A B alt im o re Un i te d Vi ew f i n d er â€™s P ro je c t
This book is filled with different perspectives, different views, different people. Like a magnifying glass, like a microscope, like a viewfinder. This book isn’t just for the Viewfinders, not just for documentation. This book is for US. Not us. But the GLOBAL us. This book is for the neighborhood businessman who invests in his community and whose “word is his bond”. For the unappreciated artist who contemplates giving up what he loves. For the kids up the block who view the world through naked eyes, seeing the simplicity in a complicated city. For the little girl who can’t wait to grow up and go out into the world, armed with a camera and a purple t-shirt. This book is for the boy with the bright smile and the big laugh, so that he won’t have to accept anyone’s view of him. This is for the elderly woman, who walks the streets of Baltimore like royalty: May she see her city through younger eyes. And for our friend across the street who has found a way to speak. This is for the outsider looking in: we see what you see, we hope this book will change your perception of our community so you will know how things ARE versus how they SEEM. This is for the artists who will stop @ nothing to give the ultimate gift: a voice. This is for Viewfinders, This is for Baltimore, This is for the Global community, This is for YOU. Danisha Harris
Shannon Montgomery - Age 12
Francis Keeling - Age 12
Dasha Flowers - Age 12
Derrick Smith - Age 13
Kendell Jordan - Age 12
Danisha Harris - Age 16
Marquise Weems - Age 15
Shandasha Nixon - Age 13
Mission The Baltimore United Viewfinders (AKA The Viewfinders) are a group of East Baltimore youth leaders. They seek to tell the collective story of their community from their perspective as young people through photography and video.
Current Community Partnerships: The Club at Collington Square Finding Our Wings Collective The Circle of Positive Black Men MA/MFA in Community Arts @ Maryland Institute College of Art The Julie Community Center @ Tench Tilghman Elementary School
The Viewfinders are an arts collaborative of 8 middle and high school students. All of us come from after-school programs within East Baltimore; The Finding Our Wings Collective, Julie Community Center at Tench Tilghman Elementary School, and the Club at Collington Square. The Viewfinders came together in January 2011 and ever since we have been telling the story of East Baltimore using cameras and video. This book is our point of view of our community. We have come along way and we all share a dream of creatively expressing ourselves. When we come together we form not only a group but a family as the Baltimore United Viewfinders!!!
The Viewfinders have created their own pages to introduce themselves to you, the viewer. Following these introductory pages are the Viewfinders photographs and their Eastside Stories.
What We Learned “The Viewfinders taught me how to not to criticize other peoples work in a negative way. You should try to give advice to help someone make their work better.”
- Marquise Weems
“I have learned not only camera skills but also social skills. When I first started the Viewfinders I was a very timid girl, but over time I learned that we are all family. We laugh, trust, work, hang out, and have fun. When I go out into our East Baltimore community and photograph I learned it is respectful to ask someone’s permission before I take their picture. This is where I use my new social skills. Speaking to others is no longer a problem or fear of mine.” - Shandasha Nixon
“I learned that I’m really good with people and I can take great portraits.” - Dasha Flowers
I learned to see East Baltimore in a different way. I learned to see beyond the trash and crime. Now I see smiles and laughs, Not just screaming and yelling. More sharing and helping, Than being greedy and pretty. I see a COMMUNITY. - Derrick Smith
Everyday life in East Baltimore is fun. You can experience different things and different people. The people in East Baltimore are respectful and fun to hang out with. They are smart, nice, intelligent, outrageous, and cool. There are also different types of personalities such as nice, rude, calm, and collected. These different types of personalities makes us who were are. The young ladies and young men of East Baltimore are close to each other even though they are not
family. They will have each otherâ€™s backs no matter what happens to them. East Baltimore is known for family and friends who hang together and have a great life. To have a great life means to spend time with your loved ones and the ones you look up to. There are a variety of different people and different cultures. People spend their time chillinâ€™ on their steps, going to the playground, swimming, going to parties and down to the harbor, and sometimes they ride
As you can see the Viewfinders have come a long way since we first began in January 2011. We have learned to use digital SLR cameras. We have learned technical skills and how to compose our photographs. We also learned to tell our life stories using a camera and how to interact with people in the community. Along our adventurous journey we met some very generous people. We very much appreciate how they have helped us. We thank Mr. Tony White for letting us make our totally awesome shirts. Mr. Sam Brice for letting us view his paintings and for inspiring us. Ms. Paula Phillips and the MA/MFA in Community Arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art for supporting the Viewfinders. Ken Krafchek for always believing in us. Ms. Barbra Greene for sharing her experiences with us. Mr. Alex Brecht for the transportation when we are out photographing. Our educators and mentors Anne Kotleba and Natalie Tranelli. And last but not least the East Baltimore Community. We hope you enjoyed our book and that our artwork has brought you closer to who and what the Viewfinders are. We also hope we have granted you a closer prospective of our community.
Words of Wisdom “People should follow who they are, accept what they are, and do what they wanna to do, so they can live a full life.” - Danisha Harris
“A picture is worth a thousand words. What you decide to photograph can and will give people a sense of who you are. Be sure to express yourself there is a lot you can do with a camera lens.” - Shandasha Nixon
“Stay in school. Be successful. Never give up. Stay positive.” - Kendell Jordan
“Stay in school and get your education…you need to succeed in this life.” - Dasha Flowers
“Don’t try anything that you will regret. You should always try your best and try to succeed in everything. Never give up and keep your head up.”
- Marquise Weems
“Do what you want. Wear what you want. Think what you want. Listen to what you want. Live how you want. LIVE LIFE YOUR WAY!! - Derrick Smith