2020 was of course a most difficult year—filled with tragic losses, uncertainties, and tribulations that we previously could not have ever imagined. When 2021 came, many anticipated and hoped we could turn the page and start anew. But the world soon realized that this was still just the beginning. We’d come to realize that what we all knew and accepted as “normal” had ended — whether we wanted it or not, we were forced into a reset.
It is during this reset that our class began a 16-week journey to learn about photography and its powerful storytelling potential. Students from many different skill levels embarked on personal projects which they held dear to them. In their work, you’ll see topics that address personal and communal reflection during a global pandemic, mental illness, racial identity, familial history, and joyous moments of celebration.
Working on these projects as a class reminded us how photography can be used to build and foster community during the roughest times. Through this journey we became better photographers, but most importantly we found friends and peers to support the future endeavors of this next generation of imagemakers.
For over 10 years, the Red Hook Community Justice Center’s JustArts youth photography program’s goal is to enable young people to recognize their own talents and interests as they make life-changing decisions to become civically engaged leaders of tomorrow. It seeks to introduce youth to photography as an art form, build their sense of self-efficacy and skills in artistic self-expression, build job readiness and life skills, and foster an interest in the arts and awareness of arts careers.
This 12-week photography program was facilitated by photographer Salvador Espinoza. Salvador Espinoza is a photographer born and raised in New York City. Primarily a documentary photographer and photojournalist, he specializes in focusing on social issues by shooting realistic slices of everyday life. His work has won awards from the Queens Council on the Arts as well as the New York City Council, and has been published in the New York Times, BBC News, Rolling Stone and Mass Appeal.
The exhibition is created and produced in partnership with Photoville, a New York-based non-profit organization that works to promote a wider understanding and increased access to the art of photography for all — by producing a free photo festival, activating public spaces, amplifying visual storytellers, and connecting artists to a wider worldwide audience. For more information, please visit www.photoville.com or follow us on IG @photoville
Thank you to New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the Robin Hood Foundation, the Leonian Foundation and Senator Velmanette Montgomery for supporting this program.