This week’s FOIA class involved us taking a trip to the International Center of Photography (ICP) to tour the facilities and meet Guest Artist, photographer Alzo Slade. As with our trip to the Brooklyn Museum, this was a great opportunity for our students to leave Harlem and be visually inspired by another area of the city.
We were also very happy to get our students acquainted with the ICP community more directly. Alzo discussed his career and artistic process with us, in addition to showing a body of work he created about New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. In one series Alzo examined the landscape and they way humans occupied the space of the city 463 days after the storm. In another series he creates a series of portraits accompanied by the writing of a collective of low income New Orleans residents, examining how the storm impacted their physical lives as well as their consciousness.
Our students engaged in a thoughtful conversation about issues of representation and having the power to tell one’s own story. We also discussed questions of social responsibility when telling the stories of other people’s communities. Alzo is a faculty member at ICP and the former lead instructor for the FOI A program. This showed in his rapport and presence with our students, which truly inspired them.After our visit with Alzo, our students spent some time photographing each other in Bryant Park. Our photographs were inspired by Alzo’s work and approach to documenting people’s experience, but emphasizing and highlighting aspects of their personalities that exist beneath the surface.