This semester, students in UT Art Professor Deborah Orloff’s Social Documentary Photography class have been working in partnership with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and AmeriCorp to help further Toledo’s Strategic Plan for Arts and Culture.The city’s plan is designed to “support cultural vibrancy, economic revitalization, and to connect and grow the rich network of creative life that exists in Toledo.”
Working with the Arts Commission, Orloff and her students have volunteered their talents to help capture the stories of Toledo’s creatives and community leaders. Students have been interviewing people in the community and capturing the essence of their work through photographs.
The students’ images will be featured on the Arts Commission’s new website, print materials, and in an exhibition at the Parkwood Gallery, which is housed in the Professional Building at 1838 Parkwood Ave. The exhibition, “Toledo Vitality,” will open with a reception Thursday, April 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“Toledo is a vibrant city with rich cultural resources, and a thriving arts scene, but, ultimately, people make a city great,” Orloff said. “This exhibition celebrates some of those individuals.”
Orloff said the Department of Art’s innovative class was designed to expose students to the rich history of social documentary photography and allow students to experiment within the genre, while simultaneously working within the community in a professional capacity. The service-learning component of the course provides students with practical, hands-on experience working with regional agencies to support and enhance the local community.“It’s an amazing opportunity for the students to get professional experience out in the real world while simultaneously helping to further the city’s Strategic Plan for Arts and Culture and improve the region; each student is making a difference in the community,” Orloff said. “It’s important to talk about social change and look at slides in a classroom, but our students are actually out there doing it.”
The class also will serve UT’s new Peace Studies Program and become a regular offering in the Department of Art.
A second photography exhibition is on display in the Center for the Visual Arts Clement Gallery at UT’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus. This exhibit features examples of the photo students’ personal projects, also created in the social documentary class.
Both free, public exhibitions will run through Thursday, May 5, and the galleries will remain open until 7:30 p.m. April 21 for the next 3rd Thursday Art Loop.
Parkwood Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Clement Gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information, contact Orloff, associate chair of the UT Art Department, at 419.530.8314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.