Kohl Gallery features student photographer
In May 2011, the Kohl Gallery showcased the work of Karly Kolaja ’11, a major in English and photojournalism. Her exhibition consisted of more than 30 captioned photographs and an essay entitled “The Essential Impulse of the Andes: Visual Literacy and the Culture of the Sacred Valley, Peru.”
Kolaja’s collection featured photographs documenting the tension between tourism and traditional life in Peru. Her excursion to the South American country was funded with the help of the Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows.
“The area I explored once encompassed the Sacred Valley—the religious, political and military seat of the Inca Empire,” she wrote. “Now, it is recognized as the country’s tourism capital, with some 800,000 visitors passing through its largest city, Cuzco, each year. I wondered if any vestiges of traditional Andean ways of life have survived this vacationing onslaught.”
Kolaja’s interest in photojournalism was largely self-motivated. Transferring to Washington College in the second semester of her first year, Kolaja wanted to combine her dual interests in photography and social justice and to follow in the footsteps of female photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Carol Guzy, and Washington College’s own Constance Stuart Larrabee. To accomplish her goal, she created a Self-Designed Major in photojournalism under the direction of Professor Donald McColl in the Department of Art and Art History.
Karly’s Senior Capstone Experience exhibition represented the final, impressive culmination of her diversified course of study.
“Ever since my childhood,” she stated, “my cinematographer father has instilled a belief in me that photography is all about telling stories. I have come to agree with him…. [Photography] has the power to arouse sincere feelings. And it can effect real change.”