Youth Vision in Context

Photographs by Ten Brockton Teens Replace Meehan's

In collaboration with photographer Mary Beth Meehan, Historian Willie A. Wilson, Jr., and Artists for Humanity photography coordinator Haidan Hodgson, 10 Brockton students spent the summer of 2012 learning how to use documentary photography to explore their lives, immersing themselves in Brockton’s rich history, and learning and to see themselves as a vital part of that history. 

students working updated

Twelve of their resulting photographs were been reproduced as large-scale banners, to replace Mary Beth Meehan's banners when they are removed. With generous support from The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, The Office of Mayor Linda Balzotti, the Brockton Redevelopment Authority, Brockton Community Schools, Metro South Chamber of Commerce, and Stonehill College.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS

City Hall

Brockton High School Students
from left to right, Ashley Lapointe, Deanna Miranda, Kevin Ted Alain Francois, AFH Student Mentors Christopher Glover and Christina Vivada, Heather Gilmore-Esposito, Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti, Maeghan Cunningham, Michael Levy, Jonathan Hyde, Amaris Ramos 

PROJECT PERSONNEL

Mary Beth Meehan is a documentary photographer and Brockton native, whose primary interest is in creating work that raises questions about such issues as immigration, identity, community, and culture. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, and has been exhibited internationally. Meehan teaches Documentary Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston, and since 2009 has directed the “Documenting Cultural Communities” project at the International Charter School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Haidan Hodgson is a graduate of Boston University’s Photojournalism Program, and is the Photography and Projects Coordinator for Artists for Humanity Boston. Hodgson worked directly with Meehan and Wilson to design the project, and oversaw its organization while on-site at AFH. There, she directed student work and led critiques, while also advising in the selection of the banner images. Hodgson will oversee production of the 50-print exhibition in December.

Willie A. Wilson, Jr., is the curator at the Brockton Historical Society, a retired teacher of African-American studies at Brockton High School, and a life-long resident of the city. His passions are the study of national and world events as they affect Brockton and other post-industrial cities, and the sharing of those ideas with students. He has published the “City of Brockton History Trail,” a map and guide that illuminates Brockton’s downtown architectural and social history. Wilson and Meehan worked together to sketch the course’s photography-and-history-based curriculum, and co-taught the course while in Brockton. Wilson also led the students to Boston during the middle two weeks of the project, where they worked in the studios at Artists for Humanity.

PRIMARY RESOURCES

The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities provided key funding for the project through their “Engaging New Audiences” grant. This grant is awarded to projects that are geared toward engaging new or larger audiences with limited access to the humanities. Mass Humanities funds made it possible to cover one teacher’s salary, to engage two student mentors from Artists for Humanities, and to pay student photographers a stipend for their work.

Marc Resnick, Executive Director of the Brockton Redevelopment Authority, provided funds for the banner production and installation, and coordinated with the Office of the Mayor toward image selection. The Brockton Redevelopment Authority is a quasi-public agency contracted by the City of Brockton that is tasked with community development and economic revitalization. Marc led the team in providing funding

SPONSORING ORGANIZATION

Artists For Humanity, founded in 1991, works to bridge economic, racial and social divisions by providing under-resourced youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in the arts. At the heart of Artists for Humanity is the belief that skills equal power and opportunity. AFH has four goals, which provide urban teens with:

  • safe meaningful place where they are respected for their contributions and develop mentoring relationships so important to teens;
  • an opportunity to have a voice through exhibitions, design services, and public presentations;
  • the respect and responsibility of paid employment that promotes self-esteem and financial accountability.  At AFH, young people learn entrepreneurship and get paid for their own creative production.
  • access to educational experiences and support that encourage academic achievement

For the past four years, Artists For Humanity has worked with teen artists from Brockton High School and Southeastern Regional Voc-Tech, through a special grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Together they completed two painted murals in downtown Brockton with student-led teams of young Brockton artists. AFH also worked with Brockton elementary students and Stonehill College mentors to create “Eyes in Sharp Focus,” a student-based photography project in Brockton, which resulted in a 2010 book of the same name. In addition, AFH employs Brockton teenage artists in their Boston-based studio, providing opportunities for paid work with area clients in photography, painting, and graphic design.

CONTACT

For more information please contact Mary Beth Meehan at 401-480-3184,
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