The Josephine Herrick Project is a War Baby born in 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In honor of the organization’s 75th anniversary, we have published the first collection of Herrick’s WWII photographs: Portraits of Navy Day, October 29, 1945 aboard the USS Helena. These never-before seen portraits have been scanned from negatives by JHP Director of Photography, Krista Kennell, and introduced by JHP board member Lt. Cdr. (Ret) Brett Morash, PhD. The book is available for purchase on our website and supports JHP photography programs in 26 NYC communities, including veteran programs at the VA Hospitals, Vet Centers, St. Francis College, and at veteran homes in Brooklyn through Services for the Underserved.
Veterans, then and now, are thrilled to connect to each other and their larger community through the visual art of photography. This book documents Josephine Herrick’s dream come true, connecting the public with images of men who serve their country with pride and joy.
As a volunteer organization serving veterans for nearly seventy-five years, I wanted to report on something dear to JHP for Veterans Day so I picked up the phone and called Sheridan Dean. One of our goals is to train veterans to teach our veteran programs. Sheridan, after taking two programs at the Brooklyn VA taught by Camille Tokerud, assisted her in teaching a program at the Genesis House in Brooklyn, and now he is co-teaching with Linda Kessler at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. He said “what is rewarding is that there are always a couple of veterans in each class who, like me, get hooked on photography.”
During his military service, Sheridan attended aviation school and worked on aircraft structural repair. Returning home to Brooklyn, he had a career with the telephone company. Now, in retirement, he is happy to document events like yesterday’s at Brooklyn Borough Hall: Eric Adams, Borough President, and Commissioner of Veteran Affairs, Loree Sutton, MD, Brigadier General US Army Ret. spoke about housing and jobs for veterans. The transit Authority and the NYC Police Department are both hiring, but Sheridan said he is happy in retirement, teaching JHP programs and doing photography. His goal is to make each photograph museum quality.
JHP honored the Commissioner on October 19th at our annual benefit auction. She is such a fabulous speaker; our guests were ready to enlist! Sheridan said that he is proud of her as a veteran, especially her energy and her positivity. She has made great strides in eradicating veteran homelessness in NYC and in creating jobs for veterans. When I asked what else she could do to help NYC veterans, Sheridan liked the idea of a Museum for veteran’s art.
Last Veteran’s Day, Sheridan and I and a few others spoke about the JHP programs to veterans at St. Francis College. When I asked about his Veteran’s Day agenda for this year, he said he’d be at the Brooklyn Mall: Applebee’s, Red Lobster and Olive Garden providing free dining for Veterans. He also has a dinner to attend on Long Island, hosted by the Knights of Columbus.
Knickerbocker Participants with Volunteer Photographers
Yesterday, veterans from Services for the Underserved (SUS): Knickerbocker Housing culminated their photography program with an in-house photography exhibition. Over the last eight weeks, the small but dedicated group traveled with cameras in tow to various Brooklyn locations learning from JHP volunteer photographers Nousha Salimi and Vik Gupta. On their final meeting, the vets erected their own showcase of photography and accompanyingcaptions. The exhibition comprises photos representing their trips to places like Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
Opportunities to engage photography and communicate with the outside community are necessary for our veteran groups, especially those in shared housing. “This is good for us,” says Israel, resident and participant, “to leave here and see something different. We need it.” The mission of JHP is to support groups like the veterans at Knickerbocker by offering programming that contributes creativity, positivity and new experiences into their lives. This was the second program collaboration between JHP and S:US.
Even more exciting, JHP received an award from the NEA to support teaching artist Nousha Salimi in her photography practice and work in the social justice community. Nousha’s work and the veteran’s photos will reach a larger audience in an exhibition on the Lower East Side from June 22-25.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
NBC Today Show “Hope to it” segment on The Josephine Herrick Project and our program at the Brooklyn VA was featured this morning! It’s a wonderful segment that illustrates how “the power of photography” can make a differnce in the lives of Veterans and other underserved populations.
Special thanks to the NBC Today Show for doing and amazing piece on JHP, to Matt Sweetwood for leading the charge in “sharing our story” across many platforms, to professional photographer and instructor for this program Camille Tokerud, to Beryl Brenner, recreation & creative arts therapist at the VA and to Maureen McNeil, our Executive Director who puts her heart and soul into creating and implementing programs and making sure our organization continues to help others through the power of photograhy.
Photo of Maureen McNeil, JHP Executive Director and Brooklyn VA Participant Felicia Foster Photo @RickGerrity
By Maureen McNeil – Memorial Day Weekend 2014
As we celebrate veterans as heroic young people who risked their lives for their country, today of all days, we must also commit to helping the more than 2.9 million disabled veterans from wars over the last seven decades.
In 1944 Josephine Herrick was tapped by Dr. Howard Rusk, father of rehabilitation medicine, to organized programs, equipment and train women to teach the art and technology of photography to wounded WWII soldiers in NYC hospitals. Today, that legacy of photography and service lives on at JHP. It is no secret that helping others makes humans feel good.
Professional photographer Camille Tokerud specializes in lifestyle photography www.camilletokerud.com but over the last two years she has volunteered to teach portrait and still life photography to more than 50 veterans at the Brooklyn VA Hospital. One of her students, Mai Jun Li, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran wrote:
Photo by Mai Jun Li, Brooklyn VA Program Particpant
“My dog tag is important to me. It was there with me witnessing things good and bad.
Taking photos of my ID is making me feel grateful. When I try to remember the past, my dog tag has been on me for years. It means a lot to me. I hold onto it like it’s saving my life.”
The Josephine Herrick Project photography program at the Bronx VA taught by professional photographer Nousha Salimi www.noushasalimi.com has a waiting list.
Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Sidney Clark said: “It was a spiritual growth for someone like myself. Nousha treated us with kid gloves.”
Veteran Benjamin Marrero said of the class: “Now when I’m depressed I just go outside and take pictures and it helps me relax.”
Veteran and photographer Scott Nidermaier www.nidermaierpicutres.com teaches an ongoing JHP photography program every Monday afternoon for two years at St. Albans VA in Queens, including the oldest in-patient veterans, and some who are in hospice. Scott said: “Sometimes just the opportunity for my students to pick up a Canon Rebel, hold it in their hands, is a huge accomplishment.”
For wheelchair bound Viet Nam veteran Anthony Sodo, photography has transformed his life. He recently captured an image of a hawk on the hospital grounds. He said: “I have three different cameras now and take pictures for all the Wounded Warrior events. I keep busy. I see a lot more than I would, even looking at the photos I see more than looking at the shot.”
Archival image exhibited at the Soho Photo Gallery in April 2014
In April this year the Josephine Herrick Project exhibited of 26 archival images at Soho Photo Gallery www.sohophoto.com . Viewers witnessed the camera as a transformative tool. Young men in plaster body casts, wheel chairs and legs in traction practiced the new hands-on skill, tried out the makeshift darkroom—a sheet over the bed— and shared the photographs of family, nature and animals with their community of family and friends. Today we continue to witness the same healing power in self-expression. Karen Riedel from Rusk Rehabilitation recently participated in a panel discussion about the healing power of photography along with photojournalists Nina Berman www.ninaberman.com and Ron Haviv www.ronhaviv.com art therapist Beryl Brenner from the Brooklyn VA Hospital, and veteran Sheridan Dean. The event was moderated by editor of Popular Photography and American Photo Miriam Leuchter.
Last year St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights hosted a JHP veteran exhibit. A current veteran portrait exhibit opened at Unique Photo in Fairfield, New Jersey this past week. Requests for veteran programs come in from around the country every week. Commit today to helping veterans in need who live in your community, or make a donation on the Josephine Herrick Project website at www.jhproject.com
All photos courtesy of professional Photographer Jill Enfield
By Jackie Augustine
The Josephine Herrick Project created an inspiring panel discussion on April 24, 2014 at the SoHo Photo Gallery at 15 White St. in NYC.The topic was “Photography as a Therapeutic Approach to Healing – WWII to Today.”The session was moderated by Moderated by Miriam Leuchter, Editor-in-chief of Popular Photography and American Photo.Our distinguished panel included War Photographers Nina Berman and Ron Haviv, Brooklyn VA Art Therapist Beryl Brenner, Veteran Sheridan Dean and Dr. Karen Riedel, Rusk Institute NYU. The stories were amazing. The photography and videos were vivid, compelling and gave a graphic look at the ravages of war. The amazing stories of how photography has helped veterans were so moving. We are all so proud to be part of an organization that helps veterans and other underserved popultations express themselves through the power of photography.
Art Therapist Beryl Brenner and veteran Thomas Matonti at Brooklyn VA during a JHP photo class
October 30th, 2013
Josephine Herrick Project will hold its first public photo auction in 35 years on November 4. The 2013 Modern Masters of Photography Benefit and Auction will be held at the Aperture Gallery, located at 547 W. 27th Street in Chelsea. Past and present students, including notable photographers and artists Man Ray, Douglas Kirkland, Art Wolfe, Barbara Kinney, Mike Yamashita and Amy Arbus, will participate in the benefit. Over 90 prints have been donated by 84 photographers and will be available at the gallery showing.
The non-profit organization, originally named War Service Photography, began in 1941, and has been transforming the lives of ordinary people and students through the power of photography. Josephine Herrick began photographing hospital-ridden soldiers during World War II and sending the pictures back to family members with a personalized note as a way of bringing families closer.
“Josephine is not just a pioneer in community service, but as a woman who transcended the social boundaries for women at the time,” said Maureen McNeil, Executive Director of Josephine Herrick Project. “Even today, our mission remains to assist those who want to express themselves through photography. This is attributable to the work done by Josephine Herrick.”
Blooming Flower by Lily from the International High School
Josephine Herrick remained as Executive Director until her passing in 1972, at which point, Jean Lewis, took over its leadership continuing their mission of teaching photography. However, the name of the organization was changed to Rehabilitation through Photography (RTP) as a means of providing therapeutic services to the disadvantaged, lower income children, substance users and the homeless.
This non-profit has become a driving force among like-minded organizations, including The Block Institute, Brooklyn VA, Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, Jewish Union and Birch Family Services.