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Gerald Leavell on ETW '11

  • Gerald Leavell, Youth Programs and Expanding the Walls Coordinator, with the 2011 Expanding the Walls artists

Here at the Studio Museum, Gerald Leavell coordinates youth programs and Expanding The Walls (ETW), an eight-month photography-based program for a select group of teenagers.

Working with New York City teenagers from diverse backgrounds and varying tastes and skills in the arts certainly inspires me to be better. Period. I am constantly exploring ways that I can improve my own art, my knowledge of art history and my vocabulary in order to better support the students in their artistic development.

In Expanding The Walls, we investigate our evolving ideas about the effectiveness of art in changing ourselves and society. Then we question if things truly need to be changed. If so, then what? How will we (young artists) attempt challenging the minds of our peers, elders, and those much younger? In what ways can we create a utopia in collaboration with or without infringing on someone else’s vision of utopia?

All of this questioning typically leads to other questions and few answers. Nonetheless, the results of introspection are well worth the effort. After discussing themes that the participants want to explore in their work and taking a look at some of their AMAZING photography, I thought to myself: how else can I facilitate this process? Who is modeling the creative, exploratory, modern and influential photographic art that I can share with some of the most dynamic people in the world (ETW ’11)?

Here are a number of accessible artists that I came up with on the spot to share with ETW artists:

Valerie Caesar - blackseedphotography.com
Anya Dennis - anyadennis.com
Kwesi Abbensetts - kwesiabbensetts.carbonmade.com
Al Janae Hamilton - aljanaehamilton.com/portfolio/photography
Jamil Smith - jamilsmithphotography.com
Wayne Lawrence - waynelawrenceonline.com

- g. Leavell