Dr. Lokuta’s photographs make it to the Governor’s residence


Lokuta copy

By Anthony Muccigrossi | Published on Dec. 10, 2015

Dr. Donald Lokuta, Professor of Photography at Kean University, is among nine photographers who were selected to photograph ‘Eighteen New Jersey Heroes’ for the exhibit, “Inspire: Everyday People Changing New Jersey,” at Drumthwacket, the governor’s official private residence in Princeton, according to a press release by the Office Of the Governor. Two of Lokuta’s photographs are currently being showcased.

“This new exhibit partners New Jersey Heroes and the Drumthwacket Foundation in celebrating the artistry of our Garden State photographers in capturing the essence of 18 amazing heroes,” said First Lady Mary Pat Christie.

According to the non-profit website, newjerseyheroes.org, an individual must be nominated to be considered for the award. The website also points out that each calendar year, about eight heroes are selected for the award.

Lokuta described the selection process as pairing each photographer with two individuals to photograph.

“None of these people were known to me, and I didn’t even know who the other photographers were that were also asked,” Lokuta said. “I was given a list and they asked me if I would choose three or four of those people, knowing that I would only get two.”

Among the 18 individuals and nine photographers, Lokuta was paired with Kate Dowd of Glassroots, Inc. in Newark, N.J. and Alan Weinstein of Community Soup Kitchen in Morristown, N.J.

“I wanted a visual photographic experience, of course, because photography is visual,” Lokuta said. “I didn’t want to do just a portrait of somebody against a white background.”

Speaking about the opening of the exhibit, Lokuta reflected on the opportunity for the photographers to walk around the exhibit with the First Lady and spoke about the work.

“Her background is not in the fine arts, but she seemed to understand exactly what was going on,” said Lokuta about the First Lady’s interaction with the photographers.

Lokuta described the project as being one where no profit was made. However, the photographers were given a budget and were reimbursed for the cost of printing the photographs, which Lokuta described as being as large as 30 by 40 inches.

All of the photographs in the exhibit were not in full color but rather black and white prints.

“If you’re focusing on the person, colors just get in the way sometimes,” said Lokuta, speaking about the emotional aspects of black and white photography.

While this was the first time Lokuta’s photographs were featured in Drumthwacket, his work has been featured in over 300 shows. Last semester, Lokuta’s work was featured at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the Rutgers University New Brunswick Campus. His exhibit, “George Segal in Black and White,” was on display from Feb. 14 to Jul. 31, 2015, according to the museum’s website

Among his many photography exhibits, Lokuta was awarded four prestigious New Jersey Council on the Arts Fellowship Awards, as well as 12 photography grants, according to his biography on his website. Lokuta’s biography also shows that prior to earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. he earned his B.A. Degree at Newark State College, which at the present time is Kean University.

The photography exhibit will be on display at Drumthwacket until July 27, 2016.  To visit the Governor’s official residence and see the photography exhibit up-close, you can make a reservation at Drumthwacket.org. The website states tours occur at 1:00p.m. on most Wednesdays.

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