Ripple Effect is the result of a multi-phased community collaboration beginning with a series of six hands-on photography workshops for high school students at Girls Inc. of Holyoke, facilitated by artist Erika Zekos. Renowned photographer Jerome Liebling’s “A Walk Through Holyoke” photographs were the springboard for this project. The student-photographers started by carefully considering Liebling’s work, learning about the camera and their own neighborhoods. Later, inspired by Liebling, they learned to take and critique their own pictures and together curated which ones to exhibit. Throughout the process they developed a sense of community awareness and pride. Using the camera as a tool for “seeing” their city in a new way, the students used writing, visual arts, graphic design, and peer presentation to share their ideas about the city they call home.
Ripple Effect poetry was developed by Enchanted Circle Theater as a creative community response to the photographs that were taken by girls at Girls Inc. during the Holyoke Through Our Eyes project. ECT teaching artist, Melissa Redwin, conducted a series of creative writing workshops with groups of individuals from a cross-section of the community, from middle school students to seniors at the Senior Center, those who know Holyoke intimately, and those who do not. The idea was based on the belief that the girls’ photographs would spark other peoples’ imagination and encourage them to reflect on their sense of place, home, beauty, culture, and history. Through this project, we believe both participants and viewers will be drawn to explore art and culture and the community of Holyoke in new and wonderful ways, creating a further ripple effect of creative responses.