Friday’s visit to CityArts showed a smaller turnout of young artists. With a smaller group, it gave us the opportunity to mix and share our time amongst the young artists. I floated around to a few different students, some of whom I hadn't had the chance to interact with yet. Having been four times to CityArts, I could tell the young artists were becoming noticeably more comfortable with us. Although I find it a great that we are creating stronger relationships and bonds, I also find this to be a bit challenging. We are walking into uncharted and complicated territory of how to maintain structure, while also giving the young artist’s space to engage with the cameras, photography while also having fun. I, myself, am still learning photography. My artistic eye is still developing alongside the young artists. That is why I have a hard time knowing my place. I don’t feel as though I am equipped enough to teach these young artists, but what I feel I can do is create relationships and encourage. There are times when the young artists take photos that they are incredibly proud of and it's in those moments that I am honored to a part of the learning environment we're building together. I wouldn’t call myself a teacher, but instead a friend. Then again I wonder if this is the wrong mentality to have when going into class. The more comfortable they get with us, the freer they feel to goof around making it a bit chaotic at times. How do I walk that fine line between friend and teacher or mentor? The arts are not something I feel should be forced upon anyone. So I am conflicted when the young artists would rather play soccer or basketball instead of taking pictures. How do I go about incorporating taking pictures into other activities that they would like to be doing?
In our slightly unorganized dynamic of the day due to the lower attendance, it was hard for myself and the young artists to stay focused on the photography. There was one young artist in particular who was especially rambunctious. While I enjoyed hanging out with him along with some of the other PC students, he wasn’t very interested in taking photos. When going outside he was more interested in playing around on the playground. I wasn’t sure exactly how to handle the situation, whether I should have redirected his attention or just continued letting him have fun. Upon returning to the classroom, while doing our reflection, I wasn’t sure that this young artist would have much to share with the class. I was pleasantly surprised when it came his turn and he was so visibly proud of the photo that he was sharing with the class. It wasn’t a photo he took himself, instead it was a photo taken of him, but he was able to articulate what exactly he liked about the photo in a way I had never seen him do before. It reassured me that maybe the action of taking photos does not always need to be the primary focus. It is equally important that we are creating relationships with the young artists so that they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and themselves with us. Moving forward, I am excited to see the progress that this young artist and the other’s make in being able to analyze and express their photos with everyone.
Gretchen Schissel, Providence College Class of 2017, Global Studies Major & French Minor
Public & Digital Relations - Dee, Gretchen, Danny & Stephen