UArts students co-curate exhibition for high school photographers

April 22, 2024

UArts students in the Photography program have co-curated an exhibition of high school student work titled A Sense of Place, producing the exhibition from the ground up as part of their studies toward an Art History minor.

Co-curators Alexander Medlin II ’25 (Interdisciplinary Art), Isabella Kahn ’25 (Photography), and Miosotis Negrón ’24 (Photography) invited high schoolers to submit work in response to the theme of “home.” Thirty-six artists were selected from four high schools: the Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; Westtown School, West Chester, Pennsylvania; River Dell High School, Oradell, New Jersey; and Etobicoke School of the Arts, Ontario.

Christa DiMarco, associate professor, program director of Art History, and coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Art BFA, oversaw the project and guided the curators. The co-curators worked with DiMarco to devise a short list of high schools with which UArts has previously been in touch and contacted their arts faculty with instrumental help from School of Art Dean Sheryl Oring and Photography Program Director Jennifer Greenburg.

The co-curators wrote and designed a compelling call for entry and were ultimately thrilled by the responses. They reviewed all the submissions and accepted more that 40 images from 36 applicants. The students were invited to submit up to three entries each.

Photographer German Vazquez BFA ’20 (Photography) served as guest juror and awarded three emerging artists with first place (Emma Lindeman, Shipley School), second place (Eric Li, Westtown School), and third place (Caleb Pryor, Shipley School) honors. The high school students submitted photographic works spanning a range of approaches, from evocative editorial imagery to documentary street photography.

“We wanted to underscore the importance of photography and exhibition opportunities in the lives of young artists,” DiMarco said. “Our intention was to recognize their work, provide a public forum, and show them how the arts can serve as a beacon. We hope this experience shapes their young-adult lives and helps them see the arts as a positive, viable pathway.”

Though DiMarco oversaw the project, she emphasized that the theme and nearly every decision related to the exhibition—writing the call for entries, managing the jurying process, drafting email communication, professionally printing the photographs, designing the exhibition catalog, posting social-media outreach, and installing and de-installing the show—was student-driven. Designing an exhibition not only strengthened the students’ hands-on skills, but also taught them how to collaborate with emerging artists and educators through a shared passion for visual art.

“I was so proud to watch the co-curators step into a demanding professional project and execute their vision,” DiMarco said. “Art History minors are interested in pursuing curatorial practices and working in museums or galleries, so I am always looking to broaden their horizons and offer them professional career paths.”

The student curators did more than make an impact on the exhibiting high school students, who were visibly excited at the opening. Through the work that they did for A Sense of Place, they also built a model for future high school exhibitions and UArts student-curated exhibitions in campus galleries. Future student-curated exhibitions will be able to reach a wider group of emerging artists thanks to the work, dedication, and inventive ideas of the initial three student curators.

photograph of a person seen from the waist down wearing white pants and brown shoes playing hopscotch, with the grid shakily drawn with white chalk on an azure blue court, ringed by a wooden fence and green suburban scenery. the person's shape has some motion blur.
Emma Lindeman, “Untitled,” 2023


The first-place recipient, Emma Lindeman, has won a full-tuition scholarship to UArts’ Summer Institute to study in the Art, Media, and Design program, and is excited to join UArts this summer and take Photography classes.

On hearing about A Sense of Place, Michelle Moody (née Kless) BFA ’84 (Photography) shared that a similar experience forged her path. “During my junior year of high school, one of my black-and-white portraits was chosen for a project similar to [A Sense of Place], and it was that opportunity that gave me the confidence to commit to becoming an artist.”

A Sense of Place: High School Photography Exhibition

Exhibition Dates: April 13–May 2, 2024

Photography Gallery at University of the Arts
Terra Hall, 15th floor
211 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Building hours
Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.