I recently had the chance to work with The Explorer Program, a group located in Chicago in which the primary focus is to enable the students involved in the program, through art and creativity, to make progressive changes within their own lives as well as their communities. I came across this program through the social media shares of a friend of mine (thanks, Jessica!) who has been working with them for some time; seeing her passion for the program, as well as the cool projects the students were working on based in photography, made me immediately want to figure out how to get involved once moving to the Chicago area.
This past month, I ended up getting the opportunity to not only speak with the Explorers at one of their weekday discussion-based meetings, but also to join them in Pilsen for their first photo expedition of the semester. You could think of the expedition as a photo field trip of sorts, but there was so much more to it than that – it gave the students the opportunity to explore a part of their city where many had never been before, to check out and photograph some incredible murals, to understand how intertwined art and culture often are when they visited The National Museum of Mexican Art, and to see art’s unconventionality through viewing the studio of Hector Duarte, a muralist who has turned the exterior of his building into a piece of public artwork.
Watching the students explore, photograph, and learn was the best way I could have possibly spent a Saturday; and eating a slew of delicious tacos with everyone afterward wasn’t too shabby, either.