First-Year Students Explore ‘Selfie’-Portraiture as Fine Art in the Digital Age

By Caitlin Burns | December 8, 2016

Can selfies show artistic expression? The “Fine Art in the Digital Age” exhibition in the Judith Taylor Gallery (Landman Library) explores this question through student-produced “self-portraitures” that combine classic self-portraits with modern selfies.

Running through Dec. 14, the exhibition is the culmination of “Selfie-Portraiture in the Digital Age,” a First-Year Seminar course that examines self-portraits, their influence on society, and how emerging technology has changed content and style.

“This student exhibition questions the definition of a selfie,” said Laura Baldwin, the course’s instructor and Arcadia’s chief marketing and communications officer. “Each piece challenges the circumstances, concepts, and format of a traditional selfie through artistic inspiration.”

As their final class project, which is reflected in the exhibition, students chose a self-portrait and were asked to create a self-reflective piece based on the images that inspired them. These final pieces of work became the basis for a student exhibition. Matt Borgen, exhibition coordinator for Arcadia, gave a guest lecture to the class that introduced the gallery space and inner workings of an exhibition. The class then worked in teams to learn the process of planning, curating, and marketing their exhibition.

“The amount of people who came out to show support was amazing,” said Hannah Faulkner ’20. “The Arcadia community and overall experience blew my expectations out of the water.”

Attendees were asked to interact with the exhibition through a “selfie wall,” with the best selfie earning a prize at the end of the night. In addition to members of the campus community attending opening night, the class made a conscious decision to have a live online presence for the show as well. The exhibition received hundreds of views on Arcadia’s Snapchat, which was taken over by the class.

“​We easily had the most unique First-Year Seminar wrap up,” said Katie Fleck ’20. “The fact that the rest of the Arcadia community was able to participate in it was a great reflection of the course as a whole.”