Worth a Thousand Words: Photography and Economics
This April, the photography exhibit “Exploring Economic Issues Through a Photographer’s Lens” took place at the Student Union on the New York City campus. The exhibit was the culmination of an economics course in which students document economic principles through photography. The exhibit explored themes such as inequality and poverty, economic growth, and immigration. More than 150 people attended the opening event.
“Photographs help people understand economic issues,” said Chelsea Ruda ’19, Business Economics. “Unlike complex theories or data, photos allow the average person to see the impact of economics.” One of the topics represented in the exhibit was the epidemic of homelessness in New York City. As the idiom goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and images, like those of people in need, have the power to present complex economic issues in a more universally understandable way.
A lover of both economics and photography, Assistant Professor of Economics Anna Shostya developed the “Photographer’s Lens” course in the spring of 2015 with the goal of challenging the perception of economics as a dry, dismal science, and improve students’ imagination and creative thinking. “Looking at economics through a photographer’s lens forces students to think outside of their textbook framework,” she said. “The best photos are the ones that tell stories, and economists have a very important story to tell.”
As part of the year-end photo exhibit, each student showcases his or her best photos from the semester. This year’s exhibit was sponsored in part by a Pace University Opportunity Grant awarded to business economics student Chelsea Ruda. Funded by the Student Government Association, the grant supports events and projects that enrich the Pace community. The funding paid for frames, easels, photo printing, and a guest speaker, renowned photographer Rachel Banai. Four alumni of the course also returned as honorary guests to showcase new work, proving that the course has the ability to ignite a passion for art and photography that can carry on even after students graduate.
“The photography element [of the course] absolutely changed my understanding of economics,” said Ruda. “After spending a semester exploring the city and documenting the topics we were studying, I learned to pay more attention to the effects economists have on the world, and how to present them to others.”
See photos from the exhibition here.