Art and Design Dept. Hosts Student Exhibition

Alum’s undergraduate service photos capture Senegalese lifestyle

Megan McCarthy, Contributing Writer

The theme of this year’s Founders Week is “Called to Action.” Echoing the teachings of our founder, St. Vincent De Paul, having charity in our hearts and words means nothing if it’s not put into action. Throughout this week, students and faculty are called to reflect on the missions and values that St. John’s University holds so dearly and take action in their own unique ways.

So, what are some of the ways that the St. John’s University student body utilizes their gifts to take action? The student art exhibition on display on the fourth floor of St. Augustine Hall showcases one particular alumnus, Alexander Arpag and his incredible photographs taken throughout his undergraduate years here at SJU.

The majority of Arpag’s displayed work took place during a service trip to Senegal. His photographs focus on the people he encountered during this trip and the raw beauty they each convey despite unfortunate circumstances taking place in their lives.

Belenna Lauto, professor of photography and Chairperson for the Department of Art and Design at St. John’s University organized this exhibition to showcase how powerful photography can be.  

“I believe the lens can spark contemplation and inspire those who view the photographs to see humanity as God intended,” Professor Lauto said. As a photography professor for 32 years, Professor Lauto’s passion for this art cannot be denied.

Lauto’s words are reflected strongly within Arpag’s work on display in this exhibition. Just like St. Vincent De Paul, Arpag, Professor Lauto and all other students and faculty members, we each have the power to take action in the best ways we know how. This exhibition reminds us just how simple and impactful the combination of exercising one’s passions and serving humanity can be.

She said, “as a photography professor, I hope to inspire my students ‘to action’, to use their camera as a voice for the voiceless, or to inspire the world to work towards goodness.”