Photo professor leaves negatives behind for positive teaching


Kendall Brescia

Alice Shaw and her Student Sarah Reblando, look at film negatives at the light table on Nov. 18.

Tyler Elmore, Managing Editor

When you hear Alice Shaw critiquing her students’ photography you’ll hear things like,“Wow! That looks great! Look how weird that looks!”

Students are constantly pushing the limits of traditional black-and-white images with different types of developing and creative ways to take photographs.

To fit with the black and white photography theme, she is almost always wearing gray, but don’t let the color choice fool you. Shaw is one of the most colorful professors at Diablo Valley College.

A Bay Area native, Shaw grew up with parents who were both artists, her father a ceramic artist and her mother is a painter and a print maker.

“I started photographing when I was 15,” she says. “So it has been a long time.”

She earned both her BFA and MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. She now teaches film photography there.

Although she doesn’t have a preference, she says she really likes teaching at DVC because she gets to meet people from all different walks of life.

She has made a lot of friends just from being their teacher.

Shaw’s energy when you walk into class is so vibrant it gets everyone ready for the day.

Tomy Gates is taking his second class with Shaw this semester and it having a lot of fun.

“She is very helpful,” he says. “Whenever I think I know everything there is to know about photography, she always comes with something new.”

Class often starts with going through other people’s work for inspiration, whether it is professionals or other students.

Recently, she showed the class a blog called “Craigslist Mirrors.” Someone took all of the pictures that people post of craigslist for listings of mirrors and compiled them into a blog. Some of them were completely hysterical but Shaw challenged the class to look for the beauty in the images.

Besides photography, Shaw also paints and does conceptual art.

Norma Parker, a former student says her favorite exhibit she has seen of Shaw’s wasn’t even photography. “She traced her hand and then someone read something while she did it,” Parker says. “It was really interesting.”

“I think Alice is more of an intellectual artist,” Parker says. “She really thinks things out, nothing is just there.”

Shaw has had art shows in New York, Israel and San Francisco. She has even had a piece shown in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“It was fun to go to Israel,” Shaw says. “It was so far away and different, I really liked it.”

Aside from just art, Shaw travels a lot.

“I went to art school with all these different people, and a lot of them moved back (to where they were from), and now I have these friends all over everywhere.” Although she gets to visit them, she says they often want to come stay with her here because they miss the Bay Area.

Shaw’s next show will take place at Gallery 16 in San Francisco.

She will be showing her “Golden State” collection, which is black and white images with gold leaf, painted on them.

Until her show debuts you can find her up in the very top of the art building, creating golden memories for more and more students.