Marlboro College

NewsPress Release: 10/21/02

BRATTLEBORO, VT ­ Working in the darkroom is not enough for some of the students in the Marlboro College photography department. For 10 years now, Marlboro College photography students have been taking what they learn on campus and teaching it to younger students through Brattleboro’s Insight Photography Project.

Insight was co-founded by John Willis, a professor of photography at Marlboro College and local photographer Bill Ledger. The project offers classes to any youth in Brattleboro who want the opportunity to express themselves through photography. The program finds its teachers in the Marlboro College student body and volunteers from the community. The project has changed and expanded greatly in its 10 years, while remaining true to its basic ideals.

"We've added many dimensions to our programs; the program has been defining itself more," Erin Barnard, a Marlboro senior who works as co-director of Insight, said. "We want to serve more youth, and have gotten more youth. Though in turn we need more space for a classroom," she added.

The goals of the program have remained intact throughout the years. The program is designed to allow any person between the ages of 11 and 18 to take a photography class. A donation is requested, but not required.

"(The payment) is certainly not required. The teachers don't even know if the student has paid or not," teacher Sarah Swift, a Marlboro junior, said.
The important aspect of the program is to help the kids. "The emphasis is on providing an opportunity for people who otherwise cannot afford a class to take a class," Barnard said.

The collaboration between the student and the teacher is an integral part of Insight.

"There is not a huge distance between the teacher and the student. I learn a lot from the kids; where they are coming from and their experiences with the world,” Barnard said.

Insight provides students with a camera and fully stocked darkroom for their use during the course. The classes range from Intro to classes with specified goals. This fall, one class offering is centered on grief.

"I try to give my students the opportunity to express themselves through
photography and get out anything that is going on in their life," Swift said.
The kids in Brattleboro have made Insight their own. Students often become regulars after attending one of the Insight classes. The “incentive program” makes this even more probable and possible. This program allows students to earn their own cameras after taking an Incentive class and agreeing to complete all assignments and mentor future students at Insight.

There are many big plans for Insight in the coming year. They have collaborated with The Point, a project similar to Insight in New York City, several times.

“Last October we hosted their students for a weekend and talked ‘photo,” Barnard said.

In the coming year, Insight and The Point hope to go the Pineridge Reservation in South Dakota to share the groups joined love of photography. They hope these collaborations will continue, allowing each group to host the others.

Insight Photography Project has been a very important place to many youth in Brattleboro. Their students learn the art of photography and much more.

“Our goal is to provide them the opportunity to use photography as a medium of expression to find their place in society. It is for anybody and everybody,” Barnard said.

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