Thursday, August 26, 2010

My First Call...

I called a program called Healthy Start which is a nation wide program started to help teen moms finish school and offer them services. I found the group by reading an article from The Louisiana Weekly, it was originally published in April of 2009, I got to this article by searching on google, teen pregnancy programs new orleans. I got a number from the article which I believe was a fax machine! So I typed in the programs name and got a map of where it is, right by the metrodome! And I found different numbers to contact them, I called one and got a secretary whose southern accent I loved! :) She transfered me to the director who did not answer so I left a message explaining who I was, why I called, and my number. So hopefully I hear back! If not I will try to contact them again, or try to find another contact.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The True Meaning of Pictures

Shelby Lee Adams

­­­­­Photography is a tool that can be used to manipulate people’s views of the world. When faced with a photograph we do not get to choose what we view or how we view it we are forced to see what another shares. In this way photographers have the power to represent an idea or misrepresent one, and weigh the balance in their preferable favor.

            Shelby Lee Adams studied Appalachia, a very rural area whose inhabitants live very primitively and as we might describe it today as old school, or hicks. He has a great interest and admiration for his subjects and it is apparent in his approach and final prints. He spent much time hanging out there, enjoying his subjects company and learning more about them. Adams always made sure they approved of and liked the photographs that they had modeled in, sharing them after completion and asking for acceptance of them. One can shoot a subject how they wish but if that subject does not like the manner in which they were approached it doesn’t matter what you thought you captured because ultimately you have failed for what you shot in reality you completely missed and misrepresented. You have to understand your subjects and misunderstanding leads to misrepresenting. He had a genuine pride in them and photographed them very environmentally and expressive at times.

            In the photograph of the young girl being framed through the screen door I feel is beautifully composed. Not only is this her living space but also the raggedy old door further exaggerates her beautiful youth. The old man in the back seems to express that one day she to will grow old here and that ultimately youth comes from others who hold age. The run down environment is where these people have their home and I think Adams composed them with aesthetic within that special place. I found it ignorant of the older woman who had moved away from the area to be so upset by the photograph, ashamed of her roots. I think that is a personal problem and has nothing to do with the photograph at all. One doesn’t gain pride from the economic value of their upbringing but because of them being happy with who they are and appreciating what nurtured them to become the person that they are. I think that woman as a viewer has very irrelevant biased untrained eyes and is not seeing the picture for what it really is, or is offering. For many people see many things in one image.

            The photograph of the family around the hog I love! The controversy of it makes it that much more interesting. A lot of hogwash, ha, hogwash, was brought up about it because they don’t necessarily practice that anymore and the specific animal that had been butchered was specially butchered for the shoot. But that I feel is the point. They are getting together as a group of people to express something about who they are and by purposefully modeling it shows community within the participation, and pride in the expression of cultural practices whether they are continued to be done or not.

            Overall I think Shelby Lee Adams project was very successful. Photographers need to be conscious of what they see but also about trying to place our eyes on other people’s lives and anticipating about what audiences will think what about what we have photographed. And how much information is necessary to be given aside form the photographs, none, a lot?
Shelby Lee Adams
I like that he named the documentary The True Meaning of Pictures because it raises that constant question of what does a picture mean? And is it acceptable to have a definition be flexible, changeable, and if so is it allowed to be a definition. Or maybe we should just accept that pictures cannot be defined but shown and then an attempt at explaining them is what we do. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

American Experience: New Orleans - Reflective Essay

The film American Experience New Orleans offers a wide overview of the history of the city of New Orleans. What seemed to be a motif of the cities culture is the clash of cultures in its limited plot of wetland. Giving birth to multi-cultural music, celebration, food, and people. A place where people had no personal choice on whether to crash into each other was the public schools. I found great interest in this, and how the main “problem” that arouse was people’s clashing races.

Louisiana as a state was won at The Battle of New Orleans. In this battle were many races and one of the soldiers was our seventh president Andrew Jackson. I recently read a biography on him and having read it, it was a nice connection to the film. This battle had opposing sides obviously but I find it fascinating the adjective American. To be an American you at some level are an immigrant but then again who isn’t. But I wonder when we will make our own race or identity with this word that caries so much meaning, for it seems to be broken when we view melatonin levels. Melting cultures is not only a foundation of America but of New Orleans.

In Plessy V. Ferguson a suit filed over railcar segregation ended in a loss for the black man whom filed it, Plessy. The man had individually stood up for equal treatment of the rights being practiced for his white counterpart. This seemed a large loss for many but in 1954 that got voice in Brown V. The Board of Education, stating segregation was over lawfully. Many whites though still did not change and continued to practice the thrown out ways of doing things. Although it had changed on paper it would take time to have people practice it. I can understand this because people’s molded actions and opinions do not just change in a snap or because of a document signed by someone else but I found it ridiculous that in 1960 there was still so much public hostility towards a young girl trying to go to school.

In the case of Ruby Bridges, being the first black student to practice the right to go to a "white" public school in New Orleans in 1960. The effect is a majority of non-acceptance and whites switching schools or moving away. After picketing outside the building and openly voicing their racist opinions with their heads held high. I viewed them as arrogant and silly, for it is their choice about where their children will go to school but I can’t believe they didn’t fathom that other parents could probably care less about their personal family decisions. If people do not want their children around people who don’t share the same beliefs then they should have sent their children to a private school in the first place. A public school is for the public and the beliefs and opinions of the public vary widely. The fact that they stood there with signs and microphones communicating horribly how they disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling and the choice of this little black girl being allowed to go to school was not going to change it but do nothing but further break up the community.

Schools are where we send all of our children, the people who will replace us someday and take upon them the responsibilities of the world we now uphold. So I am passionately interested in these environments and how they are run and who participates, how schools are similar and how they differ. Their relationship between them as an independent institution and them being meeting grounds for the city. How they are a place where many different kinds of people meet together to achieve the same thing, an education. After watching the film I decided I want to focus my photographic essay on their public schools. As for the film overall I was not surprised by New Orleans rich and significant history and its identity in relation to our nation because it is pretty notorious.