‘The People That Are in These Frames’: A Community Offers Self-Portrait

Established in 2011, the Bronx Documentary Center is a gallery and teaching space in the Melrose neighborhood that provides screenings, exhibitions and education programs in documentary film and photography to members of the local community. The center’s education manager, Bianca Farrow, said it aims to help people use photography “as a tool to believe in themselves, the stories they have to tell, and interest in exploring their own history.” Creating a community that keeps it going.”

As part of that mission, the center operates the Bronx Junior Photo League, a nine-month photography and college success program, and the Bronx Senior Photo League, courses for older adults held at senior centers in the borough. Over the past year, the pandemic led to the individual dismissing the directive. But the center adapted: It offered classes virtually, or as a phone call, and sent each student a camera, which they used to document their own lives as the world revolved around them.

Earlier this year, The New York Times asked both the senior and junior leagues to make self-portraits; How he defined self-portrait was up to him. His photographs are included in a year-end exhibition at the gallery, now on display until June 20. For more information, see bronxdoc.org.

“Every day I pull up the living room window curtains to let in the morning light. Before the pandemic, I did it to nurture houseplants, but I realize it’s a ritual that nurtures me as well. does.”

“I am an optimist and believe in the power of karma, always grateful for what I have. These values ​​guided me through my journey as a Mexican immigrant living in the United States I feel more confident about this class and the pictures create a lot of emotion in me.”

“Quarantine forced me to isolate everything; My community and my happiness were taken away, and I realized a truth I had overlooked. Accepting myself as a queer teenager was the only good thing to come out of it. “

“Study your surroundings. Study them as if it’s the last time, make sure you don’t forget anything. When you make her smile, the sound of her laugh, the way she looks at you to show her affection.” Holds hands, study every wrinkle that comes across her face.”

“I am re-living my middle school days. Excluded for my unibrow, my confidence was compromised. Lifeless body hair dying a silent death. Razors, threading, waxing – anything to maintain the beauty that exists beyond the physicality. Femininity, a place that feels strange no matter how many times I face her path. “

“Recently I reflect on dark moments, closed doors and drawn curtains due to the pandemic. I am watching my baby’s breath, looking forward to recovery after surgery and the future for me. Soon I will leave my shadow behind and finally reach my destination.

“Soon there will be an end to Covid-19. While at home I learned to play the piano to keep busy. My reflection and I were often my only company. Until I found new friends and adventures in virtual reality. “

“The world turned upside down; It was no longer about having fun because it was time to get serious. I could not go out and have fun with my family like we did before the Covid-19 pandemic. I miss the people who are within these frames.”

“I see the city’s sold-out municipal parking that paved the way for gentrification in my community. As I walk through this beautiful place, I think of my family’s laughter after a Sunday of shopping, something that many of my neighbors and I can no longer enjoy. “

“My name is Aminata, Ami for short. I am 15 years old and the second of four children. I am calm and live in my own little bubble. With my photos, I am sharing this information to other people. I look forward to what it is like to live in my mind and experience thought, image and reflection.”

“I love taking pictures of people, nature, sunsets, shadows created by celestial bodies and man-made structures. I remember taking my first self-portrait in 1962 in a hotel room in Baltimore. Since that selfie in 1962, I have become aware of the beauty of the world that I took so lightly over the years.”

“I love photographing my 3-year-old granddaughter, Najimah. I take care of her when her mother has to go to work and day care is closed. Watching a baby at birth and watching her grow up It is a blessing to watch. A grandmother’s love is double the love of a parent and child.”

“I lost my grandfather on April 5, 2020, due to Covid. Dancing with cumbia, zapatidos and Mexican rock was one way we connected. The way my whole Brown family connects. In this picture I am venting anger, sadness and coping with my depression with dance. I know he is right next to me and looking at me laughing. Every spin and stomp makes me feel free.”

“I am reflecting on a difficult time in my life when I and my entire family had COVID-19 for almost 3 months. I will always remember those long nights, telling myself not to succumb to the disease and try to fight it. “

“Coronavirus lockdown engulfed itself in my life. In times of uncertainty, the peace prayer struck me. I devoted myself to my craft and ran into stories from my DVD library. Once my friends and I were vaccinated, we had a cup of coffee together. Planning ahead feels liberating. “

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