Photography has been a way for Detroit-area teens to express themselves in the amazing program Annette Vanover has fostered at Focus Hope over the years. With the help of a grant from the Skillman Foundation, Vanover launched a three-year hands on photography curriculum in 2006. Recently, 21 students comprised the first graduating class from the organization’s EXCEL program. The students’ work is now on view in at the Focus Hope Gallery through March 27, 2009.
I first got to know Annette while working with Chicago-based artist Dawoud Bey (who, incidentally, launched his own blog site this year – whatsgoingon-dawoudbeysblog.blogspot.com) on a DIA-sponsored residency project at southwest Detroit’s Chadsey High School in 2003-04. Her understanding of the arts, particularly photography, as a tool for a young individual’s development of self-awareness and insights to those around them was, and continues to be, an inspiration.
Annette and other committed individuals like Terry Blackhawk director at InsideOut, a literary arts program active in Detroit public schools, have stayed strong and active even through tough economic times here in the city. For location & hours on the Focus Hope exhibition and more information, see www.focushope.edu & www.insideoutdetroit.org