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Art and Activism: Park Award for Photo Activism

Written by Alexandra Evans '13
10/1/2013

student looking at a fossil

Photography can be a powerful tool to affect social change, and Ithaca College students have hands-on experience using their photography skills to benefit the Ithaca community. As part of the Park Award for Photo Activism class, students were paired with nonprofit organizations in Tompkins County, linking the college to the greater Ithaca community.

One student documented the public school children who are served by Kids Discover the Trail, a program that sends children on field trips to the Ithaca Discovery Trail locations. Other students captured people who benefit from nonprofit organizations like Better Housing for Tompkins County, Planned Parenthood of the Finger Lakes, Slaterville Ambulance, and The Learning Web.

The project was cosponsored by the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County (CAP), Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications and the Park Foundation. Students had to apply to be selected for the course.

A jury including National Geographic photographer Lynn Johnson reviewed the final work, and cash awards were donated to the nonprofit organizations represented in the top three winning projects in the names of the respective winning students. 

The winners were Rachel Woolf ’15, who won first place for “Dementia at Longview” about two elderly men with dementia; J.P. Keenan ’14, who won second place for his work with the Dryden Road House, a part of the Franziska Racker Center that provides services for teens with disabilities; and Alex Mason ‘14, who won third place for his work on the Friendship Donations Network, which takes surplus food from Wegmans and delivers it to needy families.

At the end of the semester, students presented their work in a screening at Cinemapolis and in a month-long formal gallery show on The Commons.






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