by Meghan Merkel
The day the darkroom died. For 19 years, the communications department has offered the uses of the photography darkroom, located in the old Communications Center. Prior to 1982, the original darkroom was located in the Mansion but according to Dr. Jerry Zurek, chair of the English/communication department, “It was abandoned because of ghosts.”
For years students have enrolled in the communication courses, Basic and Advanced Photography, both necessitating darkroom use. This semester is the last they will be offered.
Tracey Howard has been teaching these courses here for four years. “Photography is an outlet for creative ideas. It has an application for every student as it’s geared toward learning how to see your world,” Howard said. She taught photography previously at St. Joseph’s University, University of Delaware, University of the Arts, Abington Art Center and Bucks County Community College. Every one of her classes was within the fine arts department.
“Dober and Associates, the college’s space planner, didn’t feel there was enough room for the darkroom within the old communication area when it is converted to the fine art studios,” Zurek said.
Digital photography promises a technological tomorrow. “We’re sorry to see the darkroom go because students over the years have enjoyed learning how to use the darkroom. However, chemical darkroom is now more suited to art photography than communication. The communication department already has been using digital photography extensively so we are just making the transition completely,” Zurek stated.
Zurek, along with English/communication professor Cathy Yungmann, has been visiting other universities to examine their digital photography equipment. According to Zurek, “We will be purchasing more digital cameras, scanners and color printers so that digital photography will be able to be taught to an equal number of students as now take darkroom photography.”
Tim Gordon, junior English/communication major, is disappointed that the darkroom is being taken out. “I took basic photography last semester and really enjoyed it. I still use the darkroom this semester to continue working on my prints,” he said.
Jenine Ikeler, another junior English/communication major, agreed, “It was a unique experience being able to go through the process of how to develop and print your own film. The darkroom’s atmosphere allows students to be in a different world.”
This will also be Howard’s last semester at Cabrini. “I loved teaching here and really enjoyed working in the darkroom with the students. Curiosity and learning is so important to staying vital, and if I can help others by teaching, then it’s always worth it,” Howard commented.
Ikeler concluded, “I can’t imagine not seeing Tracey [Howard] around. She is so talented and helped us understand the art of using the darkroom.”