Following in the footsteps of the acclaimed French photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, Ali Meizels ’19 took to the streets of Paris with her Canon Rebel T3i in hand this summer capturing the city’s ephemeral moments and charming streetscapes as the most recent recipient of the Pat Rosoff Fellowship for Media Arts.
Meizels’s trip could not have been more impeccably timed. Her ten-day trip to Paris, Versailles, and Giverny included not only observing the country’s annual Bastille Day celebration but also witnessing the French win at the FIFA World Cup soccer final and the ensuing madness in the streets. She said, “That weekend was definitely a highlight. It was crazy. The French people were already excited about Bastille Day, and the World Cup win took it to another level.” Wisely, the group of five photography students and their photography instructor and guide watched the melee from their hotel so as not to get caught in the fray of tipping cars. Despite the distance, Meizels did snap an extraordinary image of an exuberant young reveler on the back of a motorbike that encapsulates the energy of the moment.
Meizels began photography at Camp KO while she was in middle school with her point-and-shoot camera. She showed such promise and dedication to her craft that KO photography teacher Greg Scranton allowed her to take a photography class as a sophomore which is typically a class reserved for juniors and seniors. Meizels credits Scranton’s support. “He always let me do these independent and crazy things which are really nice.” During her sophomore year she when traveled to Tobati, Paraguay for the school's service trip, Meizels created a portfolio of street images that she entitled “Humans of Tobati.” For this particular trip, Mr. Scranton loaned her a 50 mm lens from the art department so she could experiment with a new lens and improve upon her work.
Meizels prefers to take portraits of people, however, due to the language barrier in France, she learned to take more candids of her Parisian subjects. She also worked steadily on composing a shot so that an errant tree doesn’t appear through someone’s head or an awkwardly placed wall doesn’t cut through a person’s stomach. “Now, I am always thinking about composition which is cool. It’s definitely new to me to think about, and it’s not until you put it in the forefront of your work do you realize its importance,” she said. The attention to detail shows. Her artfully composed shot of an exterior of a building perfectly frames a woman sitting indoors leaning on her small wrought iron balcony. Tres magnifique.
This spring Meizels plans on taking a studio art class which offers her more freedom and independence. Although she does not plan on attending art school for college, she is considering photography as a minor while pursuing her interest in journalism.
The Patricia Rosoff Fellowship for Media Arts
In 2007, an anonymous donor created an endowment intended to reinforce and enhance the creative growth of a Kingswood Oxford student or faculty member. These funds have been earmarked for students who, while they demonstrate marked ability in the visual arts, would most greatly benefit from concentrated focus in studio art beyond the limitations of the KO classroom. It sets aside money to enable pre-college summer work or other opportunities for personal and artistic growth that might serve to embolden and give confidence to a student. It might also be used to enable an arts faculty member to concentrate on—or enrich the growth of—his/her own artistic work. The intent, in the giving, was to support people, rather than program or facilities. These funds were used for the first time in the summer of 2008.