Awakening to beauty
Beauty is all around us, and for each of the students in the Chaminade Scholars program, documenting and expressing what is beautiful in life took the form of a gift of reflection, a photo book titled Awakening to Beauty. With the spring 2020 semester on campus cut short, the book — always meaningful to each cohort each year — took on added significance.
Jack Dalton and Claire Evans are part of the program for honors students to explore faith, reason and vocation. They were among those who contributed their personal view of beauty through photographs paired with spiritual, reflective or inspirational quotes.
“When you recognize this kind of deep communal bond, I think the significance of the photo book becomes more profound,” Evans said.
Dalton, now a senior education major, explained the process of creating the book.
“Each member of the cohort provides pictures and quotes that are aimed at drawing the viewer’s mind to reflect on how his or her vocation intersects with the daily beauty around them,” Dalton said.
In the past, students in each cohort of Chaminade Scholars have gone on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi after their junior year. Previously, the book was used as a gift to those who assisted the scholars on their pilgrimage.
When classes went online last March and students scattered to their homes, they sought assistance from a professional photographer to finish the book, Dalton said.
“The photographs and quotes for the book were collected and handed off to Tom Patterson, a photographer who graciously offered to assist us in organizing our work into the photo book format,” Dalton said. “A week after we handed the content over to Tom, we were informed that we would not be able to go on a pilgrimage.”
Dalton said he was disappointed the 14 students would not be traveling together but that the change in plans provided a new opportunity.
“The photo book seemed somewhat meaningless because it was supposed to be a gift to those we would meet on pilgrimage,” Dalton said. “However, our instructor, Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, encouraged us to make the photobook into a historical piece by adding a section about our response as a cohort to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The most recent volume is presented two sections: images from before being sent home in March and images from the weeks within quarantine at the students’ homes.
Dalton discussed the influence of his other classes in creating his images.
“I happened to be taking digital photography for non-majors the same time we were compiling the photo book,” Dalton said. “A lot of my photographs incorporated the compositional elements and techniques I was learning in the class at the time, especially in the photographs I took that utilized light and color as strong elements.”
For Evans, an education major, documenting things that brought her closer to God and using quotes that spoke to her and her peers were her ways of incorporating the beauty of life.
“The quotes came from all the course materials we read throughout the semester,” said Evans, noting the special influence of A Sacred Voice is Calling by John Neafsey. She paired with the image of the bee with this quote: “In order to have eyes that see and ears that hear, we must also have hearts that feel.”
“In order to have eyes that see and ears that hear, we must also have hearts that feel.”
For each student, finding joy and documenting its image reflected what mattered to each of them. As the class came to a close, Dalton said he realized how finding beauty in the world inspired him and his vocation.
“For me, vocation takes on a form of joy,” Dalton said. “When I can help bring about joy in someone else's life by walking their journey with them, I see that as living out some part of my vocation.”