Wednesday, January 10, 2018

URSP Student Valerie McKenna Investigates How the Public Conceptualizes Change within their Environment

My name is Valerie McKenna, and I am a senior AVT major with a minor in environmental science. During Fall 2017 I was able to have the opportunity to work with Professor Lynne Constantine on a project entitled “Perceptions of a Town’s Development.” My research project investigates how the public sees and understands change within their immediate environments. I chose to examine my hometown Purcellville, Virginia, as it is the most immediate environment I can both personally understand, and conduct interviews with residents without invading their privacy.

This project resulted in a body of work for a solo art exhibition consisting of photographs, video, and audio installation. During the beginning of the semester I was researching archival images, and then I would pair them with contemporary photographs I took from the same location. Once eight of these pairings were selected, I began editing the photos and preparing them for print. Mid semester I began recording interviews with residents of the town, and then mid to late November I was editing the audio files while printing, framing, and installing the work. I exhibited this work on campus from November 28th through December 2nd, and I plan on having another exhibition in Purcellville in 2018.

This research opportunity gave me real life experience in my field, from installing my own work in a gallery space to practicing how to conduct an interview. Through this research I was also able to work with audio and video installations for the first time. I would like to continue this project and conduct additional interviews with residents before the 2018 exhibition. As a graduating senior who plans on applying to graduate schools, this opportunity to conduct research further prepares me to pursue an MFA.