Black and White Film Portraits from the Rhode Island Training School
As the Photography instructor for the AS220 Youth program I learned that successfully teaching photography, or anything I believe, at the Rhode Island Training School (RI's juvenile detention facility) a personal connection with each student is required. Each student is there because something has violently wrenched their lives out of whack. There is trauma, anger, disappointment, mental illness and fear. Almost everyone incarcerated at the RI Training School comes from a background of poverty. With all this being true, these are still kids. If most of these kids had not grown up in poverty they would not have been sifted out by society to live here behind these walls, within site of a luxury mall, with no access to the outside beyond the razor wire fence. When making portraits that do not reveal their physical identities we needed to collaborate. Each portrait was made as students decided how they wanted to present themselves and then trusted that myself or a fellow student would portray them respectfully. From my fifteen years of weekly engagement with these students has come a body of work I hope some day to be seen by more eyes.