Exploring Identity Through Photography

smiling faculty

Minneapolis College Instructor Kristine Heykants worked with the Hennepin Theatre Trust and students of The FAIR School in Downtown Minneapolis to create images surrounding the topic of Identity.

Heykants teaches in the Photography and Digital Imaging Department and led a workshop for the teenagers to explore identity through photography. The FAIR School’s dedication to equity and social justice inspired Heykants to center the workshops around this subject.

How did you decide on the final image? How did the process for choosing the final image go?

The students are the ones who made the photography. I provided a platform for them to create the images. They came to the studios at Minneapolis College. I had set up all of the lighting. We have a really beautiful photo studio facility in the Photography and Digital Imaging Department.

I set up 5 different photo studios and each one had a little bit of a different lighting and background scenario. We talked a lot about mood and visual, and this mood and visual communication piece. How do we use lighting and photography? How do we use backdrops in order to communicate visually?

They had the opportunity to utilize each of the different setups and employ those tools to create their own images. They worked as teams. They were the ones who took the pictures which makes it incredibly powerful because it’s really their voices coming through.

During the workshop we, as a group, looked at the pictures and talked about how the different images communicated. What they liked about them, what they didn’t like. I also worked with Larry Nelson, the Media teacher at FAIR School and together we selected the images we thought would be the best representation of the students at the school.

For those who are able to view the banners, what is one thing you want them to take away from this public art project?

I really hope that when people view the images that the young people have created of themselves, they feel the same inspiration of hope for the future that I do and that I had when working with the students. The hope, excitement and promise of the youth that are studying at the school.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about yourself or the public art project?

The collaboration between the College and FAIR School was such a great partnership. It makes total sense. I am really hoping this has planted the seed for future collaborations between the Photography and Digital Imaging Department and the gifted students at FAIR School. I know one of the challenges with high school curriculum is that they have so much that they [need to cover], especially now when everything is shifting. It’s hard to make those initial connections. Now that we have the seed planted, we can continue our relationship in that way.