Friday, August 14, 2009

Final Thoughts: U Street

It’s all about U. It’s time for U. U Street is your street. These were some of the possible titles that my team brainstormed for our exhibition about the U Street Corridor. I had the pleasure of working with nine fantastic young designers this summer in Investigating Where We Live as we explored U Street. While my group was known as the “quiet group”, that never meant that they were short on creative ideas (or puns, as the titles show) or enthusiasm for making those ideas a reality. All that paired with a truly amazing ability to find common ground and work towards including multiple ideas resulted in a great summer for me (and, I hope, for them as well) and a compelling exhibit.

Each student brought something valuable to the team and helped make the program a success. They all took inspired photographs and confidently interviewed people about the U Street neighborhood. Beyond that, however, Bryant was a great compromiser and managed to merge ideas for the exhibit together while still maintaining their integrity. Kealea, Claire and Emily were always willing to speak their minds and share their ideas and helped move the discussion about themes and design along. Justin and Jasmin produced inspiring artwork and writing, respectively, that added immensely to the exhibit. Olivia, Arianna and Kwame took the lead on the interactive elements in the exhibit, and persevered through all the challenges we encountered with them. Together we were a well-oiled machine that moved along surely and confidently to the opening date of the exhibit.

This is my second time in this position, and I continue to learn more each session. One of the things I like most about my job is that it teaches me not to underestimate anyone, especially young people. The perspective that these students bring to taking, analyzing and thinking about photographs and photography in general is always amazing. So often adults can dismiss this age group because of their alleged lack of experience in the world. If anything, though, their perspective is sometimes fresher and clearer than our own. It shows you how fantastic the combination of youthful energy, engaging material and interested mentors can be.

And, of course, I have to mention my fantastic Teen Assistant, James Brown. This is the second time I have had the honor of working with James in this capacity. He dubbed us “Batman and Batman”, because “there was no sidekick this time.” That is completely true. James helped immensely this summer by taking on the planning of site visits and knowing how best to work with the kids when I couldn’t be in three places at once. James also handled all the math of the layout and is about 100 times better at using power drills than I am. I couldn’t have done it without him this summer!

U Street Team: You did a fantastic job this summer. You should all be proud of the exhibit and your hard work. It really is time for you!

Andrew Costanzo, Team Leader

Final Thoughts: Columbia Heights

Having worked with the outreach programs at NBM in various capacities over the last year, I have to say that I am always amazed by and impressed with the students' final work. IWWL '09 is no exception. Coming into the program as a Team Leader I didn't quite know what to expect other than that somehow I, and the rest of the IWWL team, would get 30 teenagers excited about photography, creative writing, and exhibit design. With the group of students I worked with this summer, these were not hard tasks to accomplish. Not only did each student take wonderful photos, but also took on an active role when it came to selecting the exhibit's theme, the best photos to support that theme, and assisting with its final installation.

To the Columbia Heights (Heeey!) Team, I enjoyed getting to know each of you. Ya'll are a thoughtful, smart, creative, and funny bunch of kids. Thanks for a wonderful summer! Amazing work!

Lauren Wilson, Team Leader

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

IWWL 2009 Exhibition Photos

Investigating Where We Live: Communities in Motion

Visitor Comment - 8/11/2009

Introduction Wall

Shaw: Urban Decay or a Brand New Day?

IWWL 2009 Exhibition Opening!

Investigating Where We Live: Communities in Motion Exhibition Opening