how do you see the world? Do you see beauty in everyday life? When you look at an image, do you absorb it and gain a deeper understanding of what you see? These concepts and more are the driving force behind the new Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County art exhibit. The exhibition, titled Welcome to our world: visual literacy and collective knowledge, feature 15 photos captured by students, on display in the Ringling Museum’s Community Gallery from May 4 through August 2.
“For teenagers, it’s not always easy to express how they feel,” says Robert Rogers, volunteer and community relations manager at Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County. “They grow, develop, learn and assimilate everything. They discover how to process all the information they are confronted with. This project was born from that. We wanted to give them options to express their feelings and ways to process the information that comes their way. That’s why we started looking at visual literacy and the concept that they understand what they see through these cameras. »
The photography club consisted of 10 members. And while most of them got their first experience behind the camera through this project, this small group managed to capture an astonishing 700 photographs during the five-week program. Imagine how difficult it was to organize a collection of only 15 for the exhibition.
This project, like many other Boys and Girls Clubs, would not have been possible without the support and dedication of club volunteers. For the photography club, this included professional photographer Alan Cresto.
“We always want clubs to be educational opportunities for our members,” says Rogers. “Alan was able to help them explore the job skills needed.”
And that was really all it took. Once club members became familiar with the cameras, they were off, finding inspiration in everyday life and capturing images that spoke to them.
“They’re eager to learn,” says Rogers. “They took the opportunity to share their voices and feelings and express what they were going through using a different medium. It’s just incredibly poetic images that capture those moments in such a truthful way.
Although this project was about photography and exploring the art form, it was at the heart of the very foundation of Boys and Girls Clubs – the community. “They found inspiration in each other,” Rogers recalled. “They fed off each other. That’s the whole story.”
The Ringling Museum Community Gallery is located at 5401 Bay Shore Road, on the first level of the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Center for Asian Art. Admission to the gallery is always free. For more information, visit the Ringling Museum’s website.