Students from Paris, Chicago put on photo exhibit

November 1, 2010 5:20:16 PM PDT
An exhibit of photographs taken by kids from the Altgeld Gardens housing project in Chicago and their counterparts in La Courneve, a disadvantaged community near Paris, France, will be on display from November 1-6 at the Daley Center.

With Barack Obama becoming the Democratic nominee for president in 2008, the Altgeld Gardens housing project was swarmed with reporters. Cheryl Johnson, who started a photography program for children, was disgruntled with the fact that she couldn't get a single camera donated to her cause. That all changed when a French reporter requested an interview.

"I can't even get cameras for my kids, so Patrice Thomas told me, 'I promise, Cheryl, you give me an interview, I will go back to Paris and get you some donated cameras,'" said Cheryl Johnson, People for Community Recovery.

Three months later, 15 cameras donated by Samsung arrived and the photography program was underway.

The French Foundation Fete Le Mur, which was started by tennis great Yannich Noah, father of Bulls forward Joaciam Noah, made Monday's event possible.

"I learned about Cheryl Johnson's project about photography and then we decided through this foundation to get the two projects together," said Severine Thiffry, Fete Le Mur.

For the youthful photographers, the experience has vastly improved their photo skills.

"The background has to be kind of lighted, in the face, too. I try not to put the face in the center, but on the side to get the background," said Koby Brown, Altgeld Gardens photographer.

"When you look at the pictures, you have to look at background, too. Not just the picture. You got to look at the whole thing," said Jazlyn Clarke, Altgeld Gardens photographer.

The young French photographers are enjoying getting to know a new city.

"Everything is going fine. The buildings are wonderful. They're beautiful. We are being welcomed really warmly," said Mohamed Najem, French youth photographer, through a translator.

In April, the Chicago students will travel to Paris to display their work. The two groups have formed a special bond that can overcome any geographical or language barrier.

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