Jennifer Lisowski’s ninth-grade English class from Westchester Senior High recently enjoyed a visit to the exhibition Urban Panoramas: Opie, Liao, Kim with a special guide: photographer Soo Kim. The visit was part of Community Photoworks, a partnership between the Museum’s Education Department and 826LA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students with their creative and expository writing skills. Each year one lucky class gets to tour a photography exhibition, create their own photographs, and hold an exhibition of their work.
Playing off the Westchester class’s curriculum, the theme for the project was “Way Leads on to Way.” Students were asked to think about a journey they had taken that didn’t turn out as expected, and then reconstruct and photograph a scene that represents that journey.
The journey began with the visit to the exhibition. Kim led a discussion of her unusual photographs of Reykjavík, Iceland, which actually consist of two photographs layered on top of each other, with sections of the top layer cut out to reveal the bottom layer. She talked about her own journey to Iceland and how she intentionally chose to make her photographs during Iceland’s disorienting midnight sun. She then gave the students an overview of photography techniques and critiqued the practice photographs they took around the Getty Center.
The students left the Getty with disposable cameras to capture images representing their own journeys. The results range from the immigrant’s journey to America, the high school student’s journey to college, and everyone’s journey just to get up and out the door each morning. Working with 826LA volunteers, students wrote artist statements detailing the story behind their photographs, which were published in the exhibition catalogue (which you can download here).
“I took this picture while standing in my room, looking out at the houses through my window,” said student Nicholas Reese about the photo below. “My picture shows that the world does not just consist of me; I am one of a million.”
The exhibition, Way Leads on to Way, is on view through this Thursday, May 20, at University Hall on Loyola Marymount University’s campus.
826LA is part of the 826 network of tutoring, writing, and publishing organizations founded by writer Dave Eggers. With two locations in Los Angeles, the centers provide drop-in after school tutoring, field trips, weekend workshops, in-school book projects—and projects like Community Photoworks, which show that writing can be a personal journey.