Talkin’ back: Chicago youth respond

Leslie Mancera, (Juarez Community Academy), Untitled, 2011

About the Exhibition

The Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) and the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) at Columbia College Chicago are proud to present Talkin’ Back: Chicago Youth Respond, an annual exhibition of photography and creative writing currently in its eighth year.

This exhibition brings together work from students from six different Chicago schools and communities who, with guidance from professional photographers and writers, create photographs and text that express their diverse ideas about landscape, place, and identity. The students’ photographs and writing are intermixed and installed along a single horizon line drawn on the gallery’s walls, evoking the commonalities, connections, and points of disjuncture between multiple, often-segregated communities across the city.

In a strong model of interdisciplinary learning, students work with inspiration from traditions exemplified by American photographers in the collection of the MoCP. Strengthened by ideas from literature, cultural history, and poetry, students explore the ever-shifting and fluid boundaries of community and identity.

Talkin’ Back began 8 years ago as a conversation about text and image among photographers and writers working in programs sponsored by the MoCP and CCAP. Today it continues as a partnership between CCAP’s nationally recognized arts integration program Project AIM (Arts Integration Mentorship) and the MoCP’s Picture Me program. Project AIM partners teaching artists with public school teachers in Chicago to create arts-integrated curriculum that promotes reading, writing, and math through the arts. The Picture Me program teaches Chicago teens professional photography skills that enable them to both express themselves creatively and further their academic and career goals.