Photography is for Girls is a social practice photo project that I facilitated in fall 2015 for self-identified female students at JL Ilsley Highschool. Here's the text from the booklet we made:
This booklet comes about as the result of Youth on the Radar, an art-based program offered by HRSB’s Arts Express. For this iteration of Youth on the Radar, we embarked on a collaborative photography art project at JL Ilsley high school in Spryfield.
The group was open to selected JL Ilsley female-identified students. We met on Wednesdays after school until about 5pm for ten weeks October to December, 2015.
A big part of our meetings involved us sitting around the table, drinking tea, snacking and chatting. We spent a lot of time talking about the stigma that students face going to school at JL and the extra pressures that young women face in this context.
The heart of our project involved walking around the neighbourhood, meeting with young women who work in Spryfield, grew up in Spryfield or went to school at JL Ilsley. We asked them about their experiences growing up here and working here. They took us to their favourite places, and showed us their offices. In some cases, the students already had connections to these women. We met with Julia Kemp and Gina Burges, Samantha Snow, Courtney Spencer and Christina Carter, Delia MacPherson and Ella Leving. We also wandered along the Macintosh Run, a trail that runs through the woods behind our school, and walked up to the Spryfield Urban Farm.
All the while we took photos. Most of us used cell phones, but we also had access to an SLR that we were able to use that came from a grant from the department of the status of women.
We looked at the work of other artists for inspiration: Cindy Sherman, Martha Rosler, Wendy Ewald, Carrie Mae Weems, Swoon and JR. We based this publication on one by artist Chris Foster, entitled New Civilizations.
To create this publication, we printed and combed through all 1000+ photos that we took during our wanderings and made collages. The collage process was open-ended, students picked, paired and grouped images that they were drawn to in some way.
Our group was facilitated by me, Zachary Gough, the JL Ilsley United Way Artist in Residence, and ArtsExpress Director, Sabine Fels.
Thank you to our special guests!
Thank you to Ruth Wilkinson for her support of the project!Funding from Youth on the Radar and the United Way Social Capital.