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The Commons
The Arts

Exposures Program opens young eyes to new worlds

In-Sight's summer photography intensive celebrates 15th year

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Originally published in The Commons issue #419 (Wednesday, August 2, 2017). This story appeared on page B2.

BRATTLEBORO—On July 22, 16 young people ranging in age from 15 to 21 traveled to South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation for a three-week adventure of a lifetime.

Representing communities in eight states — Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and South Dakota, as well as communities in Mexico and Afghanistan, and the native-American Oglala Lakota, Dine, Yaqui, Azteca, and Mayan tribes — these neophyte photographers brought their individual, community, and cultural perspectives, and keen interest in understanding the worlds around them to In-Sight Photography Project’s signature summer intensive, the 2017 Exposures Cross-Cultural Youth Arts Program.

The Exposures Program, marking its 15th year this summer, is being hosted once again by members of the Oglala Lakota tribe.

To date, more than 450 young people have participated in the on-site summer program and also in the September-to-June facilitated online exchange at partner sites around the country.

In addition to this 15-year milestone, In-Sight Photography Project is celebrating a milestone of its own — its 25th year in service to young people throughout the southeastern Vermont, southwestern New Hampshire and north-central Massachusetts region.

“We added this national, and now international, component of the In-Sight Photography Project in 2003,” In-Sight’s co-founder John Willis said in news release. “We chose the name Exposures because the program does indeed expose young participants to new people, new places, new experiences, and a new way of looking at their own lives. It also opens them up to the ways in which photography can become a language they can use to visualize and share their experiences with one another and with those in their home communities.”

This year’s Exposures participants will explore the theme, “How Can Participants Make a Real Difference in the World Around Them?”

“Almost immediately upon meeting each other, these young people got down to work,” said Willis, writing from Pine Ridge. “They began to talk about cultural dreams and expectations and about the real-life challenges that have existed throughout history and to the present day. They’ve already expressed enthusiasm in working collaboratively on how they can make a positive difference in the world.

“At a time in our history when it’s more critical than ever for each of us to find our way to the light, we are eager to see and hear what our young participants come up with both in Pine Ridge and later online through the fall and winter.”

Among those sharing the 2017 Exposures experience is Daisy Osowski of Northfield, Mass.

“Most of my family lives in Marlboro, Vermont, so I spend a lot of time in and around Brattleboro. I’ve been taking classes at In-Sight for five years,” she said. “In-Sight and its Exposures program may be the best things to ever happen to me. Not only have I learned invaluable artistic skills, but I’ve also gained a confidence in myself and my work that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“This summer is my third Exposures experience. In my first year I had no idea what to expect and ended up leaving South Dakota a completely different person. Exposures is so intensive that you really don’t have a choice in whether you grow or not. You’re surrounded by people who’ve had different experiences and thoughts. Conversation is always encouraged so the group dynamic is constantly in flux. My goal this year is the same as in every other — to make art and learn as much as I possibly can.”

Joining Daisy and the others, Textli Gallegos journeyed to Pine Ridge all the way from Los Angeles, where she participates in that city’s acclaimed Las Fotos Project.

“I am so excited to be back at Exposures for a third time,” she said. “The first two summer intensives definitely made me more confident in photography and more confident in myself. I met people from different states and created friends outside of Los Angeles. The Exposures program has given me many opportunities.

“For example, this year I’ll be participating as an intern — a step closer towards my goal to become a facilitator. I plan on staying with this amazing program for a very long time. I’ve learned so much and have experienced so many beautiful things that I’ll remember forever. I am so glad that I was able to apply and so grateful to be accepted.”

“As in all In-Sight programs, Exposures students can participate regardless of their ability to pay, and we’re proud of that,” said In-Sight’s Executive Director, Jerry Goldberg. “Our programs are supported by program fees, grants and private donations, and in-kind donations from several generous contributors.”

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