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NFA West students visit local art exhibit and discuss gun violence
NFA West visited the Newburgh Community Photography Project exhibition Last Seen/Scene as part of their digital arts class with Ms. Nina D’Alfonso and Ms. Elizabeth Cappello, a participating photographer in the exhibit.
Newburgh Community Photo Project (NCPP) is a grassroots community-based photography educational program whose mission is to engage local youth on topics of national interest that relate directly to their communities and ultimately empower them to utilize photography to advocate for change in their own lives and the lives of their communities. NCPP is a volunteer-run arts organization that teaches young adults the conception, development, organization, and presentation of photography installations and public art projects.
Topics will cover gun violence, economic and political empowerment, gender issues, voting rights and registration, community policing, immigration, housing, and clean water. Educational programming will be organized around issues to encourage empathy and understanding among people who are different from one another to break down barriers and advocate for the rights of all residents to envision a future and participate in the political and economic progress of the City of Newburgh.
“You guys are the next generation of Newburgh. It's all up to you. I hate to put that burden on you, but I truly believe you have the strength and courage to take this challenge on. Today, I feel honored to speak to you and by giving me this honor you've also given me power and influence over you. I mention this because I want to point out that you have similar power over those younger to you - your younger brothers or sisters, cousins, family members, neighbors. They see what you do and who you are. You always need to remember that they're watching you. If you're doing the right thing and working as hard as you can, they're going to see that and most likely follow your lead. By leading by example, we create a different generation and a different atmosphere.” Phoenix Gayle, member and participant of NCPP’s most recent project.
“Photographs carry ideas and photographs can also express words that maybe we’re not able to express. Words can also express decisions we make that will impact the rest of your life. Not only for you, but for your friends, family, and community. Our lives are defined by images, maybe not necessarily a photograph, but some form of image. I'm interested in photography and the ways they can tell a story and bring out feelings, which is why I focus on documentary style photography and film making” Vincent Cianni, NCPP documentary style photographer and instructor at Parsons The New School of Design, NYC
The session with students began with a short audio production highlighting interviews of family members who lost loved ones. After reviewing the work and a brief activity and discussion, students were asked to reflect on what they’ve seen and heard so far. “For those who are more shy or need a minute to put your thoughts together, please take a post it - or several to write down your thoughts or a message to whoever comes to see this exhibit next. You’re essentially adding to this exhibition by doing this.” Nina D'Alfonso, teacher at NFA West
“Take this space and think about how you can use it in your life or in the future. You're at an age where you want things to happen immediately. Accomplishments in life take determination and commitment - and time. You have to think about what you want for you and your family long term. And what are you doing today and each day to get yourself there.” Vincent Cianni, “This is really a project space - not an exhibition or gallery. This space welcomes people in to create their own work as well. We welcome you to come here to do work that has meaning to you and your community.”
Students were then asked to reflect on the photographs and share one word that came to mind. For some students, the photographs and short documentary hit very close to home as some shared their experiences with gun violence and their families and friends who have been impacted.
Mr. Cianni showed students the camera he uses to capture images, which uses film and is much larger than cameras that students are most familiar with today. Students toured the dark room in the studio and also talked about the Photoshop and computer edits they learn about in class.
NFA West students will use the visit to the local gallery to create posters that promote awareness of the dangers of gun violence. Posters will be exhibited at NCPP for a future exhibit.
Photographs from LAST SEEN/ SCENE, a multi-media exhibit on gun violence in the City of Newburgh is open through January 12, 2018 at Atlas Industries.
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