With the click of a camera shutter, a West Virginia University graduate student strengthened the connection with her classmates and turned a normal, everyday task into an art project.

Earlier this month, Arathy Gowda, a landscape architecture student in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, organized a photobooth party for students, faculty and staff in her program.

The event was born out of a desire to foster relationships and communication – academically, socially and culturally – in a non-academic, fun environment.

“Design students undergo tremendous stress emotionally,” Gowda said. “We are constantly challenged to think out of the box, be creative and receive constructive criticism which can take its toll. What better way to combat the stress than with a ‘picker upper’ party?”

Party-goers were encouraged to get decked out in a variety of props like wigs and oversized plastic glasses, then step into the photobooth for a snap shot.

“The party was about putting names to faces and building strong relationships in the landscape architecture program,” she said. “This was a fun way to accomplish that and also provide photographic mementos.”

The event also served as a launching pad for a project near and dear to Gowda’s heart.

A fine art photography project she named “Bring a Tooth Brush,” Gowda wants to capture diverse groups of people around the WVU campus and Morgantown community performing routine tasks.

“Taking group pictures while pretending to brush our teeth is a symbolic gesture of opening up our personal space in a public setting,” she said. “It’s a way to break our personal boundaries and realize we’re all similar. We all brush our teeth.”

While still in its infancy stage, Gowda sees the potential for the project to become a boundary-breaking movement.

For the time being, she’s going to relish the success of the initial photobooth party.

“I’m proud of the support I received from my professors and classmates while planning and executing the party,” she said. “I even met a freshman landscape architecture student with thirty years of work experience. I’m really looking forward to learning from his experiences. I hope others who attended learned something new about their peers as well.”

Gowda hopes to make the photobooth party a spring semester tradition for the Landscape Architecture program.



CONTACT: Lindsay Willey, Public Relations Specialist
304.293.2381, Lindsay.Willey@mail.wvu.edu

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