Book commemorates Through the Lens
Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 06:00 am
Sixteen years ago Craig Richards, curator of photography at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, set out to introduce Bow Valley students to the art of photography.
A photographer himself, Richards created Through the Lens to provide students with an opportunity to discover the joy of photography and through that give them tools to help them build self esteem, confidence and to find ways to connect them with their communities.
“I’ve always looked at Through the Lens as one of the thousands of building blocks in life. The biggest thing is empowerment and finding a voice,” Richards said Monday (Jan. 21).
And as a building block, it has proven to be successful, with over 1,500 students from Banff, Canmore and Morley having taken part in Through the Lens over the first 15 years.
To celebrate that first pivotal period of the program, the Whyte Museum is releasing a 192-page hardcover book, Through the Lens: Encouraging Creativity in Youth.
Filled with 130 black-and-white and colour photographs, the book also includes a DVD that includes a photograph from each of the 1,500 participants on it. The book will be released as part of the Bow Valley launch at the Whyte Museum Feb. 2 from 7-9 p.m. during the Exposure 2013 Calgary Banff Canmore Photography Festival.
“The book is an unbelievable record of an unbelievable program,” Richards said.
“I had no idea it would have gone to a second year let alone 16 years. I’ve always tried to grow the program; that didn’t mean in numbers, but in experience for students and the community and viewers of the exhibition.”
Through the Lens: Encouraging Creativity in Youth also features profiles of 15 past participants and at the back of the book lists of every student, donor and volunteer connected to the program.
The only students who do not have photographs in the book or on the DVD are the 22 students currently enrolled in the 16th year of the program. Their names, however, are in the book and their photographs will be displayed in one of the three Through the Lens exhibitions opening at the Whyte during the Exposure Bow Valley launch.
Opening alongside the book launch and the annual Through the Lens exhibition are Through the Lens: A Retrospective, featuring a selection of photographs from the first 15 years of the program and Beyond Through the Lens, which demonstrates the diversity of photography by highlighting the work of five past participants, Rachel Boekel, Shane Arsenault, Kelsey Brill-Funk, Robert van Waarden and Meg Boorman, who have all gone on to study photography.
Boorman’ s father, Canmore teacher Tony VanderLee who passed away in 2006, was one of the first teachers to be involved alongside Richards in Through the Lens.
Her self-esteem and confidence grew as she learned about light and the finer points of seeing, and when the two-time participant experienced her first Through the Lens exhibition at the age of 16, she knew then she wanted to be a photographer.
“It got me started in real photography. I always had a camera, but this got me started with a real camera to work on and so it really opened my eyes to what photography really was and how to look at light differently,” she said.
But perhaps the single most important moment came when Boorman was given a badge identifying her as a “photographer” and saw her photograph on the wall.
Boorman went on to study photography at the Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, where she now lives. She still credits Through the Lens with providing that initial spark and continuing to inspire her.
“The thing that is most important about it is it’s showing the creativity of our youth who wouldn’t necessarily see that. I think a lot of our youth get written off and the opportunity for somebody who is 16 to have a photo up at the Whyte Museum, to show off their creativity and their passion, is great,” she said.
“It does cultivate the love of the art too because there are so many of us who have gone on to do photography afterwards and I don’t think there’s many programs that can say that.”
Every participant, teacher and volunteer who has donated to the program will receive a free copy of the book
“Because these kids are scattered all over the world, the family should come to the opening and pick up their kid’s book. I’d really like to encourage families and past participants to come to the opening and pick up your book,” Richards said.
Of the 2,000 books printed, about 1,200 are already reserved, with the remaining books for sale with proceeds going back into Through the Lens and other educational programs at the Whyte.
“It’s a legacy book for this project and the Whyte Museum. What it does is it speaks about the creativity of youth and our area.”
Expired Places: Bankhead, Brandy Dahrouge is opening at the same time, but in the Rummel Room.
Dahrouge’s exhibition shares 10 photographs, three of which Richards said are large ones Dahrouge took at Bankhead with a Holga camera.