Compilation of program participants' work, The View from Here, Yale Center for British Art

The Yale Center for British Art presents "The View From Here"

Photographs taken by local students will be projected on the Center’s building and accompanied by an online exhibition.
 

“Looking at people and my community with my camera is how I fell in love with photography” —Sarah Onyinyechukwu Okeke, Achievement First Amistad High School

NEW HAVEN, CT—The View From Here showcases the work of twelve high school and first-year college students from the Greater New Haven area who participated in The View From Here: Accessing Art Through Photography, an inaugural four-month photography program offered by the Yale Center for British Art and the Lens Media Lab at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH), Yale University. From August 16 through October 10, 2021, the exhibition can be viewed through the Center’s High Street windows and on the Center’s website.

Each evening from sunset to midnight, projections of the students’ work will be visible on the Center’s windows on High Street. This is the first time that the Center will feature art on its exterior walls. “The idea of presenting the students’ photography outward, especially at a time when everything was closed because of the pandemic, arose as a new way to offer access to the museum,” noted Richard Caspole, photographer at the Center.

The exhibition is also presented on the Center’s website, where personal statements written by the students are exhibited with their photographs, speaking to community, family, and a shared sense of space. James Vanderberg, Educator at the Center and one of the program organizers, said “We were faced with many obstacles in how to connect our programs with our diverse audiences during the pandemic. Instead of closing things down we created new opportunities to open them up.”

Responding to the challenges of the present moment, The View From Here was created and taught entirely online. The course aimed to deepen the students’ engagement with photography by connecting lessons about the history, methods, science, and artistic possibilities of the medium with the development of an artistic practice. Using primarily their smartphone cameras, a tool with which young adults are already conversant, the program participants created images—ranging from landscapes and cityscapes to portraits—that offer a unique view of individual experience while also weaving together a story of collective isolation. Paul Messier, IPCH Chair and one of the program organizers, explained that “the basic premise of the class is that smartphone photography is fully legitimate—deeply continuous with the history of the medium while also packing new potential for innovation and imaginative expression.” 

The View From Here was inspired by the Studio Museum in Harlem’s longstanding Expanding the Walls program, established twenty years ago. Like the Studio Museum, the Center offered local students the opportunity to engage directly with professionals in the world of photography. The course was taught by an interdisciplinary team including Center photographers, educators, curators, scientists, and art conservators, who provided the students professional critique and mentorship. Guest instructors included Yale School of Art faculty members Lisa Kereszi and Ted Partin, as well as documentary photographer Melanie Stangle, formerly of the New Haven Register.

A background in art was not required for participation. “Many of the students had no prior artistic training in photography. The course helped them gain confidence with their smartphone cameras as a tool they could use in a serious way. Over these four months we saw their work evolve from casual snapshots to the exhibition-worthy photographs now in our windows,” said Martina Droth, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Center, who initiated the program.

Together, the student-photographers made a commitment to both imagine and image their lives beyond the confines of quarantine and to capture the world as they see it. The students produced hundreds of digital photographs and worked closely with instructors to curate the final display. Robert Hixon, Senior Imaging Systems Specialist at the Center, who was involved in the selection process, noted that “the students possess an ability to see the world with a sophistication far beyond their years. With each assignment, they created images that stopped us in our tracks.” Bernie Staggers, photographer at the Center, added “it was rewarding to watch the transformation of the students’ image capture and photo-editing skills over time as they curated this show.”

Droth, Messier, and Vanderberg conceived the program as a “pilot” and plan to develop a hybrid in-person and online format in the future. Their goal is to create ongoing relationships between alumni and current students. Vanderberg noted that the program’s title, The View from Here, reflects the aim of the organizers to teach students how to take pictures of their individual worlds from their unique vantage points.

The View From Here: Accessing Art Through Photography program was developed, organized, and taught by Martina Droth, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Center; Paul Messier, Pritzker Director of the Lens Media Lab and Chair of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University; and James Vanderberg, Educator, High School, College, University, and Community Outreach; with Robert Hixon, Senior Imaging Systems Specialist; and Center photographers Richard Caspole and Bernie Staggers.

The exhibition was developed by the program organizers and Dylan Vitale, Museum Technician; with graphic design by Melissa Leone (Yale BA 2021) and projection design by Christopher Evans (Yale MFA 2020).

Participating Student Photographers

Mason Detrani, Hamden High School

Julie Hajducky, Achievement First Amistad High School

Luke Izzo, New Haven Academy

Tyler Mitchell, Wilbur Cross High School

Sarah Onyinyechukwu Okeke, Achievement First Amistad High School

Shakshi Patel, High School in the Community

Emily Pruitt, West Haven High School Jazlyn Rivera, Hill Regional Career High School

Maryam Shabazz, Engineering and Science University Magnet School

Laila Smith, New Haven Academy

Kierstin Turnbull, Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School

Jessica Weber, Gateway Community College

About the Yale Center for British Art

The Center is a museum that houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, encompassing works in a range of media from the fifteenth century to the present. It offers exhibitions and programs year-round, including lectures, concerts, films, symposia, tours, and family events. Opened to the public in 1977, the Center’s core collection and landmark building—designed by architect Louis I. Kahn—were a gift to Yale University from the collector and philanthropist Paul Mellon. The museum offers a vibrant program of activities, events, and exhibitions.

Visit the Center at britishart.yale.edu, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @yalebritishart.

Media kit

Download our document and images related to this exhibition.