Visual Studies of Social Life

April 3, 2010 – April 24, 2010photo

Opening Reception:

First Saturday Gallery Crawl: April 3, 2010; 6-9pm

Free Photovoice Workshop: April 13, 2010; 7-9pm

“Photovoice” is a collaborative project created by students in the course “Seeing Social Life” at Vanderbilt University, under the supervision of Professor Laura Carpenter. This participatory research/photography project will be on display at Blend Studio from April 3 to April 24, 2010, with an opening reception on April 3, from 6-9pm. A free Photovoice workshop will be presented through SNAP (Society of Nashville’s Artistic Photographers) on April 13 from 7 to 9pm at Blend Studio. Featuring dozens of photographs accompanied by quotations from the people who took them, the exhibition sheds new light on four diverse yet integral aspects of the greater Nashville community: working mothers, the beauty industry, roller derby, and live music venues.

In February and March 2010, the twenty undergraduate students in “Seeing Social Life” distributed disposable cameras to people involved in four distinctive social “scenes”: roller derby, beauty salons, working mothers, and live music venues. Recipients of these cameras took photographs of the important things in their lives, then discussed their pictures with students from the class. Each of these conversations considered: What is really happening in this photograph? How does this relate to our lives? Why does this problem or strength exist? What can we do about it? The result is an insiders’ look at four different parts of the greater Nashville community, showing both its strengths and places where change might be desirable.

Visitors are encouraged to respond to the exhibit by writing in the comment book at the gallery and especially by talking with the participants when they are present.

Photovoice is a participatory research method, based on the premises that people are experts on their own lives, that photographs can be used to draw attention to social issues, and that people should be active participants in understanding and changing their communities. A visual technique used by sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and public health scholars, Photovoice provides people with cameras for recording what they see as the important aspects of their own lives. These pictures are used to promote critical group discussion about personal and community issues and assets. The ultimate goal is to reach – and touch – policy makers.

Participating Students:

Gabrielle Avery-Peck, Kendall Cox, Jarrod Franklin, Zachary Gilbert, Abigail Gravenhorst, Carithers Hosch, Siena Kissel, Kate Martin, Emma Nagel, Zoe Nagel, Ashley Oliver, Christine Orlowski, April Philley, Kimberly Pinkney,

Jaclyn Quartner, Meghan Rose, Janelle Stokes, Hagan Sullivan, Raeonda Williams, Vanessa Yu

Get Involved!

Photovoice is a flexible, adaptable method for better understanding all sorts of communities, organizations, and activities, from neighborhoods to workplaces to hobbies to extended families. Many groups worldwide have used Photovoice techniques in order to foster community/ organizational change and activism in ways that is not “bottom down” but grounded in local knowledge and desires. A printed guide to resources for individuals and groups interested in using Photovoice to learn more about their own lives can be picked up at the gallery.

Find out more information about the exhibition at


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