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Charlotte photographic initiative boosts teens as visual artists
Creating Exposure mentors work with students
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 12:43 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

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Creating Exposure sponsors a visual arts initiative for teens.

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Creating Exposure challenges students to take their photography skills outside the classroom.

The current itineration of the free teen visual arts program began meeting at the Scaleybark branch of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library and the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Arbor Glen Outreach Facility in August. They will continue to hone photography, videography and journalism skills through April 25. An additional five-week program will be introduced at the Steele Creek Library in February.

“The key in what we do is giving exposure,” Creating Exposure Founder and Executive Director Mark Pendergrass said. “We bring professional and amateur photographers in to teach. We give the students hands-on experience, not only in class on Saturday, but they get invited to shoot for other organizations throughout the program. Not only do they learn the technique, but they put it into play.”

In addition to covering local organizations such as The Charlotte Post Foundation’s Black Lives Matter Charlotte Initiative, the Steve Smith Foundation and Profound Gentlemen, the program also hosts a series of free community workshops. They are scheduled to host three at the West Boulevard Library, with the first taking place Nov. 9 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. On Jan. 25, they will host a glamour photo session for seniors, followed by a prom and graduation photo shoot for students on April 25.

“It’s key giving them the experience because some of them have never had the experience of shooting with professional cameras and equipment,” Pendergrass said. “We want to encourage them to take that to another level. As students, they may major in photography, graphic arts, videography. They may want to become writers. That’s what we want. We want to give them that experience and that exposure, not only in a classroom setting, but outside of that.”

Former students felt the impact of the program, and have returned as teachers to train the next generation.

“We have four instructors who were former students,” Pendergrass said. “These are young adults who are 25-28 who I met when they were teenagers. Now they’re back as instructors.”

Sarafina Wright, a producer for WFAE (90.7 FM) and the initiative’s journalism instructor, studied journalism at Howard University. Kevin “Surf” Mitchell, who attended Northwest School of the Arts, is teaching photography and videography.  The owner of Surface Media Group recently collaborated with the Levine Museum of the New South on a documentary. His best friend Christoper Taylor teaches Photoshop and light room techniques. Joseph Johnson was the inspiration behind Creating Exposure’s “Behind The Ink Project,” and remains active with the program. Photographer Kevin “Royce” Bethea, Johnson’s close friend, is a mentor.

“These are all things they are teaching, because they kind of kept that going from the program,” Pendergrass said.


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