Photo III explores rock n’ roll through art

As visual arts teacher Kevin O’Malley slowly walked through the “Who Shot Rock and Roll” photography exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography, one image immediately captured his attention.

It was Pennie Smith’s black and white photograph of bass guitarist Paul Simonon smashing his Fender Precision Bass against the stage during the “Clash Take the Fifth” US tour on Sept. 21, 1979, shot on O’Malley’s birthday when he had just started teaching at the Westlake School for Girls. Q Magazine named O’Malley’s favorite photograph the best rock and roll photo of all time.

“As a 20th century student, it was like a walk down memory lane for me,” O’Malley said. “Or as the Rolling Stones would say, ‘It’s been a lonely night at the Memory Motel.’”

O’Malley and his seven students from Photography III visited the exhibit during their class trip on Oct. 3. O’Malley noticed that the crowd was mainly students or baby boomers.

“I had a lot of fun at the trip and I thought it was a nice break from school,” Maddie Lear ’13 said. ” I especially loved a film that they showed about a musician, because I thought it was put together really well.”

The trip was organized to help the students connect as a class and to help them get inspiration for their new project, taking photos of student musicians on stage and in the studio. These photographs will be displayed in the upcoming exhibition, “Musicians in performance.”

O’Malley said that they are trying to arrange for the musicians in the photographs to perform during the opening.

“This trip definitely helped me realize that there is so much to do with our project,” Seana Moon-White ’13 said. “There are so many moments when an artist is on stage that a photographer can capture.”

The trip ended after the class went to Century City to see ceramics teacher John Luebtow’s fountain “Venus Vitae,” featured in O’Malley’s documentary.

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