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Originally published in The Commons issue #165 (Wednesday, August 15, 2012).
BRATTLEBORO—Sixteen year-old Noa Petrie of Brattleboro had never been away from her family for more than five days when she went on the three-week Exposures Summer Program at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota this summer.
Although she was uneasy about going on this new adventure, she said, “It turned out to be literally the greatest experience in my life.” She made new friends, learned about a new part of the country, and experienced first-hand a very different culture from her own, which she came to treasure.
From July 1-21, youth from southern Vermont, the Navajo Nation in Arizona, and Chicago joined youth on Pine Ridge Reservation for the Exposures 2012 Summer Program. Over three weeks, participants used photography and other creative tools to collaboratively explore themes of place, community, and culture while engaging with and learning about the Pine Ridge community.
Developed collaboratively by directors of The In-Sight Photography Project and the Hall Farm Center, Exposures is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Programming began in 2001 with a retreat in southern Vermont for young photographers from In-Sight in Brattleboro and the International Center for Photography at The Point in the Bronx.
At this time, Exposures also began to work with youth organizations on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, assisting with the implementation of photography programming for youth on the reservation and forming relationships within the community.
This developed into Exposures’ summer programming, which began in 2003 at Pine Ridge.
With the addition of Exchange programming in fall 2009, Exposures expanded to offer year-round opportunities for youth participation and collaboration between partnering communities. That same year, Exposures formally became a program of the In-Sight Photography Project.
Exposures calls itself an “exchange program intended to facilitate creative cross-cultural dialogue and experiences that lead to a better understanding of our diverse communities and cultures.”
This year, participants came from the In-Sight Photography Project in Southern Vermont, Street-Level Youth Media in Chicago, Little Wound School and Shannon County Virtual High School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the Diné Southwest High School from Navajo Nation in Arizona.
Through fall and spring classes in their home communities, the youth in the Exposures Exchange programs learned photography skills to document their experiences, cultures, and communities.
“Our special focus in this year’s spring and fall Exposure Exchange programs was called ‘The 24 Hour Project,’” said Sophia LaCava-Bohanan, Exposures assistant director. Participants were instructed to make photographs to represent a 24-hour cycle of a typical day in their area by capturing an image from each hour of that day.
“From the photographs of each participant, Exposures students in each community had to curate a communal work that best represented this 24-hour period,” she added. “Participants thereby learned photographic skills and techniques to explore how daily routines build a sense of place and culture.”
Exposures participants also collaborated with youth in the other participating locations through an online gallery and forum in which they share and respond to one another’s creative works.
Upon completing one or both of these classes, students were able to apply for the Exposures’ Summer Program and have the chance to go to Pine Ridge Reservation to continue their cross-cultural study. The eight students chosen this year came from each of the five communities, and ranged in age from 16 to 25.
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