Last week we wrapped up our fall term for all of our ICP at THE POINT classes. Our Tuesday preteen class had a very busy ten weeks including a field trip to the New York Historical Society and a Guest Artist visit with Daniella Zalcman.
The best part of working with preteens is always being reminded to never underestimate their capacity for knowledge, creativity, and truth. There is so much happening around them and they are aware of everything. Being able to work with them in a creative setting that encourages critical thinking and expression through visual, written, and verbal skill feels more and more important. The truth is–they are teaching us–we are merely giving them the language and the tools to do so.
Both our recent visit to the New York Historical Society and visit from Daniella were testaments to the power of our youth. On the walk to the museum the students noticed a Black Lives Matter sign and paused to photograph it.
We have discussed the power of art as not the change itself, but as incubator for change. This sign allowed them, as children of different ages and races, to be able to open dialogue on their own terms, which was also the perfect segue to visiting NYHS’s Campaigning for the Presidency, 1960-1972: Selections from the Museum of Democracy and Photographs by Larry Silver, 1949-1955 exhibitions. As young & aware photographers they were able to make connections from past elections to present and grasp the process and effectiveness of campaigning, as well as see the work of a photographer here in their same city.
Our Guest Artist visit with Daniella Zalcman only continued this path toward change! Zalcman shared past work and how she arrived at her current project “Signs of Identity.” The dialogue that followed was nothing short of tense, honest, and inspiring. Her work documents experiences of Native peoples in Canada who were taken from their homes as young as two or three years old and sent to church run boarding schools. These Indian Residential Schools were an attempt to strip Native peoples of their identity and culture.
“These multiple exposure portraits show survivors who are still fighting to overcome the memories of their residential school experiences. These individuals are reflected in the sites where those schools once stood, in the government documents that enforced strategic assimilation, in the places where today, First Nations people now struggle to access services that should be available to all Canadians. These are the echoes of trauma that remain even as the healing process begins.” –Daniella Zalcman
All photo credits: Isabel Figueroa, ICP at THE POINT Faculty