CONTENT WARNING: This story includes references to sexual abuse and mental health challenges. If you need resources or support around these issues' help is available – call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
The Bundaberg community will face up to some big emotions' as a new photography exhibition challenges CQUniversity Bachelor of Digital Media students to put empathy and vulnerability into the frame.
Exploring emotions through the lens is the second instalment of the exhibition' which started in 2021 in partnership with local mental health initiative - headspace.
The new exhibition is a collaboration between CQUniversity' the Regional Arts Services Network' the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland' and the Bundaberg Regional Council.
The free exhibition' which opens on Saturday (25 June) at Bundaberg's School of Arts' poses the question: "Emotions pass like time' dissipating into thin air unnoticed and often times unspoken… (but if) emotion became visibly clear' how would it feel?"
The seven participants are preparing their photographic pieces with the guidance of local photographer and artist Sabrina Lauriston' with a series of masterclasses held across June.
Bundaberg student Amber Christensen has produced a series of moving black and white portraits for the exhibition' including an explosive image titled Outburst.
"I wanted to do something that I knew a lot about. Mental health issues are something that people around me have been through' and myself too'" Amber said.
"I've struggled with eating disorders my whole childhood' and had experience of sexual assault' and depression – it's good to be able to speak out and show what people go through.
"I hope when people see my works' it helps them have the confidence to ask people around them' 'are they okay?' or ask it of themselves."
With a love of photography inspired by her grandparents at just 12 years old' Amber is starting her own photography business' and has developed a passion for digital design through the degree.
It's the talented 20-year-old's second year participating' after she began her Bachelor of Digital Media studies in 2021' gaining entry through the STEPS program in 2020.
Indigenous student Jasmin Minniecon also took on her Bachelor of Digital Media this year after completing STEPS' and is participating for the first time.
Her studies follow three years as a dump truck operator in the mining industry' and the proud Gooreng Gooreng woman said she planned to create a new career with her digital arts skills.
"I've always had a passion for graphic design' and I want to start an online business and work with small and Indigenous businesses'" she said.
"The photography project is really interesting – I was nervous at first' but it's great to get Sabrina's advice about creating emotions in an image' and I'm discovering myself in the art too."
Jasmin said her passion for storytelling was linked to her Indigenous culture and family experiences.
"We spend a lot of time yarning up' telling stories – and my work for this exhibition is focused on nostalgia'" she said.
"I'm one of those people who enjoy memories' and I grew up in Bundaberg and have a lot of happy memories about the place."
CQUniversity lecturer and project coordinator Regina John Luan said it was exciting to see how students had developed technically and creativity in response to the year-on-year challenges.
"The work challenges the students to consider and speak openly about mental health' and often that has the most impact through art' where we communicate something unheard'" she said.
"Students are challenged to step outside their comfort zones' research their surroundings and its elements of hidden emotions and emotions that they cannot explain' and then use their findings to produce an artistic expression of their findings.
"True art come from the artist's own journey' and the same can be said for true change in our society."
Exploring emotions through the lens will be held at the School of Arts' at 184 Bourbong Street in Bundaberg' and is open from 25 June 2022 to 1 July 2022' 10am to 3pm daily.
If you're a CQUniversity student in need of support' visit https://www.cqu.edu.au/student-life/new-students/student-support to connect with counselling and other services.
CQUniversity staff and their family members can seek support via CQUniversity's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Call to make an appointment on 1800 816 152.