LTP in City Paper today!

Posted on Thu, Jun. 30, 2011

Full Exposure

“Seeing Through Young Eyes” at the Galleries at Moore

by John Vettese / City Paper

The Galleries at Moore are virtually vacant this early on a weekday morning, but the room feels alive with activity. The scores of photos on the walls are surrounded by writing — some framed with a neatly typed page of poetry or prose, some marked up feverishly on the images themselves.

Along one wall, there’s a series of collages with snapshots inset, bursting with bright color. In a corner: black-and-white images of Philadelphia middle school students wearing papier-mâché masks.

On view through Sept. 10, “Seeing Through Young Eyes” showcases the pilot year of Moore’s outreach program, Literacy Through Photography: The Philadelphia Project. A local offshoot of the national LTP initiative founded by artist Wendy Ewald, the program paired six city classrooms with local artists, as well as art education students from Moore.

The goal was getting students to explore themes of identity, family and community while nurturing self-expression. But even though the participating schools are in very different sections of the city, the results aren’t necessarily distinguishable from neighborhood to neighborhood. Photos snapped in Olney could have easily been taken in Overbrook; living rooms in Kensington aren’t dissimilar from those in Bustleton. Community here feels fluid, and perhaps that’s the point, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality on the ground.

This is especially true of much-maligned Kensington, so it’s appropriate that the images from fifth- and sixth-graders at William Cramp Elementary do the strongest job of crafting that distinct sense of place. They draw out their neighborhood as a home to struggle and hardship, but also warmth and compassion. Photos from Cramp are paired with essays; one student describes his home as “not a good place to be.” Another, titled Little Kids in Kensington, talks of gun violence, while the image shows a kindergartner taking aim with a plastic toy gun.

These students worry for their neighborhood, but also want to make a positive impact. One snapshot looks at a baby-faced pit bull, its head cocked curiously to the side — it’s a rescue dog, and the essay outlines utter devotion to the docile, somewhat frightened animal. Another image is visually urgent — a blurred commotion from TV news that might be a crime scene, a fire or something else altogether — but its text focuses on positive “Save the People” sentiments. Many pictures are warm shots of friends and relatives.

Images from the other schools are successful at crafting strong senses of individual identity. Students dress up like graphic novel heroes and villains, or pose with bass guitars and skateboards; one student at Nueva Esperanza Charter writes a poem about how life is like skateboarding: “it goes by fast, it grinds and flips, it makes twists and turns and there are accidents.”

C.C.A. Baldi Middle Schoolers mixed their photos into cut-and-paste collages; personalities are evident in the choice of words and letters they snipped from magazine pages. Grover Washington Jr. Middle Schoolers were asked to imagine their lives in 10 years. One aspirant actor photographed a movie poster; one photographed a collage of news stories about President Obama; one posed in a too-big-for-him uniform and wrote, “I’m 23 and a Marine.”

The most fascinating exploration of self in “Seeing Through Young Eyes” comes from a project that reduces “self” to its barest essentials. Eighth-graders at Dimner Beeber are the ones wearing those papier-mâché masks. Actually, they’re creating them, lying in repose, waiting for the plaster to dry. The photos are shot close and the masks smooth out most facial features. Individuality comes from the eyes, the contours, the crease of the lips — and the way the students respond to seeing their minimized faces. They can be playful, inspiring, vulnerable and insecure. All are excited to discover and articulate who they are.

“Seeing Through Young Eyes,” through Sept. 10, Galleries at Moore, 20th Street and Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-965-4027,



We just received the proof for our publication from the printers and this morning has been spent going through the 127 pages cover to cover…that’s A LOT of copy, but we are ecstatic about how it looks and cannot wait to share it with everyone by the end of summer!

LTP on NBC Philadelphia this morning

Last week Aditi Roy of NBC Philadelphia visited the classroom of Jaime Rowlyk, fifth grade teacher at William Cramp Elementary, as part of their segment Teacher Says. She spoke with Jaime and some of her students who participated in LTP this year, and stopped by The Galleries as well for a few clips of our current exhibition and pending publication.

The segment is very powerful and inspirational, and a wonderful example of how LTP has already begun to impact these students in only the first few months of the project, and hopefully will continue to do so in the future.

First Community Installation

In partnership with the North Fifth Street Revitalization Project (NFSRP), located near 5th and Olney, we are proud to announce that the first community-installation of work by students participating in Learning Through Photography at Moore will commence this July!

Representatives from NFSRP selected 12 works to introduce Learning Through Photography at Moore in the community surrounding three of our five inaugural schools: Nueva Esperanza H.S., Grover Washington, Jr. M.S. and William Cramp Elementary School.

This is only the first in what we hope will be a continued effort to place student work created as part of  LTP in ALL communities that surround our participating schools.

Congratulations to these students and stayed tuned for details about a small ceremony to mark the unveiling in late July!!

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Thank you!

We would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate the opening of Seeing Through Young Eyes: Inside the Philadelphia Classroom & Community this past Sunday afternoon. Over 200 guests including students, parents, teachers, principals and community members braved the annual bike race and traffic headaches to join us for what turned out to be an absolutely wonderful day!

We would like to congratulate all of our students, teachers, administrators, community partners and Moore staff, faculty and students who played a role in making the inaugural year of LTP at Moore such a resounding success. Their dedication to this project has been tremendous and we look forward to the continued growth of Literacy Through Photography in Philadelphia and at Moore in the years to come.

Seeing Through Young Eyes is on view through September 10 and is open to the public Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm, Saturday, 11am – 5 pm. We are closed on Sundays and all major holidays. Next time you are out and about in the city be sure to stop by; you don’t want to miss this exhibition!

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Reception for Seeing Through Young Eyes is THIS Sunday!

We cannot wait to celebrate the inaugural year and exhibition of Literacy Through Photography at Moore with everyone this Sunday, June 5 from 1 – 3 pm.

This opening is an opportunity for students, families, friends, teachers, school administrators and staff, as well as our partner organizations, funders, and the Moore community to celebrate all the hard work that has gone into the first year of this program and the many many accomplishments of all our participating students. If you cannot join us this Sunday, stay tuned for photos from the event to be posted.

For direction, parking information and more please visit our website at