Vashon through a Lens features photography by a select group of students from Vashon High School. The photos presented are the result of a quarter-long investigation of digital photography, in which the students explored themselves and their peers as the subjects of contemporary art and narrative. These photos, candid and posed, give public view to a multitude of personalities, as documented by the students themselves. Presenting this work on the walls of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis formalizes and legitimizes what they do every day—take photos—and gives the students an opportunity to consider their efforts in the context of contemporary art. Students come into class at ease with the ubiquitous snapshot or selfie, but the work displayed here is the result of deliberate creative choices, and reveals the development of their artistic vision.
The photography on view is part of a larger zine project led by teaching artist Tiffany Sutton, in her second Vashon residency. Working with her Introduction to Art students, she used the work of Paul Mpagi Sepuya as a stylistic reference point, examples of which can be seen where the apparatus of photography is made visible in the pictures. In this, the second year of the Vashon-CAM partnership, the school and the museum continue to offer a project-based art curriculum to approximately fifty sophomores. CAM is actively engaged at the school and serves as a conduit for further involvement with the Museum through exhibition tours, workshops, and the opportunity of enrollment in such programs as New Art in the Neighborhood and Teen Museum Studies.
Vashon through a Lens is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Jessica Donovan, Guest Curator, with Miriam Ruiz, School and Community Programs Manager.