Yesterday evening I had the great privilege of attending the End of Quarter Show for intermediate level students at Youth in Focus, a non-profit organization that uses photography to reach at-risk youth, ages 13–19. Our very own Ashley Mouldon was kind enough to invite me to the event—she is the administrative and development guru at the organization.
I arrived early to the Black Rapid gallery in Queen Anne and met the Execute Director, Trina Gadsden, and the Program Director, Kate Porter. What kind and welcoming women! I stood awkwardly next to Ashley as she greeted students and visitors until Trina snagged me and introduced me to a student who lead me to his work. We walked through the comfortably busy gallery toward his photography. This young artist explained that the theme for the quarter was “what matters to me.” His trio of photos was meant to represent ‘mindset’; one photo was of his dog, one was of his girlfriend sitting in the grass, and one was of a man wearing a gas mask in front of a beautifully colored sky with a rainbow. Our thought-provoking conversation revealed what he’d learned and what photography means to him.
Another student I spoke with told me that he struggled with the theme of the quarter because he genuinely didn’t know what mattered to him. He eventually discovered that what really mattered to him was the quality of the photos themselves—the light and composition—as opposed to their contents. His passion when telling me about this discovery was evident.
I asked two other students to take me to their work and explain to me what their pictures meant and what they’d learned in the process. Each had similar stories to tell. I am thoroughly impressed and absolutely inspired by what these students are gaining from the classes they’ve taken at Youth in Focus. When I asked if they’d changed as people and learned about themselves through these classes, each student gave an enthusiastic yes. Visit the Youth in Focus website to learn more about what they do and how you can get involved.
Happy 20th Anniversary, Youth in Focus!