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Kennedy Verse (Left) Dana Murtada (Right)

In recent years Northeastern students have been accepted into the Photo Resource Center (PRC) Student Exhibition. The PRC celebrates and recognizes photography students hailing from seven Institutional Member schools in the Boston area. This year’s exhibition will be presented online and selected prints will be available for in-person viewing at Panopticon Gallery on Commonwealth Ave. Northeastern had many students participate in the PRC Exhibition and we extend our sincerest congratulations on this significant accomplishment.

Northeastern students Kennedy Verse and Dana Murtada will share their work at the online opening reception on Friday, April 9 at 7 p.m. 

Dana attributes much of her success in photography to the encouragement and mentorship she received from Assistant Teaching Professor of Photography Dana Mueller. “She has always been supportive and has sent me any opportunities she thinks would fit in with my style of photography and was a huge reason I was able to get into this exhibition,” said Dana. Dana was ecstatic when she learned that her work was accepted into the gallery, and thrilled that it would be printed and framed. “I went to visit my prints at the Panopticon Gallery, it was so surreal, and such an honor especially after seeing all the other amazing and unique photography that was up as well,” added Dana. 

Dana will be sharing photographs from her series, 7uriya. In this series, Dana explores the irony surrounding cultural expectations in the Middle East. Dana began her research by breaking down the meaning of “taboo” and how it manifests itself in the Middle East. Dana was able to find a focus group that  grew up in Arab culture, but “each of which has been affected by the rooted expectations that exist.” Dana explained there are many topics in Arab culture that they are taught to avoid discussing such as mental health, sexuality, drinking and smoking. “It is also often the case that exposure to the freedom of such factors later in life, i.e., via moving abroad, can result in overindulgence,” added Dana.

“My focus in this project was to examine and visualize what taboo means to each individual in the focus group, and how they have been affected in the longer term,” explained Dana. She created a series of portraits for each model, providing them a platform and sought to allow them the opportunity to “liberate themselves from these constraints.” Although  Dana had never explored portrait work before, her passion for the project encouraged her to delve deep into the project. 

For Kennedy, this is the first time her work will be displayed anywhere and is thrilled that she has been given this incredible honor. Kennedy explained that she will be displaying a print from her series “Folktales,” focusing on stories she’s been told by family members and their experiences with creatures like spirits or “hants.” One image originates from a story her great aunt told her when she was a child. Her family lived in close proximity to a cemetery and following the burial of a family member, spirits would visit their family home at night. These spirits were often malevolent and frightened her aunt. One night, a spirit slapped members of her family while they were asleep and left a red mark on her aunt’s cheek. “This is the moment that I reenacted with my older sister in this image” explained Kennedy.  “I wanted the image to be able to visually tell the story while conveying the overall tone of that night,” she added. 

“I love being able to take this story that I have heard so many times and turn it into a visual experience,” added Kennedy. “I am probably the most excited about being able to share my photo series with my aunt who originally told this ghost story and seeing her reaction to it.” 

Kennedy’s interest in photography began after needing to fulfill an elective in high school. She signed up for photography classes and enjoyed it so much she pursued it throughout high school and now in college. “I enjoy learning about the history of photography, how to shoot in manual, and exploring different photography styles,” said Kennedy. 

For Dana, her appreciation and interest in photography began as a child when she would watch her dad take pictures of everything. “I began to understand the value of capturing experiences that would soon turn into old memories,” said Dana. This appreciation is what started her capturing special moments and taking photos with whatever camera she had available to her. 

Both students have been able to utilize their photography skills in dynamic co-op experiences. Dana currently works two part-time jobs with the Massachusetts Port Authority and with the Makerspace at Northeastern. 

In the fall, Kennedy will work with Boston wedding photographer, Nicole Chan, as a photography and videography assistant. “I will mainly assist with wedding and commercial shoots and I am excited about this position and all that it entails!” said Kennedy. 

When asked what advice both Kennedy and Dana would give to students interested in photography, here’s what they said: 

Dana: “Personally, I feel like photography has always meant a lot to me, and finally being able to pursue it, and get recognition has been more amazing than I can describe. Push yourself to take any classes or any opportunities you have to take photos. The more you take, the more you’ll learn your own style, and the more you’ll understand about it. Never doubt your photography, and just keep pushing yourself to take photos!” 

Kennedy: “Take as many photos as you can, explore different types of photography styles, and get creative! Over the years I have learned that things like props and locations don’t always have to be fancy or expensive, you just have to look at them from a new perspective to capture a photo that you like.”

To learn more about the 2021 PRC Student Exhibition, please click here.