By Srianthi Perera


They are emerging photographers, but hardly novices in their chosen field. Their work is sophisticated, serious and often offers a complex message.

These are the student photographers of Arizona enrolled in high schools, community colleges, art schools and universities across the state who receive additional exposure beyond academia when they participate in Gilbert-based Art Intersection’s annual Emerge Student Photography exhibition. This year it’s slated for May 1-26.

“In this exhibition, we offer student photographers an opportunity to show their work in a professional gallery, fulfilling our mission to support early-career photographers,” said Alan Fitzgerald, owner of Art Intersection.

Participants may range in age from high school students to seniors; the only requirement is that they are photography students.

“The work is always representative of the finest emerging student photographers in Arizona,” said Fitzgerald, whose gallery is organizing this for the eighth year.

Charlene Stant Engel, artist and show sponsor, said that he looks forward to it because “Every year it is fresh and unexpected.

“It always makes me smile to see the work of so many intense and talented young artists. To them I say: Let nothing stop you. Keep making Art!” he said.

Tempe resident Ashley Czajkowski, a photography-based artist who works in a number of interdisciplinary methods, will jury Emerge. She herself was featured in “Next Level,” an exhibition at Art Intersection in 2015, and has also assisted in workshops previously.

Czajkowski will examine about 400 images submitted from approximately 150 photographers and select the 100 or so that will comprise the show and the online gallery.

What does she look for?

“In curating work for any show, I typically look for images which make me pause. Images that force me to slow down, even for a second, and ask questions,” she said. “For me, this is the best kind of artwork; images that don’t necessarily provide answers, but rather provoke questions.”

Czajkowski, who works in video, installation, and alternative print processes, said that an underlying message would be integral to a piece.

“Though I am very aesthetically driven, I find photographs that are only beautiful quite boring,” she said. “We live in an image saturated society, so gorgeous sunset photographs are a dime a dozen — just ask Penelope Umbrico, a contemporary artist who makes immersive image collages from appropriated photographs of sunsets on flickr.

“So, instead, I look for images that are striking aesthetically but also reveal some conceptual depth, and idea or a message.”

In addition to the exposure, chosen Emerge participants also receive prizes for Best in Show ($250 sponsored by Through Each Other’s Eyes, a Phoenix-founded nonprofit that encourages people around the world to understand and appreciate diverse cultures through photography); Best of Post-High School ($100 sponsored by Charlene Stant Engel); and Best of High School ($100 sponsored by artists/art patrons Kelly and Dennis Collins). 


Emerge will be on display May 1-26 at Art Intersection, 207 N. Gilbert Road #201, Gilbert.

Opening Reception is from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, May 5.

Details: 480-361-1118 or