like to take the skills I have acquired while earning my art degree at Wittenberg and combine them with the ability to do hair and makeup…maybe work for a photographer, a magazine or newspaper," she said. "The possibilities are limitless, yet still rather intimidating."
Written By: Phyllis Eberts