The Public’s School is a portrait photography project centered on the notion of public schools as essential to community building and belonging.
Public schools are increasingly under attack. Annual budget and board member votes have become flashpoints to dismantle public education and weaponize manufactured controversies. Taxpayers question the value in supporting a district they have little personal connection to. Hate-fueled groups seek to exclude all but those they deem eligible for inclusion.
My portrait project seeks to refute those that act in antithesis to the common good. I aim to create an affirming portrait of the Corning-Painted Post School District, documenting those who build community, create belonging, and weave the tapestry that binds us all together.
In concert with my previous portrait projects From the Shadows and The Tradition Bearers, The Public’s School is part of a continued response to the normalization and elevation of the intolerance and divisiveness that seeks to reinforce and legitimize hatred.
People & Process
The Public’s School will feature students of all ages, teachers, staff, and local alumni. Portraits will feature a mixture of individuals, small pairings, and a few larger groups.
With a goal of creating approximately 30 portraits during the late winter, spring, summer, and early fall of 2024, I will work with the school district and community members to ensure the project is an accurate and all-encompassing, diverse portrayal of the district. Additionally, I will collaborate with each person to best highlight the way they make community and ensure they’re portrayed as they wish to be seen.
I’ll take each portrait with a medium format digital camera using portrait and wide-angle lenses and I’ll edit photos with a focus on tonality, dynamic contrast, and vividness to create a sense of inspiration, importance, and hopefulness.
Please visit the participant form here.
I will exhibit the completed work from November 4 - December 31, 2024, at the Southeast Steuben County Library in Corning. This will ensure the portraits will be accessible to the public and seen by the very people who vote for the school district budget and board members. I will exhibit all portraits uniformly in size, eliminating any sense of hierarchy and treating each as equally important as another no matter their standing in the district or community. Along with this uniform presentation, a supporting statement from participants will accompany each photo.
The Public’s School is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, administered by fiscal sponsor The Rockwell Museum.