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.