I first connected with the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia in 2018, when I was invited to teach a two-week workshop to undergraduate and graduate students working in the program. It was a transformative experience for me and resulted in a long-lasting friendship and collaboration with Dubravka Lazic, a Professor of Photography at the Academy.
When I first visited the Academy of Arts, I was immediately struck by the school’s similarities with Ithaca College. In 2023, I was awarded a grant from the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County to develop a series of collaborative projects with Dubravka and the Academy of Arts. I immediately thought of trying to connect our students, and through a series of conversations with Dubravka we landed on the idea of doing two exhibitions – one featuring work by Ithaca College students shown in Novi Sad, and the other students from Serbia displayed at Ithaca College.
The two exhibitions were fully organized by the participating students. Both groups of students came up with themes for the exhibitions – the Ithaca College students decided to entitle the exhibition of their work Banal Experience while the students from Novi Sad called their exhibition Face to Face. Dubravka and I facilitated zoom meetings between the students during which time each student was given a few minutes to introduce themselves and their photographic work. Each student then submitted three to five pictures and the two groups curated the exhibition based on their understanding of the respective themes, so the students curated the two shows. The exhibition Banal Experience, pictures by Ithaca College students, opened in Novi Sad in December 2023, and Face to Face opened here in Ithaca in January 2024.