DREAMS CENTER FOR ARTS EDUCATION  
 

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Writing about personal things that were true is always hard but it was good for me, I guess. I was glad to see how lovely my pictures turned out. I’m proud of them.
-Ayla

I really enjoy coming to Dreams on Photography class day. Taking walks around downtown and to different places around the city made me very inspired to take pictures and write about them. I don’t really have a problem letting the public see or hear any of my work. I like to get my voice out.
-Lucas

Working to get ready for this gallery show has been an amusing experience. Writing for the first time with my photos has been enjoyable and I hope to have more experience with this media.
-Sara

Taking pictures is a good expression of myself. I like photographing fences, clouds, water and flowers. I photograph clouds because they remind me of my mom.
-Tyquez

The experience was really interesting. It was fun taking pictures, although writing about myself was a little stressful. I usually don’t write about myself. I’m a fiction girl, but I think I did a good job.
-Wesley

 

Self Portraits & Dreams Exhibit at Era Gallery - May 9, 2008

The Evolution

At the heart of this project is the opportunity to view the world through DREAMers’ eyes, to hear their voices and see the images that capture their imagination. Sometimes what they have to say isn’t easy to hear. They write of loneliness and violence, of confusion and rage, of distancing themselves from friends in order to survive, of fathers who have gone missing and becoming tough enough to take what life has given them. Then, too, they write about learning to be strong in the face of adversity and finding the good in other people. They celebrate the simple stuff (rolling in an ‘amber sea’ of leaves, the joy of learning a new language) and confide the bittersweet (reading the Bible with a mother who has now passed away, dancing in the kitchen during more innocent times). The photographs they’ve taken reflect how they see themselves and explore the nuances of their inner lives.

While some of the pieces in this exhibit may be hard to absorb, they are all heartfelt and honest. This is the beauty of the arts: Instead of keeping complicated emotions locked inside, where they can wound fragile spirits, the students who participated in this project expressed what was on their minds and in their hearts. Some of these young people have been involved with gangs; some have lost a parent; some have been homeless; some have struggled to forge their identity despite feeling different from everyone around them. Through photography and the written word, they have taken their experiences—some ordinary, some heartbreaking—and made them shine. When young people are given the opportunity to express the inexpressible, they are less likely to commit acts of violence against themselves or others. In the end, that’s what DREAMS is all about: empowering young people to find their creative voices and lifting them up for the world to hear.

View Student Work

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