Concrete Safaris has curated its first virtual gallery, “Youth Photo Expo 2020,” opening on December 1, 2020, and running through December 31.
Along with the photos captured by Concrete Safaris’ students, the virtual exhibition will feature videos, testimonials by the young photographers, and a store with merchandise featuring the images available for purchase.
You can help CS make a difference in the lives of East Harlem youth by RSVPing to their virtual art show. To RSVP, make a donation here. A password to enter the event will be distributed on December 1 . Donations benefit future Concrete Safaris youth programs focusing on youth transforming the world starting in their own backyards.
Concrete Safaris, a non-profit 501(c)3 after school program, started their community art project as a way to give groups of after school students (ages 7-11) and youth (ages 14- 15) a lesson in photography theory and the basics of how to frame a photograph. The idea originated back in early 2016 when CS staff worked with photography professionals and photo editors to create an adaptable lesson plan for young people to learn the basics of digital photography, put their new outdoor leadership skills to use, and showcase their work for the community.
With no selfies or snap chat filters to fall back on, the children and youth were provided with digital cameras, taught photo theory, and sent outside to practice different methods of capturing beautiful images allowing them to explore self-expression and nurture an active interest in the beauty that exists around them every day.
CS Programs Director Christopher Hartsfield pushed each aspiring photographer to see the world through their own personal lens, asking thought-provoking questions each week.
With the unforeseen challenges for young people brought by COVID-19, the program took on an added layer of importance for the students. Without the social outlets the students were once used to, the programs provided them with a unique reason to get outdoors. “In the photos taken before COVID-19, the children captured their classmates in nature, on playgrounds, and in the great outdoors of East Harlem. But, in the photos taken by youth after COVID-19 restrictions had overtaken New York City, the youth’s photos demonstrate their collective longing for nature as an escape within the City.“ Levine recollects, reminding us of the complications in pursuing an outdoor student art project in the midst of a pandemic. “They’d already been couped up for 4 months, we didn’t start the summer program until July 27th… the immediate COVID photos are not featured. Some of the children moved because there was so much sickness in their homes, and then they were not allowed to leave their relatives’ homes.”
For those able to participate, the project was a success. The resulting selected photos from the children and youth groups have been organized, edited, and are now ready to share with neighbors and friends.
Special art projects like these capture the neighborhood as children and youth snap stills of their concrete safaris. Launched in 2008, Concrete Safaris prepares youth in East Harlem and beyond to lead healthy lives and shape their environment through outdoor education, play, exploration, and community engagement. All proceeds benefit participants and future outdoor art and nature programs for children and youth at Concrete Safaris.
Find out more at concretesafaris.org.