My Viewpoint

Student Images: Shipping and Receiving

Twenty-two youth ages 12–21 in the Art Mentoring Program at Venice Arts in Venice, California, and

the My Viewpoint Photography Program in Dupree, South Dakota, participated in this photographic and

personal storytelling exchange over 2010 and 2011.

Using 35mm cameras and black-and-white film,

students shot photographs documenting their lives and surroundings, then shipped the film across the

country to one another, to be exposed again in the cameras of their peers.

This process—called double

exposure—yields unpredictable and surprising results that emerge only after the film is processed:

In an age dominated by the instant

gratification of digital photography, which gives up its secrets immediately, these images reveal theirs

slowly, rewarding slower, more contemplative viewing.

Together with rolls and rolls of film, the students also sent letters sharing information about their lives

and learning about those of their peers across the country. They found differences—one would not, for

instance, expect to be able to lie on a main road in Los Angeles for any length of time without cars

coming by, as one youth describes in Dupree. Yet despite—or perhaps because of—their disparate

geographical locations,the youth were astonishingly open in their letters to one another. Writing back

and forth, they bonded over the similarities they found in the fundamental challenges and aspirations in their lives: love for and conflicts with family, the desire to pursue education and find a career that is

fulfilling, and a continual striving to grow as creative individuals.