We’d hung just a few images on metal shutters, using magnets salvaged from old stereos, when the street cleaner working nearby sat down to watch. The men drinking tea at the little chai stand nearby all turned to watch. It wasn’t unusual to draw looks while installing an exhibit in this unusual location, but their words…their words were perhaps unusual.
Jwana. Zor jwana.
It’s beautiful. It’s very beautiful.
And they were right. As a mosaic of images covered the space yesterday, it was undeniable: the students had made beautiful photographs. We had pushed them hard to make work that we knew they were capable of making. They rose to the challenge. They are proud of their work, as are we.
In the early years of The ONE-SHOT Project, we used gallery space to exhibit the student work. We made a special event, where family and friends were invited. It was lovely. But we learned the lesson at ONE-SHOT:Santiago; when you hang student work right in the context where they live and work, right in the midst of their neighbours, you give a huge gift to the students as well as everyone around them. The students had their works seen by hundreds of people who work in the area. Folks who likely don’t go to galleries. No one was shy to vocalize their appreciation. And our students got to hear those words over and over… Jwana!
Each student received a certificate of achievement, a flash drive containing all the images they made during the workshop. As well, each student chose one of their images from the wall to keep. For a few, it was a difficult decision.
After the images had been admired, the baklava and fruit eaten, and our appreciation expressed to all who gathered, there was time for a few selfies before everyone went home.
Huge thanks to our translators, Nahro Ahmed and Lass Jalal! We couldn’t do what we do without them.
And lastly, we want to thank the STEP Center for facilitating this class, and in particular Kak Raheem. I don’t think he’ll ever see this post, but he is one of the most extraordinary people. We learn more about love and respect for children every time we work with him.
In the days ahead, we’ll continue to feature student work here. We hope to find a space in the city to show the student work for a longer period of time, and of course we’re making plans for future opportunities for young people here. We hope you’ll continue to follow along.