Art photography helps people with special challenges, people with difficulties or people who are experiencing considerable discomfort to express themselves creatively, and in turn develop greater autonomy, discover hidden abilities, develop positive life attitudes, and enable relationships with others.
The hypothesis is that while expressions in words, moods or thoughts may be difficult, a visual medium will facilitate this communication process. Photography will allow the representation of individual views, of things, people and places. In education for people with challenges, art photography can be used to facilitate regulation of emotions, and facilitate intercommunication, making people visible to themselves and to others.
The workshop scenario presented here was developed in the E.T.R.A.-project. ETRA learners have undergone a learning path specifically focused on photography. First step was to promote cultural awareness through visiting exhibitions and showing them didactic materials. Once learners were stimulated about arts and about self-expression, they were guided in a next step consisting of producing artistic photos, photo collages, photo painted, graphic re-elaboration of photos, etc.
FROM PERCEPTION TO TACTILE CREATION
Main goals of the activety:
- Stimulate the processes of selection of images (Editing).
- Stimulate the processes of creation of meaning.
- Promote communication.
- Increase the understanding of different point of view.
- Promote a self-expression through photography.
- Promoting dialogue building a collective work.
STEP 1: Selection of own photographs
Participants worked with photographs taken by them. The printed images were arranged on the space available. Each participant was asked to choose images (from a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 10) that he liked the most and that were most representative for the participant.
STEP 2: Creating your own space of meaning
My story, my home. The selected images were arranged on a large white sheet. The participants were asked to choose autonomously where to put the photos. The assignment was to create a story with a personal meaning.
STEP 3: Writing down associative word
Participants are asked to ﬁnd words connected to each photograph. The words should be written spontaneously. They are supposed to describe emotions, sensations and or memories.
STEP 4: A meaningful title for the personal creation
Participants are asked to examine the photos and words they have written and to explore if they can find a title to name the entire collage.
STEP 5: This is my home
In this phase, each participant has “invited” the other members of the group to discover their “home” (the personal collage) explaining the reason for every choice made (pictures and writing). ln this way participants were able to share the personal meaning of theirown creation.
STEP 6: Creating the map of the town of the group
in this phase it was decided to create a map using the collective creation made by individual members of the group. An entire wall was covered with paper on which participants have attacked their collage by selecting the location on the map. Through the art materials available have been asked to create connections between different houses I collage (roads, parks, shopping, adding characters, etc.) constructing a map of the collective group.
STEP 7: A meaningful title for the group creation
Participants are asked to examine the map they had created and to ﬁnd a common name of the city.
The process of sharing photos with the group has allowed the participants to talk about what was important for them. This has significantly increased their self-esteem and the ability to tell their stories. In this case photographs may act as a substitute for verbal communication, offering a visual language and means of conveying emotion; they may be used in a metaphorical sense, allowing the person to speak through the image or as a means of organizing and structuring what a person want to say, offering both a framework and a focus for conversation. It’s possible to choose to talk about the content of the photography, the story behind the image or the meaning it holds.
The collective work has allowed the group to create a shared space where each member has been able to feel free to move beyond embarrassment and situations of inadequacy.