Friday, August 12, 2005

What Only Art Can Do, Part II

In today's NYTimes, art critic Roberta Smith reviews an exhibition of the actual photographs taken by the children featured in the Oscar-winning documentary, Born into Brothels. The exhibition, titled "Kids With Cameras: Calcutta," is at the School of the International Center of Photography until Sunday. The ICP doesn't have anything about the exhibition on their website, but the Times review offers a few of the images.

Kids with Cameras, as you may know if you saw the documentary, is a non-profit organization that reaches out to marginalized children and helps empower them through art. You can see more images of the children's photography on their site. From the organization's mission statement:

We use photography to capture the imaginations of children, to empower them, building confidence, self-esteem and hope. We share their vision and voices with the world through exhibitions, books, websites and film. We are committed to furthering their general education beyond photography either by linking with local organizations to provide scholarships or by developing our own schools with a focus on leadership and the arts.
When Zana Briski (a photography teacher and one of the film's makers [with Ross Kauffman]) returned to Calcutta recently, she found that most of the children who she handed cameras to had since been able to enter boarding schools because of her efforts.

Now, I have to admit that I've yet to see either the exhibition or the film, but the following line from Roberta Smith's review, combined with the mission statement on Kids with Camera's website, prompted me to write about this. Smith wrote:
If you ever doubted art's efficacy as a path to valuable self-knowledge and confidence, and thus an essential part of education, look for confirmation here.
I believe that to be true with every fiber of my being. School systems that shut down art programs to save money might as well tattoo "Partially Prepared" across the foreheads of their graduates. The resulting loss of the potential that art helps develop is shameful, in my opinion. Not all students exposed to artmaking will fall in love with it and decide to pursue it, obviously, but all of them will feel the empowering virture of creating their own universe and benefit from the structure in the processes of observing, processing, internalizing and then interpreting. Ahhhh, don't' get me started...I'm an fanatic. Just go see the exhibition. Here's another image:

"Bengali Moon," shot by Kochi.


Anonymous crionna said...

I fit makes you feel any better today, I did spend more time looking at the photos from the site you posted in this bit than I did arguing about SUV mileage.

Great stuff, not that it's "art" so much as I can look at photos of other parts of the world for hours. So many smiles, depsite the surroundings...

Have a great weekend e. And thanks for this place.

8/12/2005 04:56:00 PM  

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