Charlotte Street Arts Centre
Opening Reception: August 19th from 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Exhibition: August 19th – October 10th 2016
Everyone is welcome to attend
What can our world look like or become when we transform experience into images? In a world that moves as fast as light, when do we find time to get to know each other, to tell our stories?
Faster than Light: An Exhibition of Photographs by Newcomer Youth in Fredericton, celebrates many of our city’s newest citizen youth by showcasing examples of their photographs. The exhibition title calls to mind the notion of travel through space-time, through a wormhole. By doing so it playfully reminds us that these talented photographersarrived to Fredericton from a distant place. Photographing helped them create a conduit between their former homes and ‘here’, a symbolic bridge between their ancestral homelands to an ‘alien place’. Strange as our city may seem to us sometimes or foreign to them, today Fredericton is their new home. Later this year, the exhibition will tour to other public venues in the city. Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Niger, Syria, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, and other countries may well have lost their best and brightest to Fredericton.
A machine for seeing, a time and space transformer, in the hands of the young, the camera is a powerful tool that enables self-discovery. It is a means for them to communicate thought and emotion and to share with us what they want us to see. The camera, however, is more than a manipulator of space-time; it empowers those who use its ‘alien images’ to communicate value. Not as subjects reduced by well-meaning journalists but as agents in control of their own self-images, the photographer’s search for identity, community and belonging are embodied in this small but rich selection of prints. Enjoy, reach out; share your stories!
David Miller, artist and teacher, approached Kaylee Stevens, former Program Coordinator at the Charlotte Street Art Centre, with the idea to engage Syrian youth in a photography project. Stevens, together with her colleagues at the CSAC, organized a series of workshops, arranged for donations of digital cameras and supplies from within the community, and secured funding through the City of Fredericton. Saa Andrew Gbongbor, Newcomer Youth Program Developer Extraordinaire, facilitated on behalf of the Multicultural Association of Fredericton. The NBCCD generously loaned cameras and their photography facilities. While the first workshop proved very popular, the need persisted to provide youth with meaningful activity and tangible links to their new community.
Laurel Green, CSAC’s current Program Coordinator, scheduled a second workshop series. Several of the keenest, initial participants enrolled, while the second session also opened the workshop to youth who were unable to participate in the inaugural sessions. David Miller led this new series as well and added a pinhole camera workshop to the weekly sessions. Saint John based photographer, Lorne Power, assisted and provided able darkroom support. Christina Thompson, Education Coordinator at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, taught classes and NBCCD Instructor and Gallery Coordinator Karen Ruet taught another. Post-production and exhibition printing was overseen by Fredericton basedphotographer Kelly Baker. Madeleine Whalen provided more than logistical assistance during several sessions.
Participants learned techniques and how better to compose what they saw through viewfinders and on screens. They explored how photographs communicate intention and create a visual metaphor. Participants experimented with light and shadow and learned how images form inside a camera obscura. They tested the emotive and poetic power of photographs. They drew with light and saw firsthand how their own photographs are not merely fleeting impressions but can become tangible, lasting records of their experience. Participants were encouraged to play as they learned, and they were asked to photograph themselves, their surroundings, the people, friends and family members with whom they interacted; to photograph what they wanted to share and see as photographs.
“It’s empowering to be behind the lens rather than the subject of someone else’s lens, which is really the crux of our project. Rather than being seen as victims, these youth act, they create their own images and by doing so, they begin to shape their identities. This is the basic power of the photographs that these teenagers have made.” David Miller
This is a traveling exhibition beginning in our Penny Gallery at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. It will then move to the Multicultural Association on October 11th – October 31st and culminate with the last installation at the Fredericton Public Library, with an opening on November 3rd in Chickadee Hall.