Oct 15, 2019
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Fresno City College professor and professional photographer Steve Dzerigian signs his newly released book "Trail of Stones" for a fan buying his book in Fresno State's Conley Art Gallery on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (Anjanae Freitas/The Collegian)

Photographer focuses on memory

Some 85 people filled the Henry Madden Library’s Room 2206, with others having to stand up in the back as everyone waited for Steve Dzerigian to present the release of his photography book, “Trail of Stones.”

On Sept. 4, Fresno City College (FCC) professor of 29 years and professional photographer celebrated the work that went into his new photography book by having a lecture on his inspiration, as well as a book signing for fans at Fresno State.

During the first part of the event, Dzerigian shared his background and details about his creative process in piecing the book together photo by photo. 

He began by sharing a dedication for the presentation and book to his mother Lucille who died recently.

Dzerigian also told students, staff and the public that he was diagnosed with transient global amnesia after doctors discovered a brain aneurysm in 2017.

Despite the life-altering news, it did not prevent Dzerigian from pursuing his passion in life, photography. 

The photography book “Trail of Stones” depicts personally symbolic images in a visual diary format that combines natural scenes and surroundings with an undeniable connection to human beings, Dzerigian said.

The Interiors was a chapter of “Trail of Stones” that gave detailed descriptions and instructions on how Dzerigian was able to take photos that clearly portrayed where he was at during specific moments of time in his life. 

Dzerigian shared that the key elements from The Interiors, to him, were distance, space and time.

By going on a journey of long hikes and steep stairways in Dzerigian’s photographic path, he realized that his own photo equipment forced him to slow down and be mindful of appreciating and taking in the natural scenery around him. 

Equipment was heavy, and carrying around a camera, tripod and other such devices made him take breaks, giving him opportunities to simply breathe in his environment.

The Human Landscape chapter displayed on screen the same stone formation photo which Dzerigian chose to use as his book’s front cover.

Dzerigian would return to the same location, year after year, to see the interesting ways that people stacked stones in formations. This is how he realized he wanted to make this photo series of rock alignments a part of the central ideas in his book.

The photo is titled ‘The Currency,’ which was a mistaken photo of double exposure. These photos were later shown in an exhibition called “Photosynthesis,” which Dzerigian created in Fresno 40 years ago.

Building relationships with colleagues and new photographers helped Dzerigian develop an understanding and love for the art of photography. 

“Making art is labor intensive, and the spirit is indeed enhanced by sharing knowledge,” he said.

Dzerigian’s closing statement for audience members to ponder was: “I made my living as an educator and to grow the creative spirit where efforts were close to my heart.”

Kathy Wosika, retired art professor at FCC, showed her support for Dzerigian, former colleague and good friend. 

“He has such a diverse body of work. He can go and get an idea and really develop it over time for many years,” Wosika said. “Steve is a good storyteller, in addition to his beautiful images. So it is always wonderful to hear the backstory of the artist himself.”

After the open talk, the event moved over to Fresno State’s Conley Art Gallery for the audience to view Dzerigian’s photography up close and personal.

Dzerigian’s book signing lasted for roughly an hour, with fans pulling him into new conversations and photo opportunities to remember their experience at Fresno State. 

The free event was open to students, staff and the public. 

“Trail of Stones” was available for purchase for $34.95.

Dr. Nora Chapman and Benjamin Kirk, Fresno State faculty members from the arts and humanities department, were contributors who helped put together the event for Dzerigian.

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