After swinging through Hartford Stage last week, next we travel just a few blocks away to The Amistad Center for Art & Culture’s Snap! Photography program. Here, ten budding photographers are learning the art of the camera, dark room techniques and what it means to create in both form and content. These talented apprentices are participating in the Amistad’s eighth summer as a Neighborhood Studio.
Master Teaching Artist Caleb Portfolio leads the Amistad program for his seventh year. He kindly took a few moments to share with us his perspective on the value of Neighborhood Studios in the present and all that it arms these students with for the future.
What are the goals for your studio this summer?
Each summer my goal is not just teach the apprentices photographic techniques, but also how to create a body of artwork. They learn about how to develop film, make prints in the darkroom, edit in Photoshop and shoot in a studio, but beyond that I want them to have the experience of developing a concept, creating meaningful work, and seeing it through to exhibition.
An average day in the first couple of weeks would include some kind of demonstration of a technique (camera operation, darkroom instruction, or digital how-to’s) while taking time to walk around Hartford to take pictures. This year we are lucky enough to schedule visits with other artists and even a trip to the Hartford Art School’s darkroom facilities. After that is all out of the way, you’ll find each apprentice working on their individual project ideas, which can include them shooting, developing, printing, scanning or editing their pictures in preparation for their final exhibition.
What about working with students in the Greater Hartford region inspires you?
I think there is a lot of talent and passion in these students, and it reminds me of myself when I was in high school. I am reminded of how “magical” working in the darkroom can be when I see the first-timers develop their first roll or make their first print, and I feel like it recharges my batteries. This year the Amistad and Real Art Ways studios got together to talk about film and photography. We viewed the work of photographer Kameelah Janan Rasheed, saw the film Exit Through the Gift Shop, and had engaging and lasting discussions about the different mediums and ideas behind each.
Being able to talk to other artists from different disciplines about art and ideas is such a critical tool in art making and I was thrilled that the apprentices got to have that experience this summer. Every year I feel honored to be able to teach determined young artists; their drive and creativity continues to inspire me.
Through my years of teaching this program, I’ve seen many apprentices go on to further study photography in college. Some of them have even starting working towards degrees in arts administration. I think that Neighborhood Studios showed them that there are many possible different avenues to take when looking towards a career in the arts. My hope is that through the experience of being to display work in a museum, meeting with the people that work there, and talking with other artists, these apprentices will build a confidence that they carry with them throughout their lives as artists.
A huge thank you to Caleb for taking the time to show us around Snap! Photography! To see what these photographic apprentices have been up to all summer, come to the Amistad Center for Art & Culture’s Neighborhood Studios showcase event, Free Style! on August 1 from 5:30 – 8 pm in the Hartford Courant Room at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street, Hartford. Admission is free and for more information visit www.LetsGoArts.org/NS.