Ray Huard ….The image is intriguing. A young woman sits cross-legged on the floor in the empty living room of an abandoned apartment, holding a guitar. Glistening white stars float around her.
“Moody, very melancholy,” is the feel photographer Kim Tirado said she was trying to evoke.
“When I play guitar, it kind of mixes reality with what I’m feeling, like, I can just be in the world, but when I play a guitar, I’m somewhere else,” she said.
Kim, 16, a junior who plans a career in the arts, is one of six Rancho Buena Vista students whose photographs will be displayed in a special exhibit May 16 through June 20 at the dnj Gallery in Santa Monica.
“It’s such a thrill, being able to show my students’ photographs,” said Rancho Buena Vista photography teacher Kelly Moncure. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wish I was showing at a gallery in Santa Monica.”
Moncure said the show is in collaboration with two Los Angeles schools which she’s been working with – Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology and Harvard-Westlake School.
The exhibition will feature photographs taken by students from those schools and by students from San Luis High School in San Luis, Ariz., and Venice Arts, a nonprofit after school arts program in Venice.
The photographs are focused on a theme of sense of place and sense of self, Moncure said, and they had to be taken using cell phone cameras.
With the help of special photo aps, senior Mahde Ramlaoui, 18, said he liked working with cell phones.
“If you’re on the go, it’s easier,” Mahde said. “These new phones that are coming out right now are specifically made for greater photography.”
Mahde, who wants to be a high-tech business entrepreneur, is exhibiting a self-portrait. The photograph shows Mahde standing at a duck pond near the high school with an enlarged image of his eye superimposed on it.
The effect is like someone standing in the center of an eye.
“I had the idea of seeing yourself and being comfortable with yourself,” Mahde said. “You can’t be comfortable with yourself until you see yourself as you really are.”
Senior Elaine Clark, 17, said that her entry in the show of a boy skateboarding down an outdoor hallway at the school was almost a fluke.
“I wasn’t expecting it. When I took the picture, it was spontaneous,” said Elaine, who plans to study pediatrics at Palomar College next year.
“I think photography would be a really cool hobby of mine but I always wanted to be a pediatrician,” she added.
Initially, Elaine had misgivings about the photo she’s showing in Santa Monica.
“It was really dark. The lighting looked weird do me,” Elaine said. She said the photo grew on her the more she looked at it and she thought it had a good sense of place.
Moncure said Elaine’s photo “has a really nice mood. It kind of has that Southern California culture.”
Senior Carlos Hernandez, 18, chose to photograph a Tijuana park his family frequented when he was younger.
“It’s a place where I can never forget,” Carlos said. “This photograph means a lot to me because of the past connections I had to this place. This is where my family would always take me as a kid and we made many unforgettable memories.”
The color photo shows setting sun behind two rows of tall palm trees.
Carlos said his hope is that people who see his photo will remember something of their childhood.
He hasn’t decided on a career, but plans to major in business administration at California State University San Marcos.
Senior Aidan Dean, 18, is showing a black-and-white self-portrait, as well as a black-and-white photo of an old Ford Ranger pickup truck parked on the street in front of a house along the coast in Carlsbad.
In a written description of the truck photo, Aidan said that the image is meant to show how the well-to-do share space with those less fortunate.
“I used it, because I like the Ranger, and because the man who owns it is like me – a man who does not live in this area, but migrates to it, to live out a large part of his life, a part that is vital to him and those like him,” Aidan wrote.
Junior Jeffrey Laughlin, 17, did a black-and-white self-portrait that blends a barely discernable image of his face into a shot of leafy tree limbs as seen from below.
Jeffrey’s photograph and those of the other students exhibiting at the Santa Monica gallery are being published in hardcover book.
The project is directed by Joe Medina, a photography teacher at Harvard Westlake, and Joan Dooley, a photography teacher at Humanitas Academy.
In describing it on the gallery website, www.dnjgallery.net, Medina wrote “This project is inspired by a belief in the power of photography as an educational tool and a desire to help people communicate the way they see their lives and their communities. The project also aims at encouraging students to respond to artistic challenges that will push their creative and technical boundaries.”
Moncure said she was “beside myself with excitement” over the exhibition. “I’ve really enjoyed working with these kids,” she said.