Paris is an inspirational city.
For Erin Grimson, a senior in the College Scholars Program, her study abroad in Paris last spring gave her an up close and personal look into the French culture. She experienced all the wonders the city and its people had to offer through the lens of her camera.
In Paris, Grimson would take part of everyday French life, like shopping at the local market and living in a cozy, Parisian apartment. She captured these fragments of everyday life in her photography.
"I carried just this 35-millimeter film camera with me everywhere I went," Grimson said. "It was with me every day."
Grimson drew inspiration from Swiss photographer, Robert Frank, who drove across the U.S. photographing scenes of American culture.
"That's kind of what I'm doing, but as an American abroad," Grimson said.
Grimson's Parisian photography will be displayed in an exhibition at the Birdhouse Gallery Friday night. The majority of the photos are black and white film showcasing street style, but she also features digital color portraits in her exhibition.
The exhibition is Grimson's thesis project for the College Scholars program.
College Scholars is an interdisciplinary honors program in the College of Arts and Sciences; it is also the oldest honors program at UT. Grimson first came to UT to study studio art, but she realized early on that she would rather pursue photography. With the College Scholars program, Grimson was able to form her own curriculum and degree – interdisciplinary photography with emphasis on French language and culture.
Grimson combined photography, anthropology and French language and culture to form her specialized curriculum.
The classes she took at UT prepared her for her time abroad and the cultural differences she would undoubtedly face.
"My program prepared me for that, because the work that I produced is all about people," Grimson said. "It's all about culture and lifestyles that I observed.
"French language and culture, those were my tools to navigate me through everyday life."
In high school, Grimson had taken a few photography classes, but it wasn't until she started at UT that she knew it was her calling.
"I've always had an interest in it," Grimson said. "The chance to study it and make a major out of it kind of gave me the confidence to pursue it."
Grimson admitted that she felt out of place her first two years at UT. College Scholars gave her a sense of belonging and a boost in her confidence.
"I can't stress how it completely changed my experience at the university," Grimson said about the program. "Anyone that feels that they have a need that the university's predetermined majors aren't able to meet should chase after College Scholars."
Jeffrey Kovac, Director of College Scholars, states the program was beneficial to Grimson's education.
"She has been able to concentrate on photography while at the same time taking courses in other areas that enrich her artistic perspective," Kovac said.
After graduation in May, Grimson plans to continue on with photography.
Having a particular interest in portraits, Grimson hopes to work for a publication or magazine where she can do profile work.
"I'm definitely going to keep up with it," she said. "Once you learn the discipline, it's something that becomes something you're always doing, it's a constant, ongoing project."