By Phillip Milano
When she entered a community-wide photography contest last year showcasing cell phone camera imagery, Jacksonville University sophomore and Honduran student Ninoska Alejandra Nunez said she was just trying to find some beauty in her new city.
She found it – and now has found her work in the permanent collection of the Main Library in downtown Jacksonville.
PHOTOJAX 2011 and The Art in Public Places Program administered by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville created the art project, with a theme of “River City, Sand and Sea.” The best 500 submitted images were chosen to be projected for 5 seconds each last fall onto the facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville at 333 N. Laura Street.
Now Nunez and the other entrants to the project, which included several more JU students, have been notified that their submissions were added to the kiosk of The Art in Public Places permanent display at the library.
Her untitled photo, which she’s taken to calling “The Beauty of Freedom,” features a ballet dancer near the St. Johns River, striking a pose as the sun sets behind her.
“Ninoska has become a real ambassador for JU’s Visual Arts,” said Ginger Sheridan, assistant professor of photography. “Coming from Honduras, she is very active with the international students, bringing them into many of her photographic shoots and activities, thus making them part of the college as well. Her photography, like her character, is very personal and positive.”
Other current or former JU students whose work was selected for the library’s permanent collection are Saluma Carroll, Sarah Eckman, Taylor Middleton, Argie Mitra, Dustin Mollohan, Samantha Nader, Dale Roberts, Reggie Taylor, Chelsea Thompson and Lauren Tidwell.
Nunez recently answered a few questions about her contest submission, JU and her plans:
How does it feel to have your photo in the permanent collection?
I am very happy and excited. It was very unexpected. I never thought my photograph would go that far, since it’s the first time I participated in a photography contest.
What were you trying to accomplish with the photo? How did you conceive it?
My goal was to submit a photograph that shows the beauty of the River City. I asked my friend Michelle Csapek, a dancer, to do some ballet jumps in front of the St. Johns River while the sun was setting. I was able to catch the light and my friend’s expression of freedom.
How has JU helped you learn the art of photography?
I started to get interested in photography my freshmen year, when I was working as an assistant for the Riparian, JU’s yearbook. There were not enough photographers, so Taryn Hannah, our adviser at the time, handed me an SLR camera to take pictures for the yearbook. This is when I discovered my talent. I decided to become a photography minor. Prof. Ginger Sheridan and the photography program here at JU have helped me increase my knowledge in photography. The professors and the one-on-one interaction with the students make the photography program unique.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation in 2014, I am planning on finding a job here in the U.S. and start my master’s degree in advertising design.