Calvin photography professor Jennifer Hoag believes the ability to take what you are learning in an academic setting and “translate it to a real-world situation” is a helpful process.

Samaritas, a faith-based senior living home in Grand Rapids, approached Hoag because they sought new artwork for the walls in their memory care unit, which caters to residents in varying stages of dementia.

“What Samaritas hoped for were images that could help their residents navigate the hallways,” Hoag said. “I thought it sounded like a really interesting project for students to think about the function of their photographs rather than thinking of them strictly as art.”

In groups of four and five, students developed a theme for each of the facility’s hallways.

“It’s not often that I get to incorporate a service-learning aspect to the class,” Hoag said. “A lot of the photo assignments are very conceptually and technically driven and are not very collaborative. I loved the idea of having a collaborative project incorporated in the class and at the same time have students think about the function of the project.”

The 24 large prints of the students’ work were mounted and hung at Samaritas Senior Living Home earlier this year.