International photo exchange wraps up its third year with ‘The Impossible’

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Monday, April 24th, 2023

Pennsylvania College of Art & Design has wrapped up its third year of an international photography exchange with The Impossible,  featuring the work of 11 PCA&D students. The exchange, with photography students from Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, gives PCA&D students  — and those from Zayed University — the chance to have a virtual, visual “conversation” with students from another culture. 

PCA&D-Zayed got its start in 2019, when Prof. Eric Weeks, Chair of PCA&D’s Photography & Video Department, met Yiannis Galanopoulos-Papavasileiou, a Zayed University professor, at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. A similar PCA&D exchange, with students at South Korea’s Kyungil University, had recently finished, and Weeks proposed starting up a blog exchange with students at Zayed University. “Yiannis loved the idea,” Weeks says, “but needed to seek approval from (his) University administration before we could commence. Our first post was February 2020.”

black and white photo of figure taken through wet glass.

Photo by Hannah Aust.


Since then, quarterly exchanges are created by giving the students prompts for themes that are “open-ended and somewhat abstract ideas,” Weeks says. “There is a lot of room for students’ interpretations, leading to many wonderful surprises.”

Among others, prompts have included The Decisive Picture, What’s Past is Prologue, Photography Is Magic, and The Secret Conversations of Objects.

The exchange, Weeks says, is open to Photography & Video majors and minors, Photography & Video Foundation students, and all students enrolled in a Photography & Video course. And it provides a valuable lesson even for viewers who are not photography students. 

Black and white nature photo

Photo by Rachel O’Brien.

“I believe it is important for students to gain experience by engaging with both their local community and cultures that are different from their own,” Weeks says. “Photography is such a ubiquitous method of communication, and even though there may be cultural differences, what students and the entire PCA&D community can see through the posts is that there are more similarities than differences.”

Hands reaching from behind to pull the cheese of a non-smiling woman.

Photo by Sabrina Worthington.

‘The Impossible’: and more

PCA&D students whose work appears in The Impossible include Hannah Aust ’24, PHV; Jenna Cervone ’24, PHV; Alex Eggleston ’23, PHV; Leona Hatch ’25, PHV; Olivia Koziel ’23, PHV; Rachel O’Brien ’23, PHV; Mark Shyshkovskyy ’23, PHV; Alexander Smith ’24, PHV; Jason Wagner ’24, PHV; Cameren White ’25, PHV; and Sabrina Worthington ’23, PHV. Check out all of their work here
Other editions of the PCA&D-Zayed Photography Exchange can be found at that same link. 
Top photo: Alexander Smith ’24, Photography & Video