Professors Claire Garoutte, Fine Arts, and Saheed Adejumobi, History/Global African Studies, worked with local Somali teens on a photographic project now on exhibit at Seattle University. With a focus on first-generation youth, “Our Children, Our Voices” is a multi-layered narrative. The teens focused on cultural heritage, community, and citizenship. Seattle is home to the second largest Somali population in the United States.
In addition to the photographs by the Somali teens, photographs by College of Arts and Sciences photography majors, Jon Polka and Candace Shankel illustrate a year of activities from the Yesler Terrace Neighborhood House Head Start program. The images are the result of a long-term service-learning internship at Neighborhood House.
The photography component of “Our Children, Our Voices,” displayed in the Vachon Gallery on the Seattle University campus, illustrates issues of cross-cultural identity, assimilation, and education. The exhibit runs through December 16.
“We brought together oral histories and photography to highlight the activism and self-representation of this vibrant and often misrepresented population,” said Garoutte.
The project began in July with a workshop involving Somali teens. Photography and historical narratives were part of the weeklong program at Seattle University.
“We had the opportunity to capture the multifaceted cross-cultural experiences facing the Somali community in our city,” Adejumobi said. “Through oral histories and photography, we highlighted into the issues they confront every day.”
The project was funded by a grant from Humanities Washington and a Global Grant from Seattle University.
Claire Garoutte joined the College of Arts and Sciences faculty in 2006 and directs the photography program. Saheed Adejumobi joined the college faculty in 2005 and teaches courses in African history, African American history, and courses in African film and music with emphasis on the intellectual history, aesthetics and politics of the Black diaspora.
The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college in Seattle University, offers 33 undergraduate and 7 advanced degrees.
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