Photo by: Linda C.
Navy Veteran Linda Catlett recently sent a thank you letter to JHP Executive Director, Maureen McNeil, for the amazing opportunity to learn photography at the Bronx Vet Center on Morris Avenue. JHP teaching artists, Robin Dahlberg and Adam Isler, were well received by Catlett and her fellow servicemen, no matter where they were on the photography expertise scale.
Catlett note reads, “As a novice with no experience behind a camera, I am happily surprised to realize a new joy in my life that will compliment my new career as a published author. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity for betterment and enriching my life. The Josephine Herrick Project is a gift that keeps on giving.”
Photo by: Dondi M.
Photo by: Luther C.
Photo by: Marco B.
The Portland Art Museum hosted a summer event on June 16, 2016 celebrating military veterans, including sixty 8 x 10 photographs taken by nine veterans in the Josephine Herrick Project program at the Portland Vet Center. Nine combat veterans, from Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, attended the program at the Vet Center over six Saturdays, from April 2 to May 7th. All printing was paid for by the JHP volunteer photographers. This was the first time JHP has had an active presence in the Northwest and the program was well received.
Jack Kane, a US Army veteran who learned photography during his service in Germany, recently retired from the transportation industry and approached Maureen McNeil, Executive Director of JHP, about volunteering with veterans and attended a week long training in NYC in the fall of 2015. McNeil introduced him to NYC veteran programs and issues, the JHP staff, photographers and participants. They visited Jean Cooney at the Bronx VA Hospital, Francisca Nazario at the Queens Vet Center, and Brett Morash, JHP Board member, at Services for the Underserved.
In Portland, Jack recruited volunteers who attended training sessions with JHP Program Director Afiya Williams over conference call and skype. Doug Huegli was the primary instructor with 20 plus years of teaching photography at the high school level and his part time work as a commercial photographer. Ellen Lodine, a retired high school teacher, was assisted. Randy Carpenter, an avid amateur photographer also assisted in a coaching role. Kane attended each session and presented the “introduction” lesson. Rosemary Knapp continues to assist by contacting organizations interesting in hosting public showings of the veteran’s photography.
Photograph by: George (participant)
“JHP recently received a planning grant to grow veteran programs in upstate New York,” said McNeil. “Working with a talented businessman and veteran Jack Kane made the planning and execution of the long distance program relatively easy to maintain the JHP brand and quality of our programming. I am sorry that we did not have travel funding in place to attend the Portland Museum of Art opening.”
Photograph by: Chris (participant)
Thank you Jack Kane, The Portland Vet Center, The Portland Museum of art, all the volunteers and participants. Several days after the event ended, Kane was contacted by the Portland Art Museum and the JHP veteran programs were invited to attend the event again in 2017.
Photograph by: Art (participant)
What an amazing opening reception we had last night at La Mama Theatre featuring Linda Kessler‘s “Subway Sleepers” and the work of program participants from the JHP and Brain Injury Awareness of New York State partnership!
We are so grateful for all that attended and shared love and energy with us. Your support makes it possible to continue to do the fulfilling work of enhancing lives through photography!
Many MANY thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts for supporting our community work and believing in our mission. Here’s to another great exhibit!
Looking Back on Photoville 2015
By Ariel Alyce Bornstein
As the chill of late October portends the winter frost, I’m looking back to a summery September Sunday, when I attended Brooklyn Bridge Park’s annual Photoville exhibition as a volunteer for the Josephine Herrick Project.
Being a new volunteer and a first-time Photoville goer, I felt slightly uncertain walking through the long rows of corrugated shipping containers, each one bursting with light and color from the displays set up inside. Upon reaching container #47, Maureen McNeil’s friendly face welcomed me into the booth, which was decked out in all things JHP.
On the left wall, tacked up with knobby magnets, a perfect grid of prints represented student works from JHP-lead programs. Facing opposite was a selection of professional works from several of JHP’s volunteer instructors. On the back wall of the much-deeper-than-it-looked container, an informational poster with Josephine Herrick’s formidable image held court between the two separate displays. The layout was very effective and almost seemed like an allusion to the charitable actions Josephine took towards bringing quality photography instruction to “communities without a voice”.
Settling in, I joined Maureen in providing info and insight on the foundation to the well-heeled hipsters, late-summer tourists and old school New Yorkers who browsed airily through the exhibits. It was inspiring to see the genuine interest visitors had in JHP’s mission! Many expressed a desire to learn more about the foundation and ways to become involved.
Throughout my volunteer shift, one particular student work continued to catch my eye and interest. Against a plain backdrop, a grey-weathered veteran peered up with a playful Mona Lisa smile, his bohemian beads unhidden from beneath the forest green work shirt that matched his military cap. His benevolent eyes trailed my movements in and around the container, reminding me of the servicemen who inspired Josephine to begin this project 75 years ago.
As the afternoon cooled, a gusty rain whooshed in from the water, bringing new spectators to our container. Herding them in, we brought their attention to the displays and showed off the glossy photo-books from past programs. The atmosphere was festive as rows filled up on the sign-in mailing list and piles of postcards flattened towards the table.
A brief lull in the rain brought my volunteering shift to an end. I returned to Manhattan feeling shiny and inspired by the kindness and incredible sincerity of our Photoville booth visitors.
Thank you so much to Maureen and the entire JHP team for giving me the opportunity to volunteer and report on such a remarkable event!
– Ariel Alyce is an NYC-based writer.
JHP Program Coordinator with dedicated teaching volunteers Susan and Romina.
Isadora, JHP volunteer videographer, standing and smiling with her Photoville print!
The participant wall at JHP. Photos shown here were captured during one of the 2014 JHP programs in the NYC community.
JHP and Brooklyn’s Block Institute: Developmentally Disabled Students Learn Self-Expression Through Photography
The Block Institute, based in Brooklyn, New York, was founded in 1961 by Rabbi Block who decided to work with mentally challenged adults who had been denied the right to attend bar mitzvah classes. Since then, the Institute has established a health clinic as well as several programs for both adults and children. While receiving the care they deserve from the Block Institute, the Josephine Herrick Project (formerly Rehabilitation Through Photography) began a complementary program to help these people tap into their creativity through photography. By providing photo gear and professional photographers to teach classes, the Josephine Herrick Project helped to free the Block Institute attendees from the social stigma of “developmentally challenged” and discover their inner talent. These photography programs became a huge success in more ways than one: not only did the students learn to creatively express themselves, but it gave their therapists and teachers extraordinary insight into how their patients and students view the world around them. This moving short film provides a closer look at what the Josephine Herrick Project has done in conjunction with the Block Institute. We look forward to creating many more successful programs like this one at the Block Institute so we may better understand the world around us through the artistic vision of everyone!