Industry Night! Something Beautiful at Columbia College

Last night, I could not resist making an exception to my vanishing act called sabbatical at Columbia College, succombing to the wonderful magnetism of crazy end-of-semester energy to see what was happening at Industry Night. Industry Night initiates graduating students -BA, BFA, and MFA- into what is being billed as the premier networking experience. This happening series of events takes place annually on the eve of graduation and the accompanying South Loop Spring Fling called Manifest, hosted by Columbia’s students, staff, administration and faculty, and invites working professionals to meet and greet our soon-to-be grads.

And oh what a night! It was a beautiful sight to see rows of bright beautiful students, on the threshold of the rest of their lives, ranging from spit and polish suit and tie, to the totally gothed-out, to the most stylish fashionistas, eager to share their wares, engage with the viewing public, and in particular, working professionals in photography. You gotta love Columbia for it’s diversity- diversity of students and diversity of work that comes out of the photography department! Every facet of photography was represented, mapping the terrain of photography itself – fantastic taped and painted photographs by Daniel Hojnacki to Samantha Gold’s amazing fashion photography and poignant Chicago Public school images of kids at play, to a beautiful portrait series interpreting the pain and resilience of South American citizens, among many that impressed. The breadth and depth of practice was awe-inspiring!

A BIG shout out goes to beloved photography professor Elizabeth Ernst, who does the most  balletic, delicate, arm twisting, to get every professional photographer in Chicago to the event.

Though many dedicated people at Columbia makes this night so successful, it is truly a tribute to Elizabeth’s respect in the field, because these busy pro’s show up for her! And we all know that the hardest part is getting everyone to the party, because once there, our students’ work shines and entices.

© Elizabeth Ernst, Courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery

Just in case you couldn’t make it last night, you are in luck! Columbia just kicked off their new website that is a database called Talent Pool ( So relax, get a glass of wine, peruse through the remarkable talent, and get ready to be blown away by the latest and the greatest. And in a few years, you’ll be browsing through the magazines and visiting galleries, to be pleasantly surprised when you think to yourself “I’ve seen that artist’s work before”, and realize that indeed you did, when these vibrant new artists were just emerging into the beautiful world of professional practice.

Excerpt: 22 Views of Watching the Glacier Melt © Judy Natal 2011

Excerpt: 22 Views of Watching the Glacier Melt © Judy Natal 2011 from Judy Natal on Vimeo.

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