Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lessons in New Ways to See

Lessons in New Ways to See - New York Times: "Anyone who has passed much time in the Louis H. Pink project in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, where Ms. Freeman has spent most of her life, knows that she probably has her reasons for fighting. But by last year it had led her, at 16, to the back of a police car and the inside of a booking cell, exchanging one tough place for another even tougher.

But over the last 15 weeks, mostly in the basement editing rooms of the International Center of Photography in Midtown Manhattan, she and more than a dozen other girls — who all have also been in trouble with the law — have been trying to gain a measure of control over their difficult lives by looking at them through the relative calm of a camera lens. Or more accurately, as seen on a camera video screen, lighted up along the back of an eight-megapixel digital camera.

The program providing the cameras was created last year in collaboration with the Friends of Island Academy, an organization that supports the high school on Rikers Island and tries to help lower the recidivism rate for its alumni.

Art therapy has been used for years to try to give troubled youth a different perspective on their lives, and photography has long aided that process by lowering the barriers to entry: no need to know how to draw or paint, just a willingness to pick up a camera and try. But digital photography is now offering the added power of immediacy, instantaneous images that are proving especially effective for groups of girls like those in the program, mostly black and Hispanic, who struggle as much as or perhaps more than teenage boys with how they are viewed by society."

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