Middlebury

College dining staff featured in student's portrait exhibit [video]

April 8, 2009

Middlebury, Vt. -- The facial expressions in Angela Evancie's new photo exhibit range from placid to cheerful to anxious. The black and white portraits of Middlebury College Dining Service employees achieve much of what she had hoped for - a humanizing portrayal of a group of people who students often overlook in the daily rush of academic life. Her photos are on display at the college's 51 Main through Saturday, May 2.

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"The dining halls are social hubs," Evancie says, "where people gather and catch up with each other three times each day. It was important to me in this project that the staff be removed from the context in which we normally see them, in uniforms, doing a specific task that they do every day." She asked the staff to wear their street clothes and photographed them in front of a plain background. Approximately 20 staff members volunteered to be photographed for the project.

A senior majoring in geography and English, Evancie is well known on campus and throughout the community for her photography. The Weybridge, Vt., native has been a staff photographer for The Middlebury Campus and has contributed photos on assignment to area news publications including the Addison Independent and Seven Days.

Last fall Evancie applied for a space at the college's Old Stone Mill in town, where this spring she and about 35 other students are working on creative pursuits in an off-campus setting. Some are rehearsing theater and music projects while others are exploring new business ventures. Evancie shares a large bright room with a 4-member band, known as Mandroid, which practices in the evening when Evancie has finished her work.

In her corner of the work area, Evancie set up a makeshift portrait studio with a white muslin backdrop and low-tech homemade lighting. The shoestring budget, she says, definitely prompted creativity in assembling a 3-point lighting system. She borrowed an overhead projector to cast a wash of warm light on the backdrop, while her key light is a floodlight framed in poster board and held up with chopsticks and twine.

From such modest beginnings came a striking collection of portraits, which she printed and framed, then carried the short trek up Frog Hollow alley to exhibit her work at 51 Main. At Evancie's opening reception, which included live music by Mandroid, her exhibit drew a packed house that included an unusually diverse mix of students, faculty, staff and community members. "I'm really happy to see so many staff here to see pictures of themselves and their co-workers," Evancie said during the reception. "I'm really pleased that they're feeling appreciated. That's what this is all about."

51 Main at the Bridge is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 p.m.-midnight and Thursday-Saturday, 1 p.m. - 1 a.m.