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Monday, December 13, 2010

“Kid Kulture” Photo Exhibit a Study of Innocence

“Kid Kulture” Photo Exhibit 
a Study of Innocence:
Show will run Dec. 10 – Feb. 20 
at Westport Arts Center
(Appeared on 12/13)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Westport, CT – It was an exploration of innocence and an environment in which the work of the master and the work of the student blended together in perfect harmony.

The occasion was the opening night of a new photo exhibit titled “Kid Kulture” at the Westport Arts Center at 51 Riverside Ave. Featured were the works of accomplished professional photographers of the 20th century but also select photos by local children ages 5 to 18, hanging right alongside them. The subject matter was children going about their daily activities and the exhibit was curated by Helen Klisser During, the Director of Visual Arts for the Center.

“Photos are grouped in clusters of four or five, organized by themes including playfulness, water, haircuts, etc.,” explained Alyssa Crouse, the Center’s Marketing and Communications Director. “Typically, you’ll get four shots from a professional and then one from an amateur child mixed in.”

A call for entries invited local children to submit one photo that represents their life. Submissions were juried by Karen Marks of the Howard Greenberg Gallery. In all, 41 out of 118 submissions made the cut, though all submissions have been included on a video loop and are available to be viewed. Said Crouse, “Every child’s contribution is valuable to the show.”

One amateur “artist” was Carly Curran, 5, whose photo of her 2-year-old brother Charlie sleeping – a photo she titled “Shhhh” --  was featured. She proudly stood beside it with sister Shea, 7, and mom Stacie. Stacie thought it was amusing that Carly did not have a camera of her own and had to borrow her sister’s, and ultimately the shot made the show.

Klisser During was very enthused about how the exhibit had evolved. “This is exactly what one would hope for. The heartbeat of every exhibit is to inspire. This mix and match to bring major artwork to Westport but then to have juried kids’ work side by side is amazing. The children’s photos hold and having their perspective on their own world is very important.”

In addition to the children-focused photos, four pedal cars on loan from the Stamford Museum were on display. A series of photographs of Star Wars figurines, comparing in each case one from 1977 to one from 1997, were also shown, courtesy of husband/wife team Max Becher and Andrea Robbins.

The show was co-sponsored by Pepperidge Farm and Center board member Gary Cosgrove. Their funding allowed for framing, operating costs and the jurying process. Pepperidge Farm President Pat Callahan was glad to be supporting. “We know Helen and how passionate she is about art. We love the connection with kids given our Goldfish snack product. This is a great opportunity to give back.”

Another young artist was Elizabeth Bennewitz, 13, of Coleytown Middle School. She said, “Our school has a photo club and our teacher told us about the competition and to take a photo of a kid. I hoped my photo would make it and was really excited when it did. My twin sister Mary also got one in, so I was glad.”

As patrons, numbering over 200, studied photos and helped themselves to a generous spread of nibblies from a festively decorated table, the Center’s Executive Director Nancy Heller thanked everyone for coming. “’Kid Kulture’ celebrates the spirit of childhood, as well as the wealth of talent in the community,” she said.

Klisser During joined Heller to add that the exhibit is about continuing to explore and complimented the young artists on their work. “Their images are simple and powerful and align with the professionals.”

An adjunct to the exhibit was “Facebook Faces”, consisting of 80 photos and sketches contributed by Carson Einarsen, 16. Starting this past July 18, Einarsen had photographed a friend a day, and then sketched the friend from the photo. He framed the two images side by side in each case and planned to continue for a year’s time.

“I contacted the Center to see if I could do a small event at the end of the year’s period, but Helen thought my work should be part of Kid Kulture. This is the 145th day of my project,” said Einarsen.

Summing up the event, Visual Arts Coordinator Catherine Sippin said, “This has been really special and the children’s work is often as sophisticated as the more accomplished work. And it’s really special for the kids to see their work displayed.”