Bronx Junior Photo League: Middle School
Jun 17, 2020 | 6pm
Matthew Almeydas | Gianna Almonte | Fanny Aucacama | Jared Birks | Paloma Boyewa-Osborne | Justin Brefo | Heidi Calderon | Elisa Luna Cameron | Brandon Carchipulla | Anastasia Cardona | Izaiah Cardona | Ana Carmona | Raymond Castillo | Olympia Chen | Jade Delilah Parks | Fanta Diop | Awa Fofana | Fritzi Garcia | Alberto Garcia | Lucki Islam | Savannah Juste | Tiara Maldonado | Tianna Maldonado | Taylor Moorman | Sophia Morales | Reynaldo Olivera | Alexa Pacheco | Carlos Pacheco | Chloe Rodriguez | Pamela Rozon | Tara Smalls | Paola Soto | Nnyala Stark | Adanna Taylor | Eliezer Vargas | Brian Velez | Dylan Velez | Lorena Vicente | Gianni Zambrano
The Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) is proud to present the work of our 11-to-18-year-old Bronx Junior Photo League (BJPL) students, all created during their time in quarantine.
The Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) se enorgullece de presentar el trabajo de nuestros estudiantes de la Bronx Junior Photo League de entre 11 a 18 años, todos creados durante el tiempo de cuarentena.
Students in the BJPL, the Bronx Documentary Center’s free documentary storytelling and college success program for 6th through 12th grade students, have been documenting social justice issues and community-based stories since 2013. Beginning in October each year, BJPL students learn how to make strong photos and to engage with the community beyond the classroom. They photograph and interview local businesses and organizations, neighbors we know, and many we don’t. By February, students begin formulating story ideas for their final projects, multimedia stories, and photo essays. They spend 2-3 months working on these projects, editing in Adobe Premiere and making prints in the BDC’s darkroom.
On March 12, 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the BDC made the decision to suspend all programs and move to remote learning. Our BJPL teaching staff spent two weeks revamping our longstanding curriculum and ensured that our students and their families had the support needed not only to participate in photography classes, but to stay as connected and healthy as possible. We delivered laptops by car and bicycle, paired every student with a BJPL teacher for weekly wellness check-ins, and provided groceries and disinfectant supplies to households in need. We built on our existing community in a virtual space, holding weekly creative sessions--most often led by students--for dance parties, drawing, and protest-solidarity sign-making that continued through the end of the semester.
On March 30th, BJPL classes resumed with a 10-week-long virtual program with a new curriculum building on the compositional, technical, and storytelling skills our students have been learning since the fall. They photographed themselves, their homes, and collaborated with peers through photo dialogues and remote portrait sessions. They created visual and written explorations of their experiences during this time, finding ways to tell stories about mental health, undocumented families, religious practices, and life under lockdown, as well as the direct consequences of COVID-19, including recovering from illness and losing loved ones.
The coronavirus has touched everyone’s life in some way, but the South Bronx, the poorest urban congressional district in the United States, has had the highest rates of coronavirus cases in the country. Throughout our short history, our Bronx Junior Photo League students have always risen to the occasion to decry and document injustices. They’ve stood against climate change, unequal housing opportunities, and violence--just this December, BJPL students demanded safe streets, rallying against a shooting on our block that injured five--and now are safely protesting police violence. So it is no surprise that, despite surviving a global crisis, they have continued to dig deeper on the stories that are important to them, exploring and engaging with the world around them--albeit now a much smaller physical reality.
There are nearly 40 projects presented in this year-end celebration of our BJPL students’ work. These stories, from the too-often-unseen empathetic lens of our youth, are a critical testament of this crucial time in our country’s history.
MAIN IMAGE: “Blurred images of reality. Not thinking clearly.” This image is a part of a visual record of the photographer’s mental health throughout the pandemic. © Elisa Luna Cameron / Bronx Documentary Center