By Shirley Lin Today staff
Posted 1 month ago
A handful of students from Fort McMurray’s three high schools got the chance to have their artwork featured in the public library.
The project titled Where is Fort McMurray? is a joint initiative with the University of Alberta to engage youth in photography.
The small-scale exhibition, which had its opening reception at the library Friday evening, displays the youth’s perception of Fort McMurray using photographs as a way of expressing their experience of place.
“So what this is, is a conversation without words,” said facilitator Andriko Lozowy.
The project first started in May 2009 and has now reached its two-year mark.
Sara Morrison, who now studies at Keyano College, was one of those students who visited the library on Friday to check out her work. She has two in display: one a picture of swings themed ‘innocence’ and the other of a T-shirt with a dog tag hanging over, themed ‘maturity,’ which is a reference to her boyfriend who was in the army.
Morrison, who was raised here, said she wants her art to send a more positive message of the region she grew up in.
“We’re not the stereotypes, we’re not the rumours that go around,” she said. “No, we’re not a crash-city yet. There is more to us, and we’re actually pretty cool people.”
The U of A group first came up to Fort McMurray in 2009 to see if students would be interested in a photography project, said Lozowy, explaining that it’s about youth considering landscape, community and social connections in relation to digital media. It’s part of a sociology research project at the university, called ‘Social Landscape of Neoliberal Growth: The case of Fort McMurray, Alberta.’
“So we use those as provocation to the youth. What are the kinds of things, images that are depicted of Fort McMurray?” he said.
The idea was pitched to the high schools, classroom visits were made where students handled the cameras.
“Some of them were just caught on that idea, like ‘Oh wow, I’ve always wanted to do this.’ Some schools have photography programs but if you’re not in that, there’s no chance.”
The idea stuck and the project ran. The 12 students involved took part in photography workshops, snapping some 1,800 images which were edited down to the 20 that eventually made it into the library exhibition.
For 17-year-old Paula Campbell, who is at Father Patrick Mercredi High School, her art was one that had her walking down a memory lane. It depicts the old railroad track in Waterways where she used to
live surrounded by a sea of greenery.
“Me and my family just went for a walk, we had a camera, and I started taking pictures in Waterways,” she said. “I remember my Mom telling me about how there was like a railway track and how it used to come to town.”
The exhibition will be featured at the library for the remaining month of February.
The other student photographers and collaborators include: Amani Hachem, Aurooba Ahmed, Jaslynn Houle, Josiane Thibault, Milauni Desai, Nathalia Riordon, Paula Campbell, Priscilla Gonzales, Sara Morrison, Veronica Laya, and Yicuin Chen.