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Focal Point

The Point

Winter 2012

The late Patrick Millard with students

The late Patrick Millard (second from left; see In Memoriam below) leads a photography arts discussion in fall 2011.

"What's most important to me is creating a story with each photograph I take," Point Park alumna Rachel Tokarski says in a blog about her life's work. "I am passionate about photography and the point of view you can create with every subject."

Tokarski, 24, graduated from Point Park in 2010 with a B.A. in photojournalism. She now manages her own photography business and serves as a curatorial assistant at Wood Street Galleries in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Tokarski says every day she lives the words of famed American photographer Richard Avedon: "If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it's as though I've neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up."

Each year, a new group of students begins to develop a passion for photography at Point Park. In 2011-12, about 60 undergrads are pursuing bachelor of fine arts degrees in photography, and more than 40 are studying photojournalism. All are making the
most of the programs' hands-on learning and opportunities to develop their craft and careers on campus and off.

Over the past two years the School of Communication has expanded its B.F.A. in photography course offerings, initiated a photography lecture series, opened new studios and labs, acquired and installed new equipment, added exhibition space for student photographs, and created new practicum and internship opportunities.

Assistant Professor Patrick Millard joined the faculty in 2010 to develop the B.F.A. program and to work with Assistant Professor Christopher Rolinson, who oversees the photojournalism program. Both are collaborating to create new opportunities for students and deepen connections for alumni.

Focus on Fine Arts

Millard made it a priority to bring B.F.A. classes back to campus and expand course offerings. He also launched Point Park's photography blog for students and alumni ( and the "Speaking Light" series of lectures. He is also exploring opportunities for student works to be professionally exhibited in Pittsburgh's Cultural District.

Millard says he intends for Point Park's photographic arts program to be known nationally and he believes it is well on its way.
"Prospective students interested in fine arts photography are attracted to our small class sizes," says Millard. "They realize they can receive one- on-one instruction here and get to know their professors individually, unlike studying and working at a large university. And Point Park's downtown location is a big attraction."

Telling Stories through Photojournalism

Alumna Rachel Withers, 29, says getting to know her professors was key to launching her own career. The 2005 photojournalism grad says as a student she accompanied Rolinson on photo shoots for his business and worked with instructors on multiple projects. She began to build her portfolio and gained paid assignments. She says she also learned about the business of photography.

Today the Westchester County resident shoots weddings and portraits in New York City and surrounding areas and teaches photography to young children. She makes it a point to keep in touch with her instructors.

Rolinson says Point Park's ability to provide students with networking opportunities and one-on-one attention indeed sets the University's photography programs apart.

In spring 2011 Rolinson took a digital photography class to the former Carrie Furnace steel site. The resulting work was then featured in the Rivers of Steel at Point Park University student and faculty photography exhibit in the Lawrence Hall lobby, a show that drew praise from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In Memoriam

Shortly before going to press, The Point received the sad news that Patrick Millard died in December 2011. An artist who was raised in Lamont, Mich., Millard's work in photography, new media and sound resulted in a diversified portfolio that addressed ideas about media, digital culture, technology and the interactions that human beings have within their own synthetic environment. His work was exhibited nationally and internationally and continues to gain recognition. "Patrick was a valued and dedicated member of our faculty," said Point Park President Paul Hennigan. "He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, his students and all who knew him."

Text by Colleen Derda

Photo by Frank Walsh

The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University.