belongings & belonging

This year's project with students from Cohen Hillel Academy & Salem Academy Charter School in partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum concluded in wrapping up a year long examination considering how our belongings connect to our identities, our cultures and our values.

What do our belongings reveal about who we are, what we do, and what we value? How are our belongings similar to those of others? How do our belongings differ than the ones owned by young people across town or a century ago?

Guided by these questions and PEM’s Connecting Community philosophy to “present and interpret works of art and culture in ways that connect art to the world,” this project linked two communities of learners who would not otherwise have a way to meet one another and get to know each other’s stories. 

My role was similar to prior years (2015, 2014) in that I photographed each session to show the interaction between the student's and the lessons while highlighting the connections between them and the community that evolved. For this year's program, the student's were asked to bring in special belongings that gave insights to their identity, and I photographed in a few ways - one of their object and a portrait of them with their object. All portraits of their objects were taken at a downward angle as I wanted to show their feet as shoes reveal another aspect of identity. For the portrait of them with their object, they were free to pose in any way they wanted to express their personality. Lastly I took a simple portrait of each student and only asked that they cross their arms and lean against a wall. 

The collection of photographs was once again designed into a book alongside insights and thoughts from the students and the photographs were displayed at a final class session held at the Peabody Essex Museum.