Pioneering start in a prep kitchen
Flash back to 1972, the year the Community Darkrooms was founded. The nation was at odds, caught up in the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War abroad and social unrest at home. Events rattled the nation's psyche more than ever before, thanks to the compelling imagery of video, television, and photography. Realizing the power of these media, students sought to add their own voices to the mix, an alternative to the mainstream. "The idea of being able to control and make images was very powerful," Hoone says. "There was no student center on campus, and students wanted a media center they could run on their own outside the academic parameters of the University."




      Under the auspices of the University Union, a group of students led by Phil Block '73 and Tom Bryan '71 petitioned the University for a media center that would allow them access to photography and television equipment. The University approved the project and gave the group space in what was then a dining hall. The prep kitchen became the Community Darkrooms, a photographic facility that Block and Bryan pioneered, opening it to students and the community through a nominal membership fee.
      David Broda '74, who calls himself the "oldest living Community Darkrooms member still in Syracuse," remembers the early seventies as a time when photography was reinvigorated as the works of noted artists like Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, and Dorothea Lange captivated a new generation. "That's what hooked us," says Broda, now a photographer with the University's Photo and Imaging Center who continues to assist Light Work and the darkrooms. "Across the nation there was a real trend for people getting into the arts to start working in the fine art photography area."The Community Darkrooms became a true community, a vibrant gathering place for people who shared this interest. "We basically lived there," says Broda, who studied photojournalism and worked part-time at the darkrooms. "A group of us was completely immersed in photography. We'd be in there printing and showing each other photographs; we fed off each other. There was an incredible dedication-everyone was so self-motivated, interested, and wanted to learn. That's really the environment that created it all."



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