Learning Through Photography (LTP) was a multi-year initiative from The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design that used photography and writing as tools for learning through art. LTP utilized in-classroom collaborative teaching, encouraged home and community participation in learning, and supported Philadelphia's goal of improving literacy and arts access for school-age youth. The project was inspired by the ground breaking work of photographer Wendy Ewald who started the Literacy Through Photography program in Durham, South Carolina in 1989 which encouraged children to explore their world as they photograph scenes from their own lives, and then use their images as catalysts for verbal and written expression.
During its five year run LTP provided a wide range of services and projects to the students and teacher of the greater Philadelphia area including professional and curriculum development for local educators, community and student based photography exhibitions, cameras and photography supplies to classrooms, in class presentations by local artists, photography workshops at libraries and community centers. At one point, LTP equipment and sercices were utilized by 10 Philadelphia public schools in grades 4-12.
In 2012 the LTP program was awarded a competive three-year U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services grant that provided support for several project intiatives including three immersive in-school community art projects.
Harding Middle School /// 2013 /// Science Fiction Film
Led by teaching artists Kathryn Sclavi and Jebney Lewis, students worked together to create alter-ego movie characters, alien worlds, and complicated story plots. With the assistance of professional film producers, costume designers, and photographers, the students brought their writing to life through a photo shoot at their school while simultaneously learning about the creative jobs behind cinematic productions. Students from Moore’s graphic design department used these images to produce movie poster layouts, and a professional graphic designer created the final posters. The project culminated with an exhibition at Moore and an opening reception that featured dramatic readings of the student’s movie scripts by professional actors and actresses.
Russell Byers Charter School /// 2014 /// Neuron Net
For this project, teaching artist Ben Volta worked with twenty-five fifth-grade students to investigate the subject of “cells.” Through conversations and learning activities students explored how cells function, what they do, and why they are important. During these sessions students began to visualize cellular bodies and their activities through writing prompts and free-drawing sessions. Students then worked with Moore faculty member and teaching artist Heather Ujiie to translate their drawings and writings into an elaborate and imaginative neuron costume. Students from Moore’s undergraduate fashion department worked with Ujiie in the completion of the costume. Russell Byers students then worked with Volta and their writing instructor to write an educational and imaginative play that included their neuron costume and featured speaking roles for each student. In addition, professional photographer Hitoshi Ujiie led students in a photo-shoot during a dress rehearsal of their play. These photos were combined with the student’s original neuron drawings to create a large-scale photographic installation inside The Galleries at Moore. The project culminated with a reception for students, family and friends at The Galleries. After the reception students walked to the nearby Franklin Institute, where they performed their play, complete with neuron costume, within the historic The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial to an audience of over 100 family, friends, and members of the general public. The neuron costume is now displayed with pride in the main lobby of the Russell Byers School.
Kensington High School for the Creative & Performing Arts /// 2015 /// What’s Your Story?
For this project, over seventy Kensington High School for the Create and Performing Arts (KCAPA) students worked for three months with teachers Josh Kleiman and Charlie McGeehan to create works of poetry, writing and photography exploring the topic of identity. Each student created a photographic triptych that addressed their personal identity, family connections, community ties and larger societal stereotypes. In the spring of 2015, photographs were chosen by the students and printed on large-scale vinyl banners and installed at eight highly visible outdoor locations throughout the Kensington neighborhood. These banners, remained on display for one year and were seen by a large number of Philadelphians as they commute to work (several of the banners can be seen on the city’s main elevated transit line) and as they travel through the Kensington neighborhood. In June 2016 KCAPA students led two “walking tours” that allowed community members and press to learn more about the personal inspiration for each banner and hear students read the poetry displayed on the banners. A publication featuring the work of the seventy-one participating students was also produced to document the project. The publication and a selection of photographic prints were shared at a local coffee shop with a reception open to the students, their families and members of the community.