The Help Group’s Village Glen School
OPENING RECEPTION: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2016
September 10 - October 29, 2016
inside/out is a multi-year project aimed at providing the environment, tools and teaching to encourage students at The Help Group’s Village Glen School program in finding their creative voice through photography and writing, exploring their world and communicating through imagery and written expression those things that speak to their thoughts, feelings, values and ideas. The Help Group’s Village Glen School is an environment created to support individuals with diverse talents, strengths and needs, many of whom are on the autism spectrum. Founded in 1975, The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit of its kind in the United States serving children, adolescents and young adults with special needs related to autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional challenges.
At the end of both projects, each student engaged in a collaborative portrait session with Pat Sandler. Students were encouraged to think about any particular clothing or props they wanted to bring. During each session, Ms . Sandler asked students to engage in an interactive process which might allow them to center themselves and think about who they are and who they let others see. These sessions were created in order to give each student an experience of being fully present, and allowing that presence to be witnessed by another, in this case, the photographer. Once the portraits were printed, we engaged once again in a writing exercise, first as a class together , and then in 1:1 sessions with Ms. Sandler, as they responded to their image. This writing was very structured and gave students two prompts. The first was “When I look at this picture I see…” and the second, “Most people don’t know that I…”.
The portraits were intentionally done at the end of each project in order to document what was expected to be an increased sense of trust and willingness to be seen; a positive outcome directly connected to facilitating a creative, safe, art-making environment with children, teens or adults.
Photographs by The Help Group’s Village Glen School students
Portraits by Pat Sandler