“My picture is of me thinking. All I’m really thinking about is going to the dark room. But I chose my mind because I like my imagination.” So reads the inscription on a photograph by Brandon Mavins describing his favorite part of himself. This is just one of over 80 photographs on display in Light Work’s upcoming exhibition, Learning Through the Lens: Collaborations with Children at Edward Smith Elementary School, which explores the lives and visual imaginations of fourth and fifth grade Syracuse city school children. Also featured are images by Syracuse University photography students that examine the various facets of the school experience.
Inspired by Wendy Ewald’s ‘Literacy Through Photography’ project, in which the artist hands over cameras to children to explore how they think, this exhibition is the culmination of the efforts of an innovative course, Literacy, Community, and Photography, offered through the College of Visual and Performing Arts in cooperation with the Department of Fine Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences. Team-taught by Judith Meighan, Assistant Professor of the History of Art, and Doug DuBois, Assistant Professor of Art Photography, and working in collaboration with Mary Lynn Mahan, Art Teacher at Edward Smith Elementary School, the course brought perspectives from both academic and studio backgrounds to the classroom. This project demonstrates how a strong relationship between the arts and the basic school curriculum can promote writing as well as visual literacy among students. This pioneering course is the beginning of a long lasting partnership between the Syracuse City School District and Syracuse University and the first of many community-based courses offered.
This exhibition has been made possible by a grant from the Division of Student Affairs U Encounter program and through the generous sponsorship of the Soling Program, the Syracuse Symposium, The Orange Partnering Project in the College of Visual & Performing Arts through a Vision Fund grant, the College of Visual & Performing Arts, Light Work/Community Darkrooms, Syracuse City School District, and the Edward Smith Elementary School.