Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Peace Means to Me: A Photography Exhibit

Seeing What Peace Means to Kids

By Mia

A little while ago, the Sprouts of Hope had the chance to go to the opening of "What Peace Means To Me" at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester. This collection of photographs was taken by Roots & Shoots members who attended a workshop on this project at the Roots & Shoots New England Regional Youth Summit that we went to in the fall. One of the Sprouts, Maya, attended that workshop and she became one of photographers involved with this project. It was fun for us to go with Maya to this event and be able to see her three photographs along with all the others.

Here's a picture of Maya with Banafsheh Ehtemam, who is with the Boston Photography Center and worked with Maya and the other Roots & Shoots kids to create this exhibit.

We were really excited to go to the celebration for this show. It was very interesting to see how each young photographer expressed what peace meant to him or her through their photographs. They wrote words to accompany their pictures, so it was fun to read what they thought about in taking the pictures for this project. The pictures they chose for the exhibit ranged from images in nature to groups of friends to a collection of hands. Each photographer had a different and unique style that was reflected in their pictures and writing.

Maya wrote about her photos, which you can see after her words:


Recess can be a tough time for kids. Sometimes their friends want to lay with someone else or they start a game and don’t include the others. I wanted to capture moments when little kids show what it feels like to be a friend. To me peace is being a good friend.

After everyone spent time looking at the photographs and talking with some of the kids who took them, we gathered in one of the museum’s rooms for a presentation. Paula Tognarelli, the executive director at the Griffin, told us that she was delighted to have this photography project shown at the museum. Then Banafsheh Ehteman reminded us of the power of art as a way of communicating with people throughout the world. She also let us know that there will be more art and photography projects like this one through Roots & Shoots. Then Sally Sharp Lehman, the director of New England Roots and Shoots, spoke about the New England chapter’s “Peace Through the Arts” campaign through which kids have used artistic expression as a way to send images of peace and hope to children in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here’s a video of Banafsheh and Sally telling us about these projects.

We then watched an amazing video celebrating Dr. Jane Goodall’s 75th Birthday. You can see it at:

To close the ceremony, one of the photographers, Khalifa Stafford, who is a member of the New England Youth Leadership Council, read a poem she’d written to go along with her photographs. Here are some words from her poem:

How can you love anyone,
If your family was never there to teach you
The meaing of love?
Or simply, how to love?

A person who’s never had a family
Must have never experienced happiness.
They must feel lost, or lonely.

When I think of a person at peace,
I think of them as being with their family.
When I think of me at peace,
I see myself with a complete, happy family.

This was a really cool event and another time that we were able to meet and talk with other New England Roots and Shoots groups. It was also another example of how even though we are young we can do great things like have photos end up in a museum.

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