Arts and Entertainment | Art

Barnard students pick faces out of the crowd

  • STRIKE A POSE | A new initiative based on the photography blog Humans of New York, Faces of Barnard aims to capture personalities on campus.

There is always a moment when you recognize a face from your chemistry class or the dining hall, but you have never stopped to get to know the person behind it. A new initiative called Faces of Barnard seeks to give meaning to these passing faces.

Among a slew of new campus-based Facebook pages, including Columbia Compliments, Columbia Admirers, and Columbia Fantasies, Faces of Barnard stands out for its artistic angle—Faces of Barnard features original photographs of students, faculty, and visitors on the Barnard campus. But the project is not limited to Barnard grounds—it also includes Columbia University and the surrounding community.

“This website will allow us to build a library of the faces,” said Mia Cooper, BC ’14 and one of the project’s organizers. Cooper, Ayelet Pearl, BC ’14 and a Spectator deputy photo editor, and Malvina Kefalas, BC ’14, headed the three Student Government Association committees that initiated the project. The three joined project chair Ana Bautista, BC ’14, to create and manage the website.

“It will be a special album that will capture the image of our campus,” she added.

Photographers look for anything that strikes them as representing Barnard and the community, and then obtain consent before snapping the photo. The identities of the photographers are not widely known, making their appearances spontaneous and the moments they capture authentic, organizers explained.

The first photo captures a security guard sitting in the booth at the front gates of Barnard, one of the many people on campus who students see every day but may know nothing about.

“It’s meant to give a more inside look with the people you interact with day to day,” Pearl said, including a member of Facilities and Barnard’s Head of Leadership Development.

Since its first post on Nov. 27, the page has gained over 470 likes. The page gained over 100 fans within over an hour of its launch, according to the page. By the end of the day, it surpassed 300 likes.

“It’s AWESOME,” one commenter wrote. “Love the concept.”

Faces of Barnard is based on the popular photography blog Humans of New York, which “provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City,” according to its website. But Faces of Barnard is a more intimate project that seeks to build a sense of community and acknowledge people on a more personal level—their viewers are meant to regognize the people that they feature.

“It’s not just about showing people for the sake of looking at them,” Pearl said. “It’s really for the sake of giving your experiences here with people deeper meaning.”

Faces of Barnard’s founders distinguish the project from Humans of New York because it aims to reveal the extraordinary qualities of each person, instead of extraordinary people. The organizers hope to do this in the future by including a follow-up interview with some of the subjects that gives a glimpse into their personalities and “a better sense of who the individual is.”

“We want to highlight the fact that everyone is unique and everyone has a story to tell,” Kefalas said. “The goal is to really tell a story at Barnard.”


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Anonymous posted on

You keep on saying you add depth to the faces we see daily, but you really don't. Why not put something interesting and personal in the captions besides just the location/current action ... I want to see their aspirations, why they're here, their most unique accomplishment, or something else that makes them special. Anyone can sip coffee outside the Diana or study outside, that doesn't tell me their story.

Other than that, I've been following you closely and I'm pretty excited for this project. Kudos on the initiative!

Anonymous posted on

Thanks for the feedback! We've been working on that (hopefully you've seen our interview with Joseph Ford III that was posted a couple of weeks ago, and the increasingly detailed captions) and will be pursuing this aspect of the project much more next semester.

Anonymous posted on

99 Columbians is an awesome and inspirational project, but Faces of Barnard is actually quite different. Our focus is not only on students but everyone who makes up the Barnard/Columbia experiences - our most popular post yet was one of a Barnard security guard! For a fuller picture, you should check out the mission statement on our Facebook page.