A program that uses the rich cultural heritage of the community to engage and educate neighborhood youth
Queens is home of the most ethnically diverse county in the nation. It houses 2.2 million people, a community that would be the fifth largest city in the nation if it were a city unto itself. There are 120 languages and dialects spoken throughout this Borough. The Leadership Through the Arts Program at the Queens Museum of Art is a part of a new initiative that seeks to produce upwardly mobile and engaged citizens of tomorrow to effect positive change. These youth will bridge the gap between old and new Queens and be a vital force in the youth movement of Queens.
Very often the visual landscape of Queens is dominated by commercial enterprises with service-providing nonprofits relegated to the basements of churches and businesses. "In Sight On Site" is a community journal that maps Corona, Jackson Heights, Flushing and Jamaica, Queens, headed by the Queen's Museum's Leadership Through the Arts program. "In Sight On Site" is a reaction to the hidden assets of Queens that go undiscovered and the community voices that are often unheard.
Nuts and Bolts:
- Guided by their instructors, Leadership Through the Arts Participants used simple Holga cameras to capture the face of four key neighborhoods in Queens. They met with local community organizations in these areas to meet the people who lived in the neighborhood and what their main areas of concern were. The particpants were then asked by their instructors to discover the hidden assets or areas of beauty that each community already possessed.
- Students then wrote short paragraphs describing the tension points and stories behind the pictures they had taken. These paragraphs along with the pictures were exhibited at Queens Borough Hall and were marked by an opening reception that launched the next activity of the Leadership Through the Arts program: A Bridge Through Social Change and Arts Fund Community Reception
- Enabled youth to enter and interact with the community
- Provided youth a chance to personally reflect on the changes that need to occur in order for communities to prosper, and what their roles in this process were as inhabitants, students, and/or workers in Queens.
- Allowed youth to address "tension points" such as homelessness, youth violence, and immigrant rights. Through these images, the participants related the stories of those who are perhaps "forgotten" -immigrants, people of color, the minority, and the "other."
- Engaged residents of Queens community through exhibition and reception hosted by Queens Borough President
Keys to Success:
- Resources from the Queens Museum of art including instructors and photography materials.
- Assistance from political ties to use the community Hall for exhibition space.
- Active participation from the students involved in program.
How you can do this:
- Locate resources within your community - whether it be local art schools, museums, or community centers where photography resources are available.
- Give the photography project an audio component to capture the neighborhood stories and tension points and share the audio with your local radio networks. Find local cafes and stores who are interested in presenting the artwork in storefronts or walls.
For more information on this program: Queens Museum of Art