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“Artistic Eye” Project

Today’s world is one of Global Diversity. Children’s neighborhoods are much larger than they might first appear and the importance of understanding each other across oceans, bridges, freeways and even streets has never been more necessary or possible. The evolution of art media in the 21st century has opened up a world of possibilities as we embark on a journey to provide young people with the opportunity to learn photography while engaging with notions of culture, community and identity. The artistic eye is a universal perspective that is uniquely authentic to each individual. When developed properly, it can become the basis for a process of understanding that allows people of many worlds to recognize and appreciate the humanity in others.

The essence of this project is young people and photography- utilizing artistic reflections in developing a sense of creative expression and self-understanding while inducing cultural exchange between economic and culturally diverse students locally as well as internationally.

Our pilot program will take place in Cape Town, South Africa working with groups of young people ages 8-13. Each group will be carefully chosen from local public schools from contrasting communities in and around Cape Town. To begin, we will be working with two groups of students simultaneously on projects with a universally interconnected theme. Family, by blood or association, is a powerful topic that we believe most students can identify with and are sensitive to, regardless of cultural or economic affiliations. In this process they will be guided through their own creative minds in discovering the differences as well as the similarities of experiences between themselves, their peers and unknown others.

The pitch for this project is, “Me and My Neighborhood”. With this subject in mind, students will be provided with their own compact digital camera and asked to reflect photographically on the following questions: “What is my home and who is my family?” as well as, “What do I like about my neighborhood and what do I dislike about my neighborhood?” “What would I change and what would I keep the same?” We will teach a variety of techniques necessary to empower students to effectively create images that reflect their answer to these questions.

In a world of instant images learning to create and read images helps young people slow down and consider what is really represented in the barrage of impressions that continue to define how we see each other. By turning the lens on the people and places closest to them, they are offered the opportunity to represent what is most important to them and share the same experience with other people representing vastly different notions of culture, community and identity.

This project will provide students with access to resources as well as a basic platform of skills and understanding to compose photographs telling their own story, in their own way. Through a variety of creative assignments and practice, students will learn the basics of composition, lighting, subject, digital editing and how to best identify a successfully conceived and executed photograph. Students will also discover the magic of exhibiting their work; the feeling of being a young artist and having their stories and perspectives acknowledged and appreciated.

Most importantly, this project is dedicated to creating a positive learning environment for young people to express themselves artistically. As leaders, we are focused on sharing our passion, knowledge and experience with those that may not have the resources or foundation of understanding to have such a dream as being a photographer, let alone achieve it. To provide young people with this opportunity is to inspire such passion in individuals that their stories can be told without compromise. We are not focused so much on teaching the technicalities of photography as much as providing a platform for students to acknowledge and develop their own inner creativity by telling their own story as seen through their artistic eye. This eye sees with unbounded sincerity, manifesting a sense of freedom with the ability to transcend any form of socially constructed stigma and acquired self-degradation.

Creativity exists within the individual; it is as real as our hearts. Photography is simply one tool that is used to express this truth and it will be taught to inspire confidence and leave the students proud of their accomplishments with the means to continue telling stories with the same veracity and candor to their subject as they have towards themselves.