Saturday, January 10, 2009

Seeing Ourselves: Photographs of Safe Haven

Andee's first curatorial effort at the Frist Center!!!

In April 2008, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts partnered with Safe Haven Family Shelter to provide an opportunity for cultural enrichment through a community art program offered to its residents. Local photographer Allen Clark and the Frist Center's outreach educators led participants, who ranged in age from three to sixty-five years, in a two-week photography workshop, during which they learned about composition, visual storytelling, and photographic technique. Writing exercises and preliminary drawings helped residents form ideas for images that reflected their thoughts about their lives. On the final day of the workshop, each resident was provided with a Holga 120N camera and invited to capture the compositions they had planned.

Safe Haven is the only shelter in middle Tennessee that provides both interim housing and job training, thereby empowering homeless families with children to live independently. The photographs selected for Seeing Ourselves represent life patterns and happenings that are experienced by people living in a variety of circumstances. Instead of simply documenting the conditions of homelessness, the images remind us that we all share common hopes, dreams, and goals.

The Holga 120N is a medium format, toy-like camera. Holga enthusiasts believe that flaws in the camera's plastic lens and body mechanics give pictures an appealing look. Light leaks, vignetting, loss of sharpness, and other "imperfections" produce unique effects to create works that transcend straightforward documentation. In the world of photography, Holga images are in many ways the visual equivalent to what vinyl records are to the music industry.
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