Off the clock

Faculty endeavors outside the School of Management

Developing a love for photography

By Kevin Manne

With family all around the world, photography is how Katerina Bezrukova, associate professor of organization and human resources, keeps in touch.

Though she doesn’t remember the moment she snapped her first photo, she does remember the moment she wanted to make it her hobby.

“I was at a conference in Australia and one of the kangaroos decided to give me a ‘hug,’” she says. “One of my colleagues took that picture, and that’s when I realized how many cool things you can do with photography.”

When Bezrukova’s first child, Anthony, was born, her husband bought her a semiprofessional Cannon camera and told her, “If you want good pictures, do it right.”

“Since then I’ve been mostly photographing children, their activities or their art,” she says. “I also enjoy capturing images of nature, like shells, leaves, trees, flowers and butterflies.”

Bezrukova says the hobby stays interesting because photography is a combination of art, technical skill and problem-solving.

“Children and are very dynamic — they run, jump and are constantly in flux,” she says. “I like the challenge that comes with this in different light conditions. It forces me to experiment with different settings and constantly learn ways to make better photos.”

She says that while it’s hard to pick a favorite out of all the moments she’s captured, one image of her daughter, Maria, stands out in particular.

“I took that picture when we had our last snow storm in April,” Bezrukova says. “Maria decided to climb the tree in our front yard, and I took the photo as she was just about to jump into a snow pile. It was a lot of fun.”

Against the grain

By Matthew Biddle

It all started with a birdhouse.

For Jerry Newman, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus, his love of woodworking began three decades ago with a simple birdhouse, though he didn’t seriously take up the hobby until he began considering retirement.

By the time he retired from the School of Management, Newman had a basic set of tools, including a table saw, scroll saw and band saw. He started by making simple breadboards for family and friends, and eventually branched out to more intricate designs and other projects, like cheese cutters.

“Then my daughter said, ‘Would you build me a dining room table?’” Newman recalls. “That’s a leap up from a breadboard, believe me.”

After a bit of trial and error, Newman successfully built her a table and has continued to expand his repertoire — and workshop — from there. In his daughter’s house, you’ll find several “Newman originals,” including a library table, end table and hutch. And in Newman’s own home and garden, you’ll find several pieces that showcase his woodworking skills and his newest passion: stained glass.

Two years ago, he approached Sister Ann Therese Kelly, a renowned stained glass artist, and asked her to teach him her craft. Since then, he’s also learned how to create fused glass and has made several framed art pieces for his garden, along with a beautiful water feature that includes two wooden planters and a waterfall that runs over a stained glass depiction of a lighthouse and beach scene.

“I’ve always been creative, even in the subjects I chose for my research,” Newman says. “But I’ve never been a patient person — that’s one reason I was a good teacher. If I was boring myself, I’d do something differently to engage my students. Through woodworking, I’ve become more patient.”

Newman’s latest project is a dining room table for his sister, who lives in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Made from cherry, redheart and wenge, the table will feature a cutout in the center, where Newman will insert a stained glass piece depicting a mountain sunset in vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow. The art will be backlit by LED lights mounted like candy dots on a strip underneath the glass, a device he’s working on with another local craftsman.

“This is my magnum opus,” Newman says. “And I think she’s going to like it — that’s most important to me.”