Camp encourages creativityPublished 9:29pm Friday, June 3, 2011
By Alison McFerrin
The Selma Times-Journal
Black Belt high school students are looking at the big picture this summer at Black Belt 100 Lenses Summer Camp.
“I’m really looking forward to it actually starting so I can not be working with paperwork every day and actually be working with kids,” co-director Elliot Knight said.
The camp runs June 5-9 for 45 students selected from high schools in each county in the Black Belt, including two students from Dallas County.
“It’s not like a typical summer camp,” co-director Kristen Law said.
Instead of hiking and making lanyards, the students will learn about art forms and using art to document and understand problems in their community.
“We’re trying to work in the community involvement into all aspects,” Law said.
Before the camp starts, each student is loaned a 35mm camera and two rolls of film. They photograph what they see in their communities, and each student has 48 photos when camp begins.
“We want them to really think and plan ahead for the images they are taking,” Law said, explaining the choice of the 35mm cameras for the project. “We’re trying to really give them the full photography experience.”
The community involvement aspect will be paired with an intensive week of the arts.
“They’re going to be immersed in a week of the creative arts from creative writing, the performance arts, more photography and printmaking,” Law said.
And these campers won’t be staying in cabins in the woods, either. Students will stay in dorms on University of Alabama’s campus, and Alabama students will be involved as leaders. Some of the activities this year include visiting a letterpress printer and printing invitations to an exhibit; working with mosaic artists; and printing T-shirts during a screen-printing project, Knight said.
“One of the things that is most exciting to me is when they get there and … start getting to know each other, then at the end of the week, it’s like these students have known each other for years,” Knight said.
But the camp isn’t all fun and games — there’s a serious aspect as well. Thursday, volunteers from the community will help the students come up with ways to address the problems in their communities.
“They’re able to take that time, concentrate on what’s happening in their own backyard and, hopefully, make a difference,” Law said.
Felecia Jones, director of the Black Belt Community Foundation, said she’s always amazed at what the students come up with.
“I think they’re so much more socially conscious than I was, or than others probably were, at that age,” Jones said.
Law said she’s ready to get started.
“I’m excited to see them realize how powerful art can be as a tool to communicate with others,” Law said.
Jones said this program depends on the cooperation with other groups.
“I always want to thank the donors and supporters of the program,” said Jones, which include the Black Belt Community Foundation, the University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. “If it were not for them, we would not be able to make this program possible.”