Art, Education, Photographs, Film, and Video

Time to Focus: Community Photoworks 2013

Student photo by Jesus Martinez

Photo by student Jesus Martinez

The Getty Museum’s Education Department has again teamed up with 826LA for Community Photoworks, a program that teaches photography techniques to students, coaches them in writing artist statements, and offers them an opportunity to exhibit their work to the public. This year, 42 ninth-grade students from Room 13 Los Angeles at James A. Foshay Learning Center, a student-managed and financed art studio, were asked to raise their cameras high and photograph Los Angeles’s distinctive architecture.

Acting as a mentor and technical guide, artist Camilo Jose Vergara led students on an exploratory mission, first around their own school and then at the Getty Center. At the school, Vergara presented his work, which focuses on poor and segregated areas of cities across the U.S., documenting changes over decades in the built environment. Students also learned about tools for examining photographs, and principles that are used by photographers to create images, including line, shape, color, composition and form. After the discussion with Vergara, students practiced photographing streets and architecture, including the photogenic storefront signs that make the L.A. cityscape so famous.

Students take pictures around their neighborhood

Students take pictures around their neighborhood

Then, during a visit to the Getty Center, students got more creative inspiration by touring the exhibition Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990 with Vergara and curator Christopher Alexander. They then set out across the Center with cameras in hand.

Students listen to Camilo Jose Vergara at Overdrive exhibition

Students listen to Camilo Jose Vergara at Overdrive exhibition

Students recognize models and blueprints of familiar architectural landmarks at the Overdrive exhibition

Students recognize models and blueprints of familiar architectural landmarks at the Overdrive exhibition

Shots of the architecture, art, and awesome views of the city and coast were just a few of their subjects:

Students take photos at the Getty Center

Students take photos at the Getty Center

Students snapped photos high and low, and some got a bird’s-eye view:

Student perched on a balcony, looking for that perfect shot

Student perched on a balcony, looking for that perfect shot

The students told me a little bit about their experience:

I like how you can take pictures of the same building but viewed from different angles. It gives a different perspective and meaning to the image. – Kimberly Mejia, 9th grade

I learned how to focus on the image I take. I learned not to rush taking the picture, capture the moment when you think it’s ready. – Salvador Salinas, 9th grade

I love taking pictures of architectural building in L.A. It helps me view buildings differently and relate them to art. – Deborah Lopez, 9th grade

Their teacher, John Midby, told me that the Community Photoworks program exposes future artists to more than just digital photography. “It has broadened the way they look at Los Angeles and the implications of its architecture economically and emotionally,” said Midby. “Also, collaborating with the Getty staff and 826LA volunteers is very important in building their knowledge and confidence as artists.”

The student photographs will be on display in C O M M U N I TeYe on L.A. Architecture, an exhibition opening on May 23 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the offices of TBWA\Chiat\Day, at 5353 Grosvenor Blvd. in Los Angeles. Student work and artist statements are also included in a print catalogue and student artwork can be viewed here.

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      I do not like crooked, twisted, blasted trees. I admire them much more if they are tall, straight, and flourishing. I do not like ruined, tattered cottages. I am not fond of nettles or thistles, or heath blossoms. I have more pleasure in a snug farm-house than a watch-tower—and a troop of tidy, happy villages please me better than the finest banditti in the world.”

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      Wooded Landscape by Paulus Lieder and Landscape with a Bare Tree and a Ploughman by Leon Bonvin, The J. Paul Getty Museum; Fantastic Oak Tree in the Woods, Carl Wilhelm Kolbe the Elder, The Getty Research Institute

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