I came across this fascinating story about photography, education, and place in The New York Times recently, entitled “Capturing the Beauty of Everyday Life in the Bronx.” The essay talks about a new photography exhibit that showcases a 20-year partnership between the International Center of Photography and the Point, a community organization based in the Bronx:
For two decades, hundreds of young people have learned analog photography through a partnership between the Point, a community group in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, and the International Center of Photography. This community, whose 6,000 residents live on a peninsula cut off from the rest of the borough by the Bruckner Expressway, has had its resilience tested by nature — like Hurricane Sandy — and man-made disasters like abandonment, crime and, now, gentrification. But the young photographers who have come up through this program — more than 2,000 so far — have devoted themselves to presenting a full, honest portrayal of their community.
Viewing some of the photos in the exhibition, I was taken by their joy and their beauty. The subjects are infused with the dignity that they deserve, and there is a strong sense of place embodied throughout the work, which, taken as a whole, displays a vibrant community that thrives in a way that outsiders might not realize.
The ICP at the Point program is awe-inspiring, as much for its reach into the community as for its continuity. That such a large group of young people learned photography—and film, no less!—by practicing in their neighborhood is as wonderful a story as the photographs that came out of it.
The exhibition will be up through the end of this year, at the Point (details here). If you live in New York, and are interested in good street photography and environmental portraiture, check it out.
On a side note, The New York Times offers some of the best ongoing photography coverage of any major media outlet. Their Lens blog is updated at least twice weekly with interesting and thought-provoking photographic essays of all kinds. If you’re a Times subscriber, it’s well worth keeping an eye on the Lens section, and, if you’re not, you can peruse the list of articles for free, and view up to five articles per month.