Emily Reifsnyder ’22 designs digital book for the PCA&D-Zayed University exchange and exhibition

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Friday, September 17th, 2021

A simple blog exchange of photos and ideas between PCA&D photographers and students in the United Arab Emirates has morphed into an ebook compiled and designed by Emily Reifsnyder ’22. The Photography & Video major recently completed PCA&D-Zayed Photography Exchange, a digital photo book that highlights the ongoing collaboration between Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and the College of Art and Creative Enterprise at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. The book is a companion to an online exhibition of the work (see below) created for the exchange and designed at Zayed University.

Each semester, two themes are presented and then interpreted by photography students of Prof. Eric Weeks at PCA&D and Dr. Ioannis Galanopoulos Papavasileiou at Zayed. “All of the images from the February 2020 exchange titled Things We Collect to the March 2021 exchange, The Constructed Image, are included in this book,” Reifsnyder says. Other themed exchanges included are The Landscape Within, The Hidden Stories of Objects, Place is Memory, and Landscape as Myth.

“Outside of portraiture work for clients I have not yet had a lot of experience in the ‘professional’ world of photography,” Reifsnyder adds, “so this was a great opportunity to participate as both a photographer and designer.”

To visit the online 3D exhibition, see bottom of story. Clicking on individual images will bring up the artist’s information. The interactive exhibition was designed by Zayed University Curatorial Studies and Visual Arts majors Sara Al Alremeithi ’22 and Hajer Al Hajeri ’22.

The exchange upon which the book is based traces its beginnings to a chance meeting Weeks had while visiting a colleague teaching in a graduate program in Australia. One of the Ph.D. students there was Galanopoulos Papavasileiou, and the two discussed the possibility of starting a collaborative blog: Weeks with student work from PCA&D, and Galanopoulos Papavasileiou from where he was teaching in Abu Dhabi. Half a dozen projects have been published on the blog, PCA&D-Zayed Photography Exchange, so far.

The book, meanwhile, got its start when Prof. Weeks approached Reifsnyder to ask if she’d be interested in undertaking a digital photo book for the blog exchange. Weeks says the project then became part of her job as she worked as his assistant while he taught two stacked classes at the same time — Camera-based Observation: Still & Motion Photography and Black and White Photography — while maintaining pandemic social distancing.

“Ioannis (Galanopoulos Papavasileiou, of Zayed University) and I came up with the ebook and online exhibition idea as a way to promote the students’ work made so far in our collaboration,” Weeks says.

Reifsnyder, for her part, was eager to take on the challenge. “I believe photo books are one of the best ways to view photography and love getting my hands on as many as possible,” she says, “so I was excited to design one myself using the work of multiple photographers.” Once she had all of the images, the link to the original blog, and some tips on where to start, Reifsnyder says, the work totally became her responsibility. “From there, I was able to design much of the book however I saw fit, emailing (Weeks) with progress updates and pdfs along the way to get feedback from him and others involved in the cultural exchange.”

And the work, she says, was a natural extension of a semester-long photo book assignment built into the advanced digital class Photography & Video students take in their junior year.”I had learned most of what I needed to know from this class or from my peers while working on my own personal photo book,” Reifsnyder says, “so creating this one came a lot easier than it might have otherwise. However, I was working with a lot more images from a much larger pool of artists this time around, and intended to create a more artistically minded layout for this one than the simple one I utilized for my own … I was able to figure out the best way to organize the images to best showcase each piece while also allowing for the arrangement to be a piece of its own accord.”

  • PCA&D students whose work is included in the book are Justin Carney ’20, Jenna Cervone ’24, Ashley Crist ’20, Woodrow Clapper ’22, Alex Conn ’20, Nicole Denzler ’21, Alex Eggleston ’23, Karim Gavins ’20, Emily Hornberger, Alexis Howe ’24, Olivia Koziel ’23, Adam Leitzel ’20, Brianna Linwood ’21, William Metzinger ’21, Olivia Montalvo ’20, Na’Chelle Morris ’22, Rachel O’Brien ’23, Emily Reifsnyder ’22, Kyra Shackelford ’20, Mark Shyshkovskyy ’23, Robin Starr ’20, Nicole Stoltzfus ’22, Austin Taylor ’24, Cheyenne Tobias ’22, Kennedy Toomey ’22, and Cameren White ’24.