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Photo Exchangers: Youth connecting Ghana and the US through cross-cultural communication

January 15 - March 15, 2009
Youth Art Gallery

"We are doing this project to learn about people outside our homes and families, to learn about others that live in other places like Ghana. Another reason we're doing this project is to explore around other neighborhoods and to interview people and to learn about them." -- Ashley Vital, American student, age 11

"The photography project is out to link children in Ghana to children in America to help us learn new things in our area and culture so that to teach our friends in U.S. to foster unity among members in both clubs." -- Azara Abdulai, Ghanaian student, age 16

The exhibition Photo Exchangers: Youth connecting Ghana and the US through cross-cultural communication features work produced by Ghanaian and American student photographers who participated in the internationally acclaimed, transnational Photo Exchangers Project.

The exhibition at MSU showcases thirty photographs from two youth groups, one in Ghana and one in the US. A video and additional materials on the process of doing a Photo Exchanger project are also included in the exhibition.

The Photo Exchangers Project aims to stimulate cross-cultural communication through photography and community-based interviewing. Since 2005, students have participated in a series of workshops led by Samara Hoyer-Winfield, Marit Dewhurst, Sadat Issiah, and Abdul Hamid where they learned how to use photography and interviews to document their culture. In ongoing email discussions about the products of their work, students have shared their reflections about their own and each other's cultures. The name "Photo Exchangers" was created by two students, one American and one Ghanaian.

As Marsha MacDowell, curator at the MSU Museum and professor of Art and Art History, notes, "There is a growing interest around the world including here at Michigan State University in teaching photo documentation skills to students of all ages as a means for them to sharpen their visual thinking and analyzing abilities, to increase their awareness of their natural and cultural worlds, and to apply these skills to address local and global needs."

At MSU, the MSU Museum and 4-H offer youth cultural heritage documentation training and resources through FOLKPATTERNS. The Residential College of Arts and Humanities and the Public Humanities Collaborative offer Photo Voices instruction through courses and special initiatives.

On March 5 and 6, 2009, Samara Hoyer-Winfield and Marit Dewhurst, the co-facilitators of the Photo Exchangers project, will be at MSU to participate in gallery talks, a symposium on photo documentation, and workshops for educators. More details of exact programs, times, and locations will be forthcoming by late January.

The exhibition will be at the MSU Museum until March 15, 2009.

This exhibition is presented as a program of A World of Arts & Culture at MSU. Support for this exhibition and its related activities has been provided by a "Creating Inclusive Excellence" grant from MSU's Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Activities, MSU Public Humanities, and the MSU Department of Art and Art History.