Art Alumnus Wins National Attention for Photo
By Hannah Vongsavang
ammie Saxon is no stranger to a camera, but the Columbus-based professional photographer is more
used to the spotlight shining on his subjects.
That's changing for the 2006 Columbus State University art graduate, thanks to a photograph of his that's been selected as one of 10, among thousands submitted, as inspiration for upcoming films.
"I had been notified that I was a semifinalist, but I didn't think I was going to get that far," Saxon said.
Impressing such celebrities as actor Eva Longoria and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Saxon's Lost in Blue photo was named a winner in the Project Imaginat10n competition sponsored by Canon USA and Hollywood director Ron Howard.
The photo depicts a woman falling, bathed in blue as if underwater, her eyes closed and arms askew.
"I had this reoccurring dream that I was drowning," Saxon said. "It was just beautiful. I didn't want to wake up. So I tried to figure out how to do underwater photography even though I can't swim. Eventually I figured out a way to create that sensation of being underwater using lighting and baby powder."
Saxon credits friends who help on such shoots for contributing to his photo creation. Saxon also credits his Department of Art education. "I learned a lot," he said of his time at CSU.
Saxon heard about the inaugural Project Imaginat10n competition in 2011. Determined to participate in 2012, he submitted his photo in the Mood Category and, although learning he was a semifinalist, stayed busy with other projects until, one evening, he began receiving congratulatory messages on Facebook.
Longoria, best known for her role on TV's Desperate Housewives, mentioned in an interview that she had chosen his photo as an inspiration for her film project.
"I thought this beautifully captured the mood of what this person's going through," Longoria in a videotaped interview. "She's drowning, she's in trouble and that's just a rich place for us to draw story from."
Before the Internet chatter about Longoria's selection had died down, Saxon was surprised to learn that Stone, the Twitter co-founder, had also chosen Lost in Blue as an inspiration. He got official email confirmation a few days later. Lost in Blue was among photos selected by Howard and Canon and then put up for consumer vote. Winners from this group then were selected by the celebrity directors to inspire films expected to premiere at a special Project Imaginat10n Film Festival this summer.
As a CSU student, Saxon spent most of his time on main campus, before the art department relocated to the RiverPark campus. "I'm jealous," Saxon said with a chuckle. "Now the art department has everything I really wanted when I was a student."
From its bigger work and class spaces, as well as galleries, CSU's Corn Center for the Visual Arts has impressed Saxon.
Joe Sanders, CSU's Alan F. Rothschild Distinguished Chair of Art, shares Saxon's desire for the university to expand its graphic design course offerings.
"Sammie's achievements in such a short time period are remarkable, and we are particularly proud of his distinction," Sanders said. "(Saxon) will be pleased to hear that the department is developing new curriculum in digital media and design."
For more on Saxon and his photography, visit http://www.sammiesaxon. com. For more on CSU's Department of Art, visit http://ColumbusState. edu/art or call 706-507-8300 to learn about upcoming exhibitions or arrange for a tour.
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Lost in Blue, by Sammie Saxon.