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As light streams through the windows of the New Dorm café, Penny’s, stu­dents flip through pages of homework, laugh with the baristas, and admire the student dis­plays on the wall.

Though estab­lished recently, Penny’s has quickly become a campus favorite for studying and chatting, and the student art on its walls — paintings and pho­tographs — add a more per­sonal touch, according to junior and Head Res­ident Assistant Annie Ingham.

“It’s just really cool that stu­dents get to be rep­re­sented,” Ingham said. “I have friends that have their artwork up, and it’s really neat to admire their work and see it dis­played because I wouldn’t get to oth­erwise.”

The nine pieces on Penny’s walls were created by sophomore Mary Car­oline Whims, juniors Joanna Dell, Sienna Mckinley, Abigail Teska, and Emma Trist, and seniors Ethan Greb, Madeline Barry, Emilia Heider, and Nicole Ault. While some pieces, like Dell’s and Greb’s, are pho­tog­raphy, others like Teska’s are col­orful paintings, and Whims and Mckinley use water­color, pen, and ink.

Sophomore and Cre­ative Manager of Penny’s Car­oline Hen­nekes said though the artwork is diverse, they all portray “mean­ingful and reflective, thought-pro­voking images.”

“Having art from various stu­dents is a small way to display the talents of our fellow stu­dents, and cel­e­brate those trea­sures, opening the eyes of cus­tomers to beauty in ways in addition to a delight­fully foamy latte,” Hen­nekes said in an email. “It also gives a sort of seri­ousness and uniqueness to Penny’s, that we are not only a coffee shop, but a gallery and a place to pursue and cel­e­brate that beauty. It is a space to come be refreshed and reminded of the unique cama­raderie of our pursuit as life-long seekers and learners — and some­times you need other peers and artists to show that to you.”

Dell, whose photo “Hillsdale in Autumn” shows downtown Hillsdale in the fall, said it was an oppor­tunity to rep­resent the city.

“Espe­cially with Penny’s just starting up, I thought it could be a really neat oppor­tunity to just show a dif­ferent side to campus,” Dell said. “I would just carry around my camera last fall and my backpack and … I would pull it out and shoot some film.”

Dell got into pho­tog­raphy at a young age and started car­rying a camera around when she was 11 or 12 years old. She said she probably first got into it because her sister was an art major with a pho­tog­raphy emphasis, but now she does wedding pho­tog­raphy as a job. She did her first wedding pho­to­shoot when she was 15, and said she has espe­cially enjoyed pho­tographing Hillsdale couples.

“I wouldn’t say I really have a style,” Dell said. “I always have really tried to strike a balance between natural and genuine, like candids, but also show­casing very tra­di­tional poses.”

Dell said a lot of her passion with pho­tog­raphy goes in hand with her love of trav­eling abroad.

“I went to Europe, and I only took my film camera,” Dell said. “When I sent those films in to be processed and I got them all back, that was really neat. I was just kind of able to relive all my travels.”

Some pieces explore the world beyond Hillsdale. Greb, whose photo “Weighed on Scales” is of Grand Teton Park in Wyoming, said he took the photo while driving through Wyoming with his dad and brother.

“We pulled off the side of the road just because it was so beau­tiful,” he said. “I wanted to capture it because, growing up in Michigan, you don’t really see snow on top of moun­tains in the middle of July. Seeing snow in the middle of July is kind of cool.”

He said he nor­mally does por­trait work in pho­tog­raphy because he likes working with people and cap­turing their emo­tions, but he liked the oppor­tunity to see the beauty of the West.

“I would just encourage people to go out West,” he said. “Because I grew up in the city and then went to the extreme other end of the spectrum, it just made the effect so much more greater.”

While Dell’s and Greb’s dis­plays are focused on cap­turing beauty through a lens, Teska chose a dif­ferent medium: oil painting. Teska said oil painting is her favorite because it is a “for­giving medium.” One memory that is special to her was painting a piece for her grand­father, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

“I wanted to make a painting that reminded him of some­thing that was really important to him,” she said. “He served in World War II and I did a painting of his destroyer ship and gave it to him, and he felt that it was special.”

For the wall of Penny’s, she chose another nau­tical subject. Her painting of a light­house on a cliff, “A Beacon of Hope,” is her way of sharing her love of art with others, Teska said.

“I’m always inspired by light­houses and water and seascapes,” Teska said. “I really like to show color and how color works in nature.”

Ingham said the dis­plays brighten up the dullness of the gray walls, making Penny’s more wel­coming to the campus. 

“It just made it more of a home and a wel­coming place,” Ingham said. “And it’s cool that stu­dents get to be rep­re­sented.”