SURA Photography Exhibition

Sura 1Over the last 12 months, middle school students of diverse backgrounds from Dearborn and southwest Detroit learned digital photography skills as part of the Arab American National Museum’s SURA Arts Academy, a program funded by The Skillman Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of State.

Now the students are doing what professional artists do – displaying their work in a public setting. From September 13 through November 16, 2008, more than 50 color images by these budding artists will be exhibited in the Lower Level Gallery at the Arab American National Museum (AANM). The show is free with Museum admission.

And this fall, SURA Arts Academy continues with a new group of middle school students. The weekly sessions begin Tuesday, September 16 at Munger Middle School, 5525 Martin Street, Detroit, running through November 18; the sessions run from 3:45-5:15 p.m. There is no charge to take part in the program; however, advance registration is required and transportation is not offered. Registration information is available at www.arabamericanmuseum.org or by calling 313.624.0210.

Sura is an Arabic word for photograph. In SURA Arts Academy, students learn to operate and care for the camera and how to compose a shot, but the instruction is also a catalyst. As they look through the camera lens, they develop self-awareness and respect toward others, and an idea of how they fit into the broader community.

Sura 2Equipped with new digital cameras supplied by the Museum, children of Arab, African, Asian and Latin American descent spent the last year working with professional independent photographers as well as photographers from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. They led the instructional activities and joined AANM educators in leading cultural discussions and explorations, helping the students gain insight into issues of identity, ethnicity, diversity and the value of documenting community history. The weekly sessions were held at Detroit’s Munger Middle School but also included field trips.

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of State, SURA student photographers held an online cultural exchange with students in the Middle East, who are also learning photography and exhibiting their works as part of a program sponsored by the nonprofit JOHUD organization, based in Amman, Jordan.

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