Description by Vanessa M Advanced Digital Spring 2008
Artist Statement: 'I come from a household with only one parent supporting four kids. My mom works two full-time jobs and sleeps not even two hours a day. Im the youngest of four kids and out of us four Im the only one who has a job. The topic that my class chose was The Pursuit of Happiness. In my photos I explain that this clearly isnt the place that I want to be. Working and going to school to get my high school diploma and watching my older brothers who are supposed to be good role models for their younger sister. I go home every night to open a refrigerator that is always empty and staying up until midmorning because my brothers are downstairs with friends talking about nonsense. Every time I tell this story, theres this angry part of me that wants to break down and cry. What makes me happy is making my mom happy. Being her first kid to graduate high school and go to college. Being with friends and family that lift my spirit is what makes me really happy. Im going to make it to where I want to be in life and it all starts here.'
The purchase of this photo goes to support Youth in Focus, a non-profit organization providing free photography classes to teens; proceeds are split between the student artist and Youth in Focus.
The mission of Youth in Focus is to empower urban teens, through photography, to experience their world in new ways and make positive changes in their lives.
Youth in Focus gives local youth the opportunity to express themselves visually in a supportive environment. Classes with Youth in Focus ignite the imagination and provide valuable life and work skills. For information, call 206.723.1479 or visit www.youthinfocus.org.
Youth In Focus, Seattle Member Since May 2009 Artist Statement Youth in Focus’s mission is to empower urban youth, through photography, to experience their world in new ways and to make positive choices for their lives. We put cameras in the hands of low income, at-risk youth and place them in a challenging environment surrounded by high quality talented teachers, nurturing adult volunteer mentors, and create a strong community of support. Through photography our students find their voice, identity, creativity, and gain new confidence in their worth and abilities.
Why Youth in Focus?
(Critical Time) We work with youth, 13-19 years of age, who face a variety of challenges in their lives on a daily basis, and who struggle with a combination of race, poverty or homophobia. At Youth in Focus, we feel that we reach at-risk youth at a crucial time – at or before the 9th grade – when 90% of the majority of youth that drop out of high school do during that year.
(Statistics) Nearly 73% of our students qualify for the free/reduced lunch program, 82% are students of color, and 70% live with a single parent or have other living arrangements. In 19 years, Youth in Focus has had more than 2,800 youth go through our free youth development photography program.
(Exceptional Standards) Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) scores for Youth in Focus, in 2011 and 2012, were consistently higher than comparison scores for 1,216 other National Youth programs.
(Direct Attention) We intentionally keep our classes small to facilitate maximum student-adult interaction and relationship building. Youth in Focus creates a healthy, positive place where diverse students feel they belong.
(Nationally Recognized) The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities recognized Youth in Focus as a model program in 2000, providing “life-changing activities” to youth with limited opportunities. Our students have shown their work at the Seattle Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery and the Washington State Convention Center. Click here to see the feature KING 5 did on us recently.