Tori Hemsath, '19, shares the story behind her photography pieces with her friends and family on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Girdler Gallery. Hemsath used a Strohl Undergraduate Research Grant through the department of art, architecture and design to fund her own exhibit. (Tiffany Truong/B&W Staff)

“Beyond the Building” exhibition created without financial boundaries

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Pointing her camera lens at the side of a seemingly typical New York City skyscraper, Tori Hemsath, ’19, was able to capture the beauty in its simplicity.

With the help of a Strohl Undergraduate Research Grant, Hemsath was able to bring her photographic eye for architecture to life in an exhibit titled “Beyond the Building.”

Hemsath’s final product was featured as an exhibit on Oct. 4 in the Girdler Gallery in the University Center.

At the end of last semester, Hemsath, a graphic design major, spent a few days in New York City taking photos for her exhibit — all expenses paid because of the grant award.

The gift is given by Dale S. Strohl, ’58, who received a degree in psychology and has given back to the university in several ways, including contributions to the Linderman Library renovation and STEPS facility. 

Every year, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Arts and Sciences gives the award to students in the social sciences and humanities who complete student-driven work under faculty supervision. Grants are as large as $3,000 and can be used to fund travel, research supplies or other research-related expenses.

“The objective of ‘Beyond the Building’ was to seek out compelling compositions in New York architecture that passerbys might normally miss,” Hemsath said. “Using this form of photography, I want to connect with the viewer in a new and captivating way by capturing cropped segments of unusual viewpoints.” 

Attendees of the exhibit included Hemsath’s family, friends, volleyball teammates and coaches.

“Personally, I love black and white and clean sharp images,” said Grace Coffman, ‘19, one of Hemsath’s classmates. “I feel like she captured New York in a different way because when I think of it I think of lights and nightlife.”

Hemsath’s faculty adviser, Anna Chupa, an art, architecture and design professor and department chair, told Hemsath about the Strohl Grant.

“Tori’s fantastic and so hard-working,” Chupa said. “You show her something and she takes off with it.”

Chupa is a member of the committee that selects Strohl Grant recipients.

Last fall, when Hemsath applied for the year-long grant, she had to write a proposal explaining her qualifications, her project idea and a potential budget. Chupa said Strohl Grants usually result in final exhibitions, papers or presentations.

When Hemsath originally proposed her idea, the committee questioned why she did not want to photograph buildings in Bethlehem.

“I had to explain the buildings in New York make for a lot better abstract shots,” Hemsath said.

Hemsath hopes to continue showing her work in galleries around Bethlehem, including the Banana Factory.

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