Pedagogy of Hope
Wendy Ewald’s work is directed toward “helping children to see” and using the “camera as a tool for expression.” Starting as documentary investigations of places and communities, Ewald’s projects probe questions of identity and cultural differences.
Over thirty eight years she has collaborated in art projects with children, families, women, and teachers in Labrador, Colombia, India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Holland, Mexico, and the United States. Influenced by Paolo Freire and Kolb experiential learning.
She uses a number of methods for participation:
- In her work with children she encourages them to use cameras to record themselves, their families, and their communities, and to articulate their fantasies and dreams.
- Ewald herself often makes photographs within the communities she works with and has the children mark or write on her negatives, thereby challenging the concept of who actually makes an image, who is the photographer, who the subject, who is the observer and who the observed.
- In blurring the distinction of individual authorship and throwing into doubt the artist’s intentions, power, and identity, Ewald creates opportunities to look at the meaning and use of photographic images in our lives with fresh perceptions.
“Children have taught me that art is not a realm where only the trained and the accredited may dwell. The truly unsettling thing about children’s imagery is that, despite their experience with what adults might call rational thinking, their images tap into certain universal feelings with undeniable force and subtlety.”
“all children have an ability to tell their stories in a very direct or revealing way. Their language is their own, and hey don’t censor themselves, so their baser actions can shift from sweet to violent in a moment.”
Whether I am teaching or photographing, the crucial pat of my artistic process is human interaction. What is it, finally, that I am doing? Is it some sort of visual anthropology?is it education? Photography? Can I combine these elements and be an artist too?
Teaching as ‘political act that enables people to understand the powers that use them and the powers they use’
Pedagogy of hope
In working with others to recognise what they are seeing, what kinds of questions their vision asks of the world and how to allow their perceptions to surface with her own.’. Louise Neri portrait of a praxis in towards a Promised Land
Biography and key works
Wendy Ewald was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1951. She graduated from Phillips Academy in 1969 and attended Antioch College between 1969–74, as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studied photography with Minor White. She embarked on a career teaching photography to children and young people internationally. In 1969 & 1970, she taught photography to Innu and Mi’kmaq Native-American children in Canada. Between 1976–80 she taught photography and film-making to students in Whitesburg, Kentucky, in association with Appalshop, a media co-op. In 1982, she traveled to Ráquira, Colombia on a Fulbright fellowship working with children and community groups; spending a further two years in Gujarat, India. Ewald is married to Tom McDonough, a writer and cinematographer. They live in the Hudson Valley of New York with their son, Michael.
In recent years Ewald has produced a number of conceptual installations—for example, in Margate, England and in Amherst, Massachusetts — making use of large scale photographic banners. Ewald was one of the founders of the Half Moon Photography Workshop in the East End of London; and in 1989 she created the “Literacy through Photography” programmes in Houston, Texas, and Durham, North Carolina. In 1992, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.
She is currently senior research associate at the Center for International Studies at Duke University, visiting artist at Amherst College and director of the Literacy through Photography International program and artist in residence at the Duke University Center for International Studies.
In 2011, Ewald coordinated a project in Israel. She gave cameras to owners of stalls and stores at the Mahane Yehuda marketplace in Jerusalem, Arab women and gypsies in Jerusalem’s Old City, schoolchildren in Nazareth, residents of Hebron, Negev Bedouin and high-tech employees in Tel Aviv. This was Ewald’s first attempt to document an entire country, and the first use of digital cameras and color photography in her international projects.
In 2010, Ewald received a Visionary Woman Award from Moore College of Art & Design.
Appalachia: A Self-Portrait (Edited) Foreword by Robert Coles, Text by Loyal Jones, (Frankfort, KY: Gnomon Press for Appalshop, 1979)
Appalachian Women: Three Generations (Whitesburg, KY: Appalshop, 1981)
Retrato de un Pueblo (Bogotá, Colombia: Museo de Arte Moderno, 1983).
Portraits and Dreams: Photographs and Stories by Children of the Appalachians, with an introduction by Robert Coles, afterword by Ben Lifson, (New York: Writers and Readers Publications, Inc., 1985)
Magic Eyes: Scenes from an Andean Girlhood from stories told by Alicia Ewald and María Vásquez, photographs by Wendy Ewald and children of Ráquira (Seattle, WA: Bay Press, 1992)
I Dreamed I Had a Girl in My Pocket: The Story of an Indian Village with stories and photographs by the children of Vichya, India (New York: Doubletake Books and W.W.Norton,1996)
Secret Games: Collaborative Works with Children 1969-1999 (Zurich; NewYork: Scalo, 2000)
I Wanna Take Me A Picture: Teaching Photography and Writing To Children (Boston; Beacon Press, 2001)
The Best Part of Me, Children talk about their bodies in pictures and words (Boston; New York; London: Little, Brown and Company, 2002) ISBN 0-316-70306-0
Towards A Promised Land (Göttingen: Steidl, 2006) ISBN 978-3-86521-287-0
Who Am I In This Picture: Amherst College Portraits. Amherst: Amherst College Press. 2009. ISBN 978-0-943184-13-5.
Her photographs have also appeared in DoubleTake, Psychology Today, Aperture, Art in America, Harper’s, Creative Camera, Camerawork, and Time-Life magazines.
Learning Through Photography blog
View from the Tanzania project
” In most schools in Tanzania, students are not learning to be creative. But most children in Tanzania are incredibly creative—the way they play, dance, doodle and solve their own problems shows extraordinary imagination. But they see these two worlds—the worlds outside and inside the classroom—as irreconcilably divided. When we ask kids to use their imaginations to solve problems creatively in the classroom, we are hoping to bring these two worlds together, to show that you can be your creative, playful and innovative self as you go through your education.
In my own life and in the lives of the students here, we’re constantly given images of what we should be or what our education should look like. But what if those images were our images? The pictures in our heads, our dreams, the things we see each day, the things we recognize: what if those were in the textbooks or hanging up in the classroom for all to learn from? And what if we saw ourselves in the images of others, saw that we had the same fears and hopes? And after seeing what we have in common, maybe we would be able to understand the differences a little better.
For me, LTP is first and foremost about moments of recognition, of seeing yourself in the story of a great inventor or in the wary eyes of a child wrapped in a loving embrace.”
Wendy Ewald pdf