The Santa Monica Human Relations Council launched its third annual Kids with Cameras project this summer with the theme "Public Art as Community Wealth".
The project involved participation in photojournalism workshops by local youth selected from the Police Activities League, Boys and Girls Club, and Family YMCA in Santa Monica.
By showing them the community’s wealth expressed through public art, the children were exposed to a world many of them would not experience otherwise.
"This opportunity will enrich their lives in a way that will alter their futures for the better," says Timothy J. Jackman, Chief of Police.
Fabian Lewkowicz, a professional photojournalist, has supervised and mentored the group in the past. He has been joined by photographers Dr. Charles Haskell, Nick Steers and Bill Beebe and the City Public Art coordinator Malina Moore whose expertise and experience in Santa Monica’s artwork is invaluable.
The youth meet once a week (for eight weeks) exploring the rich displays of public art in the city.
The program finale on Oct. 15 at the Boys and Girls Club JAMS Branch will feature a community dialogue, as well as a reception and photo exhibit with a slide show and performances by the youth organizations.
At a recent seminar on Public art at Santa Monica Public Library, the artists focused on the power public art has in being a bridge between cultures, creating meaning and demonstrating solidarity in action.
"The theme of exploring community wealth through public art establishes a solid foundation to educate the ’whole’ student by learning through enrichment activities such as photojournalism and the appreciation of creative artifacts," says Ilda Jimenez y West, one of the Kids with Camera Committee co-chairs.
"Not only do youth appreciate their surroundings by understanding an art piece that they walk or drive by everyday but through learning about the background of the art and artist, derive a sense of ownership about their community and a love for life-long learning; knowing that this is their community and they belong here," she adds.
Among the artwork to be studied are Santa Monica (1934) in Palisades Park by Eugene Monrahan, Chain Reaction (1991) by Paul Conrad and The Dinosaurs of Santa Monica (1989) by Claude and Francois LaLanne.
The Santa Monica Human Relations Council, a partnership of local community organizations, individuals, institutions, and businesses endeavors to improve human relations and advocates a socially just community through its various projects.
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