SURA Student Photography Online Exhibition — Spring 2020
AANM is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of artists. Our award-winning SURA Arts Academy has provided professional photography lessons to middle and high schoolers in metro Detroit since 2000. Professional photographers and educators lead discussions and explorations, helping students gain insight into issues of identity, ethnicity, diversity and community history.
For its most recent semester, SURA partnered with Wayne State University and infused photography lessons with art therapy for refugee and immigrant teens, using Photovoice to help them creatively express and document their experiences with resettlement in the U.S. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting in the midst of the semester, once the stay-at-home order took effect the program moved online and participants began taking photos at home, documenting shared experiences of the pandemic.
Photovoice is a photography and social action method that encourages participants to photograph aspects of their daily lives, to reflect on their meaning and significance and galvanize change, where needed. This past spring, AANM's SURA Arts Academy partnered with Wayne State University on a Photovoice class with a curriculum aimed at helping teens reflect on their experiences as new residents in the U.S. The class encouraged participants to take photographs that depicted stories about their lives, perspectives and culture: What is good? What is challenging? What sustains you during challenging times? What about your culture and background are you proud of and wish to share with other U.S. residents? These were among the questions participants explored through the Photovoice adaptation of SURA, the long running photography program presented by AANM, now on its 20th anniversary.
The class was co-facilitated by SURA instructor Ahmed Badr and Wayne State University art therapy students. Individuals aged 13 to 17 who had been in the U.S. for five years or less were invited to enroll. Although ten students originally enrolled including two boys, eight girls ended up completing the program. Ten weekly classes were planned to be held at AANM, including two field trips. However, after the fifth week, COVID-19 resulted in the necessity to hold the remaining sessions remotely. Photovoice was harnessed to then encourage participants to take photographs detailing their lives during the pandemic, forced to stay at home in lockdown.
Students provided pre and post self-report questionnaires and an art therapy assessment drawing, to act as an evaluation of the program’s potential benefits to emotional health. This data was collected by Wayne State University students in the School of Medicine, who believe that this exhibition will speak for itself and confirm the evaluations, that Photovoice provided a method for teens to reflect on their experiences as refugees and/or immigrants, to tell their stories and in the process find their voices, find what matters to them and find their strengths.
The students’ images of family, friends, community and more represent the inspiring creative outcome of the SURA Arts Academy. Usually exhibited in the Museum at our annual SURA Student Photography Exhibition, this year's SURA student work is presented here in our first online edition of this exhibition.
Prints of the photographs displayed in this exhibition are available for purchase for $30 each; $15 going to the young artists and $15 going back to AANM to support scholarships for the SURA program. Photos can be purchased through this link. Upon completing your purchase, someone from AANM will contact you via e-mail to verify which photo(s) you were interested in purchasing, and the photos will then be mailed to you.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Ahmed Badr has specialized in photography for nearly two decades and throughout several countries. He is proud to have fought against the stereotype of going into engineering or dentistry, instead following his passion of photography. For Badr, photography is a beautiful artform that allows one the freedom of expressing passions and love of the world, while opening up the mind and finding beauty in things one traditionally would not; and blasting our mundane world with light and color. Badr’s style is a combination of photojournalism and ﬁne-art photography, with a touch of fashion and creative lighting. His photos are inspired by light, color and techniques from black and white processing, vintage photos, creative perspective, and most importantly, the personalities of the people he photographs. Badr has been the photography instructor for AANM’s SURA Arts Academy since 2018, with his passion for photography driving him to want to share it with his community and the next generation of young artists. He believes that empowering young people with the tools of art is one of the best ways to create a better future.
In partnership with
"I'm Bayan, I'm 16 years old, I was born in Syria, and moved to U.S.A. to find my dream. I became interested in photography when I looked at the Sky once and found the beauty behind it. Why not to take a really nice photo of such a view? I remember I grabbed my phone and I took this one beautiful picture that I can't forget. Capturing and photographing is my passion. I always have my camera ready to capture unique moments in life. I like nature, trees, skies and flowers. I am really passionate about getting people to see the same beauty I see in things and taking photos of them. At this point I take photography as a hobby that I can get my art into and reach the real meanings behind art and photography. I also like to get details and really small details into my photography."
"My name is Kholoud Abueida. I'm a 17 year-old girl that lives in Michigan with my mom and my brothers. I'm the youngest one in my six siblings. I'm from Palestine (Gaza). I was born in U.A.E. (Abu Dhabi). I lived there for 15 years, but then I moved to Dearborn with my mom. The important thing in my life is my family, and I love to spend all day with my family. When I was 14 years old, I loved spending time taking pictures of nature like a sky, clouds, grass and trees. It's a talent and hobby that I have, so my family and my friends support me and inspire me to move forward in my hobby. I became interested in photography almost four years ago and received my first camera on my birthday and started shooting pictures of everything. I was seeing a lot of creative photographers, great ideas and amazing images in social media, so I began to do the same and copied them. So, I started to create things from the stuff in the house; it becomes an amazing thing."
Maha Abu Baker
"I'm Maha Abu Baker, a Yemeni photographer currently living in Dearborn, Michigan. I am 16 years old and have been passionate about photography since forever. Through those years I've tried almost every style. I learned to love product and macro the most. I enjoy capturing the moments in life people don't pay attention to. Finding the different perspectives and angles of the little things is one of the reasons my love for photography grew. Through this art, I communicate a story with no words. I use photography as a way of relaxation at stressful times. I don't like the movement of time and change, photography allows me to document the memories in the past. I would love to continue with my art and better myself along the way and see were that would lead."
"My name is Mariam Naguib. I am 18 years old. I'm from Baghdad, Iraq. I was born there and moved to Egypt with my family at the age of 5. I used to take pictures when I was young, whether pictures of me with my friends, pictures of landscapes or even pictures of food I like. I got inspired by many photographers and I started practicing more. I used to look at different pictures from social media and try to use the same techniques they used in that picture. I took pictures of anything I like, but I mostly liked taking pictures of nature and landscapes. When I moved to the U.S., I found a lot of beautiful landscapes and started taking more pictures. I also practiced taking different types of photos and I recently became interested in street photography. As of now photography is a hobby for me, and I hope to develop more in it."
"My name is Maya Hoballah and I am an artist who mainly works with photography. I was born in Brockton, MA. We moved to Lebanon when I was younger to be raised upon tradition and came back recently. When I first grabbed the camera secretly stashed away in my father's closet, I just knew that I was meant to find it. My hands gently glided over the camera's buttons and as I looked through the lens I saw my future flash before my eyes, and I felt at ease, capturing still moments and freezing them in time. My photos sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence, yet at times, disconcerting beauty emerges. They come from my surroundings and reflect my own feelings and desires. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, I attempt to produce work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. My work tries to express this with the help of telling a story or creating a metaphor. My works are generally characterized by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middle-class mentality in which recognition plays an important role. Welcome to my world."
"I am Mesan Nahar, I am a Syrian girl. I was born in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. I lived there for a bit of time and then I moved to my homeland, Syria, and I lived there for about nine or ten years. Due to the bad circumstances and the war in Syria, my family and I had to leave our country. After that we emigrated to Jordan and we lived there for about four to five years. What actually inspires me in this life is when I feel proud when accomplishing something that I worked hard for and when putting my effort into it. Also my family and my prayers, I feel really comfortable and a lot of inspiration and gratitude for a lot of things in this life and also when doing my duties. I am passionate about learning and discovering new things to know, to learn and to develop either about myself or something else. Of course, many of us have faced a lot of obstacles throughout his or her life. These obstacles are very tough and hard but we have to be strong and be always positive and also an important thing is to learn from the lessons that this life gives us. One of the biggest obstacles that I have faced in my life is me living in a war when I was a kid. Then moving to many countries and trying to learn about each country or each people's culture and moving to many different schools and trying to adapt to new different things such as people or students in the school or people outside of the school and maybe making new friends and many other things. My artwork presents nature basically and some other different things. I want to convey to the viewers' many good things, such as looking at the one thing from different perspectives because they might find something new, special and nice. I also want to encourage them to always look for the bright side of the issue and to have a better understanding of the things around them. I also want to tell them that there are a lot of happy and nice things in this world, they have to not give up and stay positive and they will find that joy. I have become interested in photography for a few years, I like photography and I think I need to improve my skills and am working on that. I hope to become a nice and better version of myself."
"I am a 15 year old photographer currently living in Dearborn, Michigan. I was born in Yemen but moved to the U.S. at a very young age. I first became interested in photography when I got my first phone in the eighth grade. At first I just liked to look at other peoples' photography and appreciate their talents, but after I got inspired by many amazing photographers I started practicing myself. I took pictures everywhere I went of almost anything and fell in love with taking pictures of nature. I am really passionate about getting people to see the beauty of the simple creations around us that most people don't notice, that's what most of my landscape photos are about. I am currently practicing taking different types of photos and recently got interested in portrait photography, I am hoping that in the future I might take photography as a professional career."
"My name is Shouk, I am 18 years old from Syria, I was born in Syria and lived there for 8 years. After that, I left Syria because of the war. I am really excited about photography, my friends inspire me to move forward. I faced many obstacles in my life, the most important of which was my studies; because of the war I could not complete my studies optimally. There is no specific topic in my photos, but what I want to communicate is that photography is a beautiful thing when it comes from your heart and you will be successful in it. I became interested in photography almost a year ago, I was seeing a lot of creative photographers and great ideas, and it was easy and in the end, it becomes an amazing thing."