WHERE:  Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan St, Fall River, MA

WHEN:  March 23rd, 1-3 PM, 2019

On March 23rd, a collaborative photography exhibit, “Through Our Eyes, will open at the Narrows Center for the Arts. The over thirty contributing photographers are all adult English-language learners at SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc. who have made their home in Fall River.  Over the past year, the students have been exploring the world around them through the lens of a camera and taking photographs of whatever struck them as important, interesting, or beautiful.  Every week in their beginning and intermediate ESOL classes, they shared their photographs with one another and in what often became quite animated discussions, explained the meanings, cultural traditions, and artistic visions behind their depictions.  They each created work-in-progress journals that included all the photographs they had taken over the course of the semester, selected a set of favorite images, and then worked hard to create accompanying captions that expressed their thoughts and feelings.  This exhibit is the culmination of the students’ efforts to use photography to tell stories about themselves and their communities and to share those stories with wider audiences.

The exhibit opening is also the kick-off to the 40th Anniversary celebrations of Southeastern Massachusetts SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc.  This non-profit organization has been a leader in adult education, training, and employment since 1979.  Originally founded to improve the educational and employment outcomes of Portuguese immigrant families in Fall River, SER-Jobs currently serves residents of the greater Fall River area and other communities in Southeastern Massachusetts who come from diverse cultural backgrounds by offering a wide range of programs and services. The programs they offer include classes for English to Students of Other Languages, high school equivalency preparation classes for adults and out of school youth, and career exploration activities, training in computer literacy and technology, and job and career planning, counseling, and placement.

The themes of the Through Our Eyes exhibit reflect the students’ diverse interests and points of view.  Some of the photographs focus primarily on connections with family and friends.  Others depict traditions such as the making and sharing of food and celebration of special events.  Still others depict the beauty of nature, neighborhoods throughout the city, or new ways to see details of daily life.  A goal shared by all of the contributing photographers was to convey the important role the supportive educational space at SER-Jobs plays in their lives.  Their captions and autobiographical accounts reveal hopes and dreams and what it has been like to leave a homeland in order to make a new life for themselves and their children in the U.S

This project was made possible by a generous grant from MassHumanities, as well as contributions from SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc., and the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.  The second phase of this project, which will entail public art installations of photographs throughout Fall River, from the Through Our Eyes collection, is supported by a Creative Commonwealth Grant from the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts.  All the photographs are also accessible to the public via the Fall River Portraits website (fallriverportraits.org) which was made possible by a Creative Economies Grant from the University of Massachusetts President’s Office.

The exhibit opening and kick-off anniversary celebration will be held at the Narrows Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 23rd, 1-3 PM and is open and free to the public.  Families are especially welcome!  The exhibit will be up through Saturday, April 27th.  Gallery hours are Wednesday thru Saturday, 12-5 PM.  For more information contact the Narrows at 508-324-1926, Andrea Klimt at aklimt@umassd.edu, or SER-Jobs for Progress at 508-676-1916.

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