Tag Archives: Roeper High School

Summer Slow Down? Never a Dull Moment for Photography@DIA

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Detroit area high school students view their work at the DIA, May 2009

In the weeks leading up to summer, you might think that my desk would see a little bit less action – a few less phone calls and maybe a day with one less email. But the success of our current exhibition Of Life and Loss has kept me and many DIA staffers and volunteers busy with tours and special programs. In late May, I was fortunate to spend some time with the young minds responsible for the works on view just outside the photo gallery. I spoke with a group of Roeper and Dearborn High School photography students and discussed the exhibition with recent guest blogger Michelle Stamler, a dedicated instructor of photography at Roeper. In early May as well, the Detroit-area chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women toured the exhibition with me and more groups will visit later in June with the Jewish Federation. Our veteran docent and photo collector Barbara Goldsmith will be on hand to enrich their experience as well. Of Life and Loss has been a quiet yet powerful exhibition with its images speaking volumes to our audience. It has drawn many visitors to the DIA. The exhibition will be on view through July 12, 2009.

More summer news came recently in an email from Detroit-area photographer Bill Schwab regarding his upcoming Photostock 2009.   Bill has fostered the workshops and programs at Photostock for the last four years and envisions the event growing upcoming years. It’s great to see Michigan on the map with a weekend dedicated to the medium. So if you are heading north at the end of June and find yourself near Petoskey, there is an interesting evening lined up with photographer Shelby Lee Adams in conjunction with Photostock.shelbyleeposter

And the Richard Avedon exhibition continues to occupy everyone’s minds here at the DIA. Even though the DIA will take a brief break from special exhibitions in the upcoming months, DIA staff continues to work on programs and the research & installation of upcoming exhibitions. Although the public sees a seamless transition from one exhibition to the next, the planning and execution of our exhibition schedule often takes many months and sometimes even years. blog

I have been working for the past several weeks with architect and exhibition designer Frank Arvan to create an exciting presentation of Avedon Fashion Photographs this fall. Frank has been responsible for the design of several DIA exhibitions including Monet to Dali and American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell. We have plotted out the exhibition carefully with special attention given to Avedon’s work laid as it has developed decade by decade and with highlights that include a “Paris by Night” section as well as a gallery devoted to Avedon’s vintage engraver’s prints made from 1955-58.  It is just the start of a busy summer for photography@the DIA – I’ll be blogging soon on upcoming acquistions and other programs and events in the near future.

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Photography@DIA – Future Programs & Exhibitions in 2009

Many thanks to Michelle Stamler for posting recently on her involvement with Roeper High School photo students and the DIA. I am looking forward to their visit later this month at the DIA to view Of Life and Loss and talk about their work inspired by this exhibition. I did not expect such an overwhelming response to this exhibition. There is a constant stream of visitors in our galleries everyday.  And it seems that this very powerful group of photographs speak to a very diverse group of visitors on so many different levels with great emotional impact and resonance. I was fortunate to have exhibition curator Karen Sinsheimer deliver the most-illuminating lecture on Of Life and Loss this past Sunday to over 100 people in the DIA’s lecture hall.

Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936, by Walker Evans

Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936, by Walker Evans

The DIA is moving forward with our other photo exhibitions and programs for the year. This past week I have been busy working with interpretive educator Madeleine Winslow on an upcoming exhibition Photography-The First 100 Years. Although the exhibition does not open until September 2, 2009, plans for installation and development of interpretative materials for the gallery take place months and sometimes years in advance. Madeleine and I hope to get some feedback from our visitors in the gallery with a reader response table focused on the work of Walker Evans one of the featured artists in the exhibition. We plan to set up some online opportunities to hear your thoughts as well.

Avedon Fashion preThe exhibition Avedon Fashion Photographs 1944-2000 will also open at the DIA on October 18. 2009. I was fortunate to get an advance copy on the catalogue with essays by exhibition curators Carol Squiers and Vince Aletti. The authors have given their undivided and thorough attention to this very productive and influential period of the photographer’s career in fashion editorial work that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue  and in later years for the Versace campaign beginning in 1980 and eventually as staff photographer for The New Yorker. The exhibition opened last week at the International Center for Photography, New York, and a sneak peak of some of Avedon’s fashion work can be found at the New Yorker Online – Here at the DIA, the exhibition will get four-star treatment in our special exhibition space with an elegant installation and some exciting programs and events to soon be announced.

High school students share their perspectives

I jumped in to help out with the exhibition Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky during the last phases of development. I was immediately struck by the artists’ visually and emotionally compelling images that captured Jewish experiences in Poland at different points in time. Their photographs share the theme of memory—both how we remember the lives that once were and the void that remains when they’ve passed.

            The theme of memory applies to us all. Every time I see a photograph of my grandmother, I remember how she taught me to sew—with skill, patience, and a quiet persistence. She’s gone now, but her sewing machine remains—a durable reminder of her special talents. Her memory lives on in the stitches that help construct the garments I sew today.

We all have our own ways of thinking about memory, a fact evidenced by photographs taken by area high school students in conjunction with Of Life and Loss. I was moved by the images we received. As an educator, I’m constantly striving to find ways to make art relevant—searching for those kernels of meaning that will resonate. The results of the student photography project are those kernels – they are moving, insightful, striking, and evocative perspectives on how memory manifests itself in the everyday. Through the discerning eye of each individual student, the intricacies of remembrance emerge.

I was particularly intrigued by the fact that three different students (from two different schools) chose to take photographs of swing sets. Similar to the two photographers featured in the exhibition, the photographs by these three students focus on similar subject matter, but with distinct points of view.

In one, two swings sit empty in a black and white image of an elementary school playground. The student discusses her memories of “soaring through the skies” and her feelings of invincibility. The empty swings remind the viewer of more innocent days.

In another image, a single, broken swing hangs by a metal ring. The student recalls that “Unbroken playgrounds were scarce.” For this artist, the broken swing represents the memories that “children around Detroit hold.” The image captures the collective experiences of many urban youth.

In a third image, a series of swing sets cast linear shadows on the concrete and asphalt playground of a middle school. For this student the swings bring back memories of “swinging the shoes from our feet across the blacktop.” To her, these swing sets represent “the good ol’ days,” suggesting a loss of what once was.

These are just a few of the many student photographs that can be seen in conjunction with Of Life and Loss. Be sure to look for the students’ work when you come. A running slideshow presents the photographs accompanied by a booklet that contains artist statements. Thank you to the photography students and teachers from Dearborn High School, Renaissance High School, and Roeper High School. Your work is proof that art matters.