Polaroid exhibit captures nostalgic feel

A MOMENT IN TIME: Susan Mikula demonstrates her vision of nostalgia through her new    Polaroid photo exhibit at La Sierra University. (Photo by Michael Walter)

A MOMENT IN TIME: Susan Mikula demonstrates her vision of nostalgia through her new Polaroid photo exhibit at La Sierra University. (Photo by Michael Walter)

Patricia Mejia | Staff Writer

About two weeks ago, Polaroid pictures were just old pictures of embarrassing moments at Christmas parties and  funny outfits I wore as a kid.

Today, Polaroid pictures shine the light on a new embodiment of art. Through the lens of a Polaroid camera, artist Susan Mikula reinvents the definition of what our memories associate to Polaroid pictures.

Susan Mikula, a 52 year old photographer from Massachusetts does not photograph the way an average photographer would.

Exploring the possibilities and results of instant photography, Mikula does more than snap photos of  miscellaneous subjects.

Made out to seem like “memories,” she dedicates her photography career solely to Polaroid cameras and film.

“Polaroid’s were what happened at holidays or birthdays, and every family had one.

“They were accessible and it was the only instant photography of the time, and people got very excited. The picture would come out and you would see it develop.It was really magical. Like a little bit of magic that you could have in the house,” said Mikula.

Inspired by fond memories of family gatherings during special events, Susan Mikula showcases her art with nostalgia to present a variety of subjects.

Although the discontinuation of Polaroid film for some time made it hard to come across, Mikula managed to make it through the scarcity.

“Before they stopped making Polaroid film completely they stopped in the United States.

The last place, which I believe was in Mexico and Europe, and was (stopped) in 2009,” said Mikula.

“I did stockpile enough. It’s a limited quantity, and it is not going to move forward. Sometimes I can find some on Ebay that isn’t crazily overpriced. Sometimes people send me some.”

In her most recent exhibit “American Bond,” Susan photographs a variety of docks and oil refineries in California, Texas, Louisiana and Massachusetts.

Susan Mikula’s photography showcases vast research and knowledge.

“Because the film is so dear and hard to find, I frontload the work. Meaning, I really look at these sites ahead of time. Deeply look at them, to understand what I want to show. I look at the times of day. The film reacts differently at different times of day because the light is at a different angle.”

She makes it her purpose to capture and focus on the beauty of our industrial landscape.

“It is about our memory, us as a country. Us, working people. I like to explore these sites, they are really moving to me.”

Taking a sentimentally patriotic approach through her photography Mikula snaps images that capture not just our attention, but our recollection of time.

American Bond will be featured at the La Sierra University Brandstater Gallery in Riverside through October 30.