Established by Judy Herman in memory of her husband, the John Wessel Photography Program is Palos Verdes Art Center’s newest education outreach. The program is designed to provide a creative outlet to low-income youth with the hope of sparking a lifelong passion for photography. The instruction was held most recently, July – August 2019, at the Family Resource Center at Harbor Village Apartments in Harbor City in partnership with Project Access, a non-profit dedicated to giving low-income families the tools to break the cycle of poverty.
The teaching artist will be Henry Cherry, a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and artist based in Los Angeles, California. Cherry studied painting and film at Antioch College in Ohio and at the University of Texas Radio, Television and Film School. His work as a chef, ranch hand, bar owner, and musician has enabled him to think out of the box, which aided in the creation of this program. A child of the South, Cherry brings his rich life experience to the program.
“Much of my photojournalism and documentary work has featured artists and musicians, including Matjames Metson, Craig Stecyk, and jazz legend Henry Grimes, each of whom imbues their creations with a striking sense of wonder and mirth,” he states. “I was raised by a surgeon and medical professor who continually stressed a particular lesson he learned in medical school – the antidote to anxiety is action. Add in a large dose of fun and you have the building blocks for an after-school arts education program.”
The artist describes his goals for the program in this way, “Finding the heart of life’s absurdity in a still image is the true lesson of photography. The three biggest things great photographers do are simple, not easy, but simple – they get themselves into the right place, find the best light, and frame the photograph with finesse. But outside of the camera, you have to know how to interact with the people, places and things you photograph. As much as a photography class should explore light and angles and framing organically, it should offer playfulness of spirit and kind intent. If you’re having fun, your subjects respond. Photography is something you can do for the rest of your life.”
The program is funded by the John Wessel Photography Endowment with additional support provided by Paul’s Photo in Torrance, and Polaroid Originals, providers of Polaroid cameras and film.
For information, contact Education Director Gail Phinney at email@example.com