Each year, Art Professor Lisa Anne Auerbach gives graduating art majors something to take with them as they leave Pomona.
For more than a decade, she has photographed the department’s seniors in individual portraits, capturing them in a setting they choose themselves on campus or nearby. The resulting portraits are colorful and sometimes playful, often capturing the students’ artistic sensibilities.
“It’s an interesting time to make a portrait when most of our students are on the precipice of this new time in their lives,” says Auerbach, who started the project in 2010 during her first year at Pomona. “The images reflect who they are at the moment and maybe a bit of who they aspire to be, going forward.”
Last fall, her work resulted in an exhibit in the Chan Gallery on campus: Senior Portraits—The First Decade. Grouped by class year, the individual portraits created a moving history of the department and subtle changes in student styles.
Auerbach persisted with the project through the pandemic graduations of 2020 and 2021, driving as far as Ojai to photograph a student, taking another photo via Zoom and creating one with a photograph of a photograph. With any luck, Senior Portraits—The Second Decade, is ahead.
“It has a very positive effect on the relationship that I’m able to build with these students going forward,” Auerbach says. “We’re relating as people in the way that one relates to their professors after they graduate, sowing the groundwork for a future relationship when we can be just people in the world together—collaborators or friends.”