The Chester Fields photo contest was created by Presentation House Gallery to foster an interest in photography among North Shore and Lower Mainland students in British Columbia. Recognizing that the medium is a highly accessible communication tool, the project aims to give young artists a platform to expand their visual literacy by exploring the many ways photography can be used - not only as a means of expression, but also as an investigative tool and method of identity formation.
For its sixth season (spring 2013), young artists focused on the theme of cultural identity. Under the banner To Here from Home, youth were asked to think about the various physical and psychological connotations of the word “home:” as a condition of belonging, national identity, state of mind, etc. In order to promote the contest, I visited various secondary schools, giving talks about artists of contemporary and local relevance working with photography. These classroom presentations across the North Shore invited youth to think of ways in which cultural identity can be formed through distance, and how photography and mass media contribute to shaping who and what we identify with.
The Chester Fields contest gave a thematic framework for youth to work in, which was supplemented by classroom discussions and posts on the Chester Fields blog about how artists have broached questions of identity through photography, and the role of social media in identification. It offered youth artists a chance to gain visibility through the Presentation House Gallery exhibition and its catalogue publication, as well as three cash prizes. The jury selected 14 entries for the exhibition, and an additional six honorary mentions were included in the To Here from Home publication.
Below are photos selected for the To Here from Home exhibition:
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