UM unsung heroes: Part 1
This creative project by campus photographer Mike Latschislaw features faces from around the U of M — some that we see on a daily basis but may not know too well, others who work behind the scenes to keep the U of M functioning and vibrant.
Latschislaw, who has an artistic photography practice outside of his daily work at U of M as an photographer in Audio Visual And Classroom Technology Support, says he had fun with these portraits and finding people who clean the halls or (wo)man the cash registers at the bookstore. He also had fun with the lighting and approach to the portraits — many of them are humourous, playing off cultural motifs (a Dragon’s Den ad for the catering staff photo); others symbolically represent the work done by their subjects (such as the background in the bookstore portrait, which melds binary code with first lines of great novels).
We asked him how he got started on the ‘unsung heroes’ project:
Latschislaw: I get to meet a lot of the great academic staff through functions and events I’m booked for, which is something I really enjoy about the job. I wanted to provide examples of different ways to light people in the studio, and I thought it would be cool to feature the “unsung heroes” you see in the halls of the U of M every day. For fun, I thought I’d shoot these photos as if they were being cast in a new television series you might see ads for.
How did you get into photography?
Latschislaw: I learned lighting while attending the Vancouver Film school. I picked up my first camera while living in Chicago and starting shooting rolls of film focusing on the great architecture there. It became a hobby while working as a character animator in film and television in L.A. and Montreal. The passion for photography replaced my interest in animation and I became a full-time photographer a few years before coming to the U of M.
Ed. note: The editors of UM Today wholeheartedly celebrate this creative project by campus photographer Mike Latschislaw — and we hope readers will too! Though playful in tone, “Unsung heroes” is a sincere tribute to the people photographed — and not only to them, but also to them as representative of the many support staff here who go above and beyond for the good of the wider university community.
A “hero” is “someone admired for their intelligence, abilities, or personal qualities.” We could add the word “contributions.” I believe that this is the sense in which Mike intended the name of the project.
I also believe that there are many others in the university community who would echo Mike’s sentiment — myself included. As editor of the UM Today website and of The Bulletin before this, I (along with my co-editor, Sean Moore) hear weekly from people at the university about many such “unsung” support staff and fellow co-workers. And while their actions may not fall into a narrow definition of the word “heroic” — their actions are often selfless and their personal qualities are admirable! And in this case the expression is meant as a heartfelt “thank you.”
— Mariianne Mays Wiebe
Who are the deserving U of M “unsung heroes” you could add to his roster?
>> Above: the series set of photos
>> Scroll down to see large images and some Q + As with the subjects.
Perry Clark, executive chef
What do you like best about your job? The people I work with.
How long have you been at the U of M? 2 years.
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? NASCAR driver.
Dean Duff, general manager, food services
What do you like best about your job? Being part of an incredible team that work for the benefit of the University community.
How long have you been at the U of M? 4 years
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? Pilot a Snowbird.
Maria Vieira, director, Conference & Catering Services
What do you like best about your job? Having the freedom to exercise my creativity, interacting with diverse clientele, my team and colleagues on a daily basis, but most of all; strive to ensure all of our university events have a positive outcome.
How long have you been at the U of M? 12 years.
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? Perform at a concert with Celine Dion and sing at the same caliber “My Heart Will Go On.”
Theo MacFarlane, assistant manager, UMSU Digital Copy Centre
What do you like best about your job? Finding solutions to the university clients’ printing needs, often within a limited time frame.
How long have you been at the U of M?
1995-1996 – student, Faculty of Science.
1988-1996 – student, Department of City Planning
1991-1988- employed part-time with UMSU
1988-present – full-time employment with UMSU
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? Community Planning & Development work for a squatter settlement in a Developing Country.
Thomas Blumer, manager, Degrees
What do you like best about your job? I Like the energy and interactions.
How long have you been at the U of M? 6 years.
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? Professional Tournament Angler.
Will Gibson, mathematics instructor/tutor, Extended Education (and other), and Sudoku puzzle creator for the Manitoban
What do you like best about your job? As a teacher, what I enjoy most is helping students understand mathematics. I like the moments when the light bulb comes on and I know that the student understands. I also like sharing their joy when they successfully pass their course.
How long have you been at the U of M? In 1973 I started studying computer science here at the U. of M. After graduating in 1982, I worked in the computer field until 1997. Then I returned to the U. of M. and obtained my 2nd degree, this time in mathematics. I have been doing various mathematical work since. My duties include teaching, tutoring, and research. I also make the Sudoku puzzles for the Manitoban newspaper using a computer program I created.
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? For about a decade I have worked at the U of M’s annual summer Math Camp for talented young mathematicians. My dream is to be able to work at such camps all year long. It is such a joy to educate eager young minds and to work with my talented and award-winning colleague Don Trim.