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March 3, 2020

At Saginaw Art Museum exhibition, SVSU student's photography puts trauma in focus

Cecil, DanielleA Saginaw Valley State University student's photographic exploration of childhood trauma and adult PTSD will be on display beginning today at The Saginaw Art Museum.
Danielle Cecil, a fine arts major from Plymouth, will see her collection — titled “On Thin Ice: Therapy Through Photography” — on exhibition through Saturday, May 30 in the Artisan Wing of the museum at 1126 N. Michigan in Saginaw.
The exhibition consists of 11 black and white framed photographs taken by Cecil’s lens.
”This is the first time a series of mine is being shown somewhere other than SVSU, and I feel lucky that I was asked to participate,” Cecil said.
For her pieces, Cecil used an arrangement of found objects to represent the childhood trauma that led to her later diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
"Individually printing each image from a film negative not only allows Danielle to communicate her experiences to the public but also opens up an avenue of self-reflection," reads the museum's introduction to the exhibition.
The resulting images were created using unique equipment. Hideki Kihata, SVSU professor of art, said Danielle used a type of camera that few young professional photographers know how to use. For these pieces, Cecil operated a 4x5 view camera, which Kihata said is only used by the “top, cutting-edge photographers.”
Benn Quinno, exhibitions manager and curatorial assistant with the Saginaw Art Museum, said it is not common to have a student exhibition at the museum, and that they are a very important part of being a professional artist.
“Every exhibition an artist participates in — be it a solo, group or juried exhibiting — will appear on an artist’s curriculum vitae or artist résumé,” he said. “This can tell a curator or exhibition manager how experienced an artist is in the exhibition world and how relevant their work is to the public.”
Quinno said Cecil’s pieces were chosen because of the topic they covered.
“The work was selected because of the way she chose to use photography to address mental illness and PTSD, a subject that has a history of being ignored,” he said. “We felt it was important to not only address this type of work but to also support our local community, being that the Artisan Wing is dedicated to exhibiting local art.”
Cecil plans to graduate with a bachelor's of fine arts with a concentration in photography in May. After graduation, she hopes to find a full-time position doing commercial photography for a business in Michigan.
For more information about the exhibition, visit
The Saginaw Art Museum hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. The facility is closed Sundays and Mondays.
Admission costs $5 for adults, and $3 for students and senior citizens 62 and older. Attendees aged 15 and younger can enter the museum for free