A new photography exhibit displaying the work of Brunswick High School students debuted at the Merrymeeting Plaza on Friday night.
The collection stemmed from a photography class that was taught by art educator Jennie Driscoll and was sponsored through a grant from the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission. The class worked alongside a visiting artist from Portland.
The exhibit is hosted by Brunswick Public Arts in a space provided by the Merrymeeting Plaza and WS Development. The installation is called “How We See Now: New Dimensions of Photography.”
According to Driscoll, through various assignments the class focused on making images that push the boundaries of perception and photography, allowing to students to visualize new realities through their work.
For example, in one project students took images and cut them up to recreate sculptures and then re-photographed them while working with lighting. In another, students froze their images in ice and photographed them over time.
“Everybody definitely had pieces that they we’re really happy with,” Driscoll said. “They felt really good about what they had created – something new, a new way of seeing something.”
The class, which was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, included around 20 students from grade 10, 11 and 12. One of the students included recent Brunswick High School graduate Braeden Trefethen.
“Working from home I had a lot of unique resources, I had a lot of my own props, I had a lot of woods behind my house that I could use that,” Trefethen said. “But I also missed out on getting to collaborate with classmates, which I really enjoyed in previous years.”
Trefethen added that, in addition to Photography II, he took Photography I and a few drawing classes while enrolled at Brunswick High School. “The ones I took were really great experience,” he said.
Justin Levesque, the visiting artist who helped guide the class, said part of his goal throughout the program was to help students expand their outlook for what a photograph could be from an artistic sense.
“The image in and of itself can be a message that is constructed, right, like the students can think about what they want to say and it can be really intentional and not just be a process of observation but be a process of creation,” Levesque said. “The photograph doesn’t necessarily have to be just a rectangle, like a print or a JPEG.”
According to Maine Department of Education Fine Arts Content Specialist Jason Anderson, in conjunction with the Maine Arts Commission, the Brunswick project was part of a larger pilot study by the department that looks to bring teaching artists in Maine into Maine classrooms.
“We were trying to think of the most creative way to adapt to hybrid models and virtual models for instructional delivery during the pandemic,” Anderson said. “The response was really positive; the kids’ feedback was really great.”
Anderson said there were between 10 and 15 applications for the pilot study grant, and along with Brunswick, two other schools were selected. Going forward, Anderson said there will likely be another pilot study next year, which may expand to include performing arts in addition to visual arts.
The student’s photographs are hung inside from the windows of a storefront in the plaza and can be viewed from the sidewalk. The work will be on display through August.