The steady crowd of Santa Clarita Valley residents who stepped into the 1,000-square-foot storefront used by The Master’s College during the Farmer’s Market in downtown Newhall Thursday got more than the sign sitting in front of the door promised.

It read “World Photo Gallery,” and the display inside certainly delivered on that promise. Visitors were treated to a gallery of more than 65 photos of people and places taken all over the world by The Master’s College students – most of whom snapped the shots during 2011 summer missions trips.  Click here to see images from the exhibition.

Master's College Photo Gallery1.jpgBut visitors also got something else – a view of the college that cannot be found in a brochure or on a website. They got to see the world through the eyes of some of its students.

Passing from display to display, guests saw moments of time captured in places like England and Austria, Malawi and Indonesia, The Philippines, Fiji, Columbia and South Africa. More than two dozen countries were featured as a panel of judges combed through picking their favorites.

“The contest takes place in two categories – world places and world faces” said Dr. Lisa La George, The Master’s College director of global outreach and associate professor of intercultural studies.

Best in Show will receive a $500 scholarship toward a global outreach trip in 2011. A pair of $250.00 scholarships was also up for grabs. Winners will be announced next week, after the student body has an opportunity to weigh in at a special on-campus viewing.

This is the third year the college has held the contest, but Thursday marked the first time Master’s has held a public viewing off campus.

“This year we approached the city about doing it at the Farmer’s Market,” La George said. “They said, ‘Sure.’ I thought we’d get a little space, and when I saw this … wow!’ It’s nice to get the students out into the city and to let the community know more about us.”

The large space allowed La George to expand the offerings to include showings from four other college artists: Freshman photographer Preston Richardson, who showed a series of photos he took in Europe; sophomore Natalie Gates, who displayed illustrations depicting her home state of Alaska; senior Jordan Beakley, who exhibited a collection of clay sculptures; and senior Esther Ogg who showcased a collection of her paintings.

In addition to the contest photos and the artists’ displays, guests enjoyed live music and free refreshments as they mingled with judges and college students and faculty who also came to enjoy the gallery.

Fred Ruckersfeldt, a 2010 The Master’s College graduate and veteran of summer missions trips to India (2008) and The Philippines (2010), was one of the judges. Ruckersfeldt teaches a photography seminar for students preparing to take missions trips.

“You want a picture that tells a story,” he said. “You’re looking for those iconic pictures that allow you to catch a glimpse into the lives of the people you’re looking at.”

Ruckersfeldt also liked the opportunity the event gave the community to catch a glimpse of life on campus.

“A lot of people in Santa Clarita don’t know about The Master’s College,” he said. “It’s great for us to have the exposure.”

Ruckersfeldt wouldn’t reveal his favorite photos, but said he was pleased with the quality of the photos displayed.

Also judging were Lukas and Susannah VanDyke of Lukas VanDyke Photography, Jennifer Miller of Media Soup, Peter Bargas, Director of Campus Ministries, and Dr. Brian Morley, professor of Theology.

Ken Lubas, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer for the Los Angeles Times, who was showing some of his work on the other side of Main Street, also dropped by to have a look around. La George says he had his favorites as well.

One photo that stopped more than a few visitors in their tracks was of a sunset in the South African Jungle, titled “Glow” by TMC student Luke Hardy. In it, a pair of sparsely-leaved trees stand silhouetted against a deep orange sky – creation captured in all its splendor.

“I guess God gets the credit for that one,” Hardy said.   --  Article by Bob Dickson