Mechanical Engineering Major’s Award-Winning Photography Featured in New York City Exhibition
As an artist and a student of engineering, Eric Dillner ’25 draws inspiration from his curiosity about how the world works. His photography is now part of an exhibition in the Bronx, and he hopes his work inspires others to rethink how they see everyday objects.
September 30, 2021
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
When Eric Dillner ’25 walks down the street, he pays particular attention to shapes and angles. He notices details such as symmetry and imperfections in his surroundings. He is curious and eager to know how everything works.
A mechanical engineering major, Dillner says he sees the world a little bit differently. An award-winning artist, his curiosity and perspective inform his work as an engineer and inspire his passion for photography. His work, SixSquares, has gained national recognition and is now on display at Bronx Documentary Center in New York City.
“It means everything to me to have my art in the Bronx Documentary Center,” he said. “It is an amazing opportunity because it opens doors to have my work in future exhibits and strengthens my fire for photography. My goal is for my photos to emit a feeling that anyone can interpret in their own way through the shapes and composition.”
‘I wanted to push the limits…’
Dillner’s work was recognized in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, earning a gold key in the Connecticut region and a silver medal at the national level. He was among the fewer than 200 students selected to have their work featured in the exhibition. The awards celebrate teens’ creativity, both locally and nationally, and winners – such as Dillner – may also be chosen for scholarships, exhibitions, and publications.
Dillner’s SixSquares is a photogram (a photographic image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a light-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing it to light) featuring recycled waste from 3D printing. Dillner arranged the plastic scraps on top of light sensitive photographic paper, and he then exposed it to light several times to create the right half of his work. He then made an inverse copy of the original, creating what he calls a “yin and yang effect.”
“I wanted to push the limits of the photogram technique because it is usually seen as basic,” he explains. “My goal was to elevate the stylings of the technique.”
Experienced with macro digital photography, Dillner says SixSquares was his first experience with darkroom photography. He has also focused on rusting and decaying objects in his work, and he has dabbled in welding and creating metal sculptures. Now considering minoring in photography, he hopes to produce more art in the style of SixSquares.
“I like to take the lost and forgotten objects of the world and give them a new light,” he said. “I want to make people think about even the most forgotten object. It can be amazing if you look at it just the right way.”