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Point Park Photography Student Holds First Show

Alyssa Maurer was devastated after finding out her boyfriend had cheated on her, so she turned to her passion of abstract art and photography to overcome the heartbreak that made her feel trashy. The Point Park photography and business major gathered a collection of garbage that ranged from old newspapers, cups, cigarettes, paint, candy wrappers and just about anything else she could find on the downtown streets and transformed them into unique costume reminiscent of a swamp-like creature. “I was cheated on and felt like a piece of trash, so I transferred the negative energies that I was feeling into a photography project for my black and white film photography course.”

The outcome was “Trash Monsters,” a full-blown exhibit using different mediums such as black and white film photos, music, video, and mannequins that was presented at Runaway Studios last Friday and Saturday.

Growing up around the Pittsburgh area, Alyssa Maurer knew from an early age that art was always going to be a big part of her life because of the instant gratification she got from it. While her major in photography at Point Park is where her passion lies, Maurer realizes the tough competition involved within the industry. “It sort of made sense to go to school for it, but it is a tricky field so I’m also going for business as a major.”

Demetrius Nassy, one of the models of the project and a close friend of Maurer, said that this project is so unique in the fact that nobody has ever seen anything like it before. “Each piece of the photos had a ‘why?’ that was answered, both in Alyssa’s own words and in the photos, with more than a ‘just because.’” Nassy added that this was a type of healing process for Maurer. “She put her heart and her emotions into the entire piece, and when I was walking through the gallery at Runaway Studios, I could see the turns she took during her emotions as she pulled herself back together.”

Maurer said having her friends as models was a huge part of the completion and success of this project. “You have to have a strong bond with someone in order for them to dress up in trash and walk around downtown for you, which was hilarious!” Maurer owes a lot of her success to her best friend, Ryan Harding who made the promotional video for the exhibit, which was also displayed at Runaway Studios. “I have to give a lot of credit to my main man, Ryan, for being extremely patient with me and exceptionally talented with a camera.” 

When asked about his involvement with “Trash Monsters,” Harding, who is a cinema production major, claimed he was just thankful to show off his passion for film as well. “Working with Alyssa is always great, and we had fun, but I also feel honored to have shown the city my film talents and get my work out there.”

The models also enjoyed working on this project. Model Kelsey Brooks claimed she enjoyed working on a personal level with Maurer. “Working on ‘Trash Monsters’ was a really unique experience for me because not only was it the first time I have modeled for someone, but it was unique in the fact that you were completely in costume!” Brooks added that Maurer has an incredible artistic eye. “All art tells a story of it’s own, but Alyssa took that to the next level in my opinion, and she made something simple come to life by creating her monsters.” Paul Prosser, also a model, felt this was a way to express himself as well. “Working with Alyssa on ‘Trash Monsters’ was a blast for the simple fact that I got to feel free in my own way and how I get to bring my character to life, as well as creating a memory with great people.”

While having her own art show at Runaway Studios is her biggest accomplishment to date, Maurer said it was also very challenging at the same time due to all of the mediums involved in the installation. “Just getting all of them to coincide with each other was a challenge!” However, Maurer said everything ended up coming together as a unit. “In the end, the installation, mannequin model, photography pieces, video presentation, and band came together to give my audience’s a great show.”

Sadie Shoaf, co-director of Runaway Studios was simply impressed by the creativity of Maurer’s work. “I personally enjoyed Alyssa’s black and white photos because sometimes all of the colors in trash can be overpowering, and I felt the black and white photos were the strongest.” Shoaf added her appreciation of the extent Maurer took to add power to her presentation. “Alyssa overall added a lot of elements to her show, and this allowed her to expand even further into her world of ‘Trash Monsters.’”

When asked about what she was feeling during the show, she shared how surprisingly shocked she was. “I’ll tell you what, during the show, I was completely flabbergasted, and I couldn’t believe that it was happening.” However, looking back on her experience, Maurer remains extremely proud of herself. “Shows are really challenging in preparation, nerve racking in the wait, and unbelievable in completion, I think.” Her proudest moment? Having the opportunity to show her work and feel that people connected with it too. “I think that any outlet where people look at your work is an adrenaline rush. It made me realize how important my art is both to myself and others.”

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Allie Duda

Point Park

Allison (Allie) Duda is a sophomore Mass Communications major. She loves all aspects in the media, and hopes to dabble in all of it someday. In her free time, she enjoys going to museums, doing freelance photography work, spending time with loved ones, shopping, and watching tv/films. Check out her website at www.allisonduda.wordpress.com
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