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Saturday, July 22, 2017

ASU Exhibit Gives Voice to Urban Youth

A unique traveling photography exhibit, the South Phoenix Photovoice Project, is on display at the Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology through March 12, exploring the stories South Phoenix youth have learned to share through these photos.

Designed to give a voice to urban youth and gain their critical input about health challenges in their own community, the exhibition presents a vast array of images captured by a group of fifth and sixth graders from the South Phoenix community.

These budding photographers gathered every Saturday afternoon for 12 weeks in 2009 at the South Mountain Salvation Army community center. They learned about and discussed issues relating to health, nutrition, exercise, body image and advertising as well as how to share stories about social issues through pictures.

The students delved into topics such as the ethics and power in photography and took “photowalks” around the neighborhood to practice their photography skills, paying particular attention to the aspects of their environment that have an impact on their health. Once they learned the fundamentals, they were given weekly assignments and then returned to share and discuss the photos with the help of project facilitators.

The project enabled the children to use photos to document and reflect on the needs and assets of their community from their own point of view. Group discussion about their photographs led to dialogue about the community issues that affect them. The culminating photography exhibit is a way for these youth to communicate their pride and concerns about their community to policymakers and community members in the hopes of encouraging positive change.

Project co-director Seline Szkupinski Quiroga is a medical anthropologist and assistant professor in the ASU Department of Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies. She says the South Phoenix Photovoice Project provides a valuable opportunity for health care professionals, policy-makers and residents of the area to learn about South Phoenix’s health and well-being dynamics, as seen “through the ‘eyes’ of youth.” She adds that the project also empowers children to recognize and tackle the problems in which they are embedded, “which is the only way we will be able to make sustainable change.”

Quiroga’s presentation at a public reception and panel discussion on March 3 included an overview of the themes the youth used to describe their health environments and the unexpected insights gained from this transdisciplinary collaboration.
Jenny Sandlin, assistant professor in the ASU Division of Advanced Studies in Education Policy, Leadership and Curriculum, discussed how the photo project exemplifies community-based teaching strategies in action for social change. The third panelist, Andrew Hammerand explained his role as instructor of photography and curator of the inaugural Photovoice Project exhibition and shared insights about the dialogue between the youth and project collaborators, and the art-making process.

The South Phoenix PhotoVoice Project is funded by the Association of State & Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona State University and the Salvation Army Phoenix South Mountain Corps Community Center.

The free exhibit is hosted by the ASU Museum of Anthropology is in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, located at the corner of Tyler and Cady Malls on the ASU Tempe campus. Visitor parking is available in the nearby Fulton Center garage on College Ave. or in metered spaces around campus. For maps and parking information, see http://asuma.asu.edu/VisitUsor call 480-965-6215.

The public reception and panel discussion was sponsored by Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Late Lessons from Early History project, South Phoenix Collaborative, ASU Museum of Anthropology and the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education.

For more information, contact:
Catherine Nichols 480-965-6215
catherine.nichols@asu.edu

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