The second annual "Everyday DC" photography exhibition opened at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery on Wednesday, January 10, 2018. Students, their families, and Washington D.C. residents came to the gallery to view a curated selection of photographs taken by over 100 students from across the District as a part of the "Everyday DC" project.
"Everyday DC" is a middle school visual arts unit designed by DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Pulitzer Center that asks students to photograph everyday life in Washington, D.C. and confront stereotypes about the city and its residents. Hundreds of students from 12 DCPS middle schools that participated in the unit learned about the technical and artistic components of photography and met with Pulitzer Center grantees before going out into the city to capture what being a student in Washington D.C. means to them. The "Everyday DC" exhibition represents a selection of images from each of the participating schools. The project is supported in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The project is also supported by the Pepco Edison Gallery, which generously donated the space for the exhibition.
(Video produced by Jordan Roth)
The opening event kicked off with remarks from Nathan Diamond, the Director of Arts for DCPS. He began by explaining the wide-reaching importance of the arts for students and their communities. "Our commitment is to providing students with experiences and opportunities that allow them to demonstrate their own creativity, that allow them to understand the role the arts play in culture and society, and the ways in which they can use creativity not just in an arts classroom but really use it to make impact," he said.
Diamond emphasized the integral role of the Pulitzer Center in bringing this event to life and the importance of connecting established journalists with teachers and students in the classroom.
Not only did students take the photographs on display, they were also responsible for curating the exhibit. Four students from Brookland Middle School were tasked with the job of designing the display of the photography exhibit, including placement and theme.
One of these students, Lauryn Tharpe, commented on the experience of curating her first photography exhibit, "Being a curator is an amazing opportunity and as a kid I would have never thought I would be a curator, but look at me now".
Curator Alexis Thomas noted, "Maybe not a lot of people know what DC means to them, but this is what DC means to us".
"It’s our story, it’s our perspective and we are sharing that beauty with you," added Makayla Herrington. "Trust me, I know it’s a story worth being told".
"Everyday DC" was inspired by the Everyday Africa project, the goal of which is to broaden the lens of understanding of what day-to-day life is actually like for the majority of Africans. Co-founders of Everyday Africa, and Pulitzer Center grantees, Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill attended the event and provided remarks on the importance of photography in representation and identity. The photojournalists spent time working with teachers and students, giving advice and encouragement. They also created video resources that teachers used when teaching the unit.
One of the student photographers, Javier Llano, said he was happy he had had the opportunity to learn more about photography. He also enjoyed being able to learn outside of the classroom and go into the city.
Another student said that her favorite part of the experience was learning that, "when you do photography it's not what you're taking a photo of. It's how you choose to take it".
The "Everyday DC" photography exhibition will be on display at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery through January 26, 2018. The gallery will be open to the public Tuesday to Friday from noon to 4:00 P.M. Admission is free.
For more information on the "Everyday DC" unit, or any of Pulitzer Center's education initiatives, click here to contact our education department.