For Jenna Chalmers, everything comes back to the ocean.
The fourth-year photography fine arts major, who had her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) thesis exhibition “Atlantic” from April 27 to May 1, said she started her BFA a little later than usual because she kept abandoning the projects she didn’t like.
Chalmers, a Smithtown, Long Island native, grew up on the beach and said that was the place she was most comfortable shooting.
“I always go back to it,” Chalmers said. “I’m drawn to it.”
She said she would go home almost every weekend and work with the water and waves at Robert Moses Beach. She knew she couldn’t simply photograph the beach, so she began to experiment with angles and close-ups.
Chalmers even began placing objects in the waves to create different shapes.
“There’s some photos with glass bowls in the way, ice blocks, Plexiglas,” Chalmers said. “I like creating things out of water and waves.”
Unlike other BFA students who work in multiple mediums, Chalmers said she was only interested in photography.
“I can’t draw, I can’t paint, I can’t do anything else so I knew I was going to do photo as soon as I got to college,” Chalmers said. “After I did foundations, I just started taking photo classes right away, knowing that’s what I wanted and focused on it.”
During her exhibition, Chalmers said that people were reading into “Atlantic” more than she thought they would. She said that she was happy that people not only saw her desire to make beautiful pictures, but for those pictures to “mean something.”
“The work is doing something for me and doing something for you and if those two things don’t match up, that’s fine with me,” she said. “Just to get anything out of my work is fine with me.”
Chalmers said it was great to have a year’s worth of hard work on display for everyone to see. She said her thesis became much more than a project to her.
“It was like my child,” Chalmers said. “It was a projection of myself, I think. It was the best experience doing a thesis, a BFA, so I’m really proud.”
With her BFA thesis show over, Chalmers said she will be heading back to Long Island after graduation. She said she doesn’t have any concrete plans as of now.
“I think I’m going to just keep making work and see what I can do,” Chalmers said. “We’ve been taught here that we can make it as an artist and that we should try, so I’m
going to try.”