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Jermani-Headshot.jpg
AP 2-D
Deerfield Academy|Deerfield, Massachusetts
Jermani
Maker
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Dimensions: 19”x 13”|Materials: DSLR Camera, Ps|Process(es): Staged shoot with multiple poses behind a glass cube.|Curatorial Note: Strong image relating to an important topic.

Student statement

My first artwork is titled "WE’RE STILL HERE, AS TRAPPED AS WE MAY BE," and the second is titled "In Times of Peace, We Hold Strong." The third image highlights an exhibition of my portfolio held at the Von Auersperg Gallery at Deerfield Academy.

Growing up in New Orleans, I was always considered a “Katrina baby.” I was only ten months old when the storm hit, so I have no first-hand recollection of the tragedy. However, I heard vivid stories from my mom, older siblings, and many people around the city. Recollections of how much the city changed, how people died, and how everyone reached an immeasurable amount of suffering and loss. A sense of anger was also present towards the media, city, and government. My sustained investigation addresses the complicated dynamic between the water and the people of New Orleans, with awareness about an infrastructure prioritizing the white and wealthy. My artwork addresses the injustices of systemic racism while acknowledging the perseverance of the African-American community. I want to celebrate the strength of black women while recognizing that we all need help sometimes, and our societal construct is a long way from equity. Inequality has submerged our voices, and I want to rise about it all. My inquiry came to me quickly, as I always wanted to showcase and bring a piece of home to where I was. I went away to boarding school for the entirety of high school, so I didn’t go to high school in New Orleans, and no one at school was from New Orleans or Louisiana except my English teacher from junior year. I wanted to showcase a more complex side of the city, besides Mardi Gras or whatever tourists first imagine when they think of the city. I was so proud and glad to bring my home to a new audience, and even more so that I got to do it through my photography, a language everyone can understand.

The main challenges that accompanied my development were implementing the water into my photos and the limited source material around me. I kept asking myself, “How can I convey my message in a way that’s not too obvious but not too vague?” That’s when photographers such as Loran Simpson and Gordon Parks came into play. They were significant inspirations and motivations when pushing through the development. Taking inspiration from Lorna Simpson allowed me to combine my love of poetry and creative writing. My friends handwrote all the text incorporated into my photos, but all the words are mine. The handwritten text created that scrapbook or diary effect that I was going for, as when I was creating the poetic text, I wanted to keep in mind whose voice this was supposed to be. It wasn’t my voice written on the photos; it’s theirs. I was able to hone in on this towards the end of my process. In the beginning, everything was experimentation. I was experimenting with digital vs. film cameras and the effect that I was going for; before I thought to incorporate handwritten text, I was experimenting with fonts, and most importantly, during photoshoots, I was experimenting with models, props, water, setting, and how I wanted these all to interact. Before each shoot, I would ask myself, "What do I want to accomplish today? What message am I trying to convey? How should I convey that message?

Consistency and synthesis were key in developing my portfolio, but they were among the biggest challenges I had to overcome. I was able to achieve this for numerous reasons: What first comes to mind is that I already had a strong idea from the very beginning, and not only did I have a solid idea, but it was also complex enough to leave plenty of room for exploration, experimentation, and creativity. My sustained investigation couldn’t be done in one photo. Each photo is like a puzzle piece to a 15-piece puzzle. They all serve different purposes but come together for a common goal. I always considered this when taking, editing, and revising each photo. Each photo had to have a statement, a different aspect, but still be relevant. They all have to build up from each other to become a whole.

My biggest advice to other AP Art and Design students is to follow the thinking I just explained and utilize and appreciate all the resources you have around you. Remember, motivation and inspiration come and go, but a transparent, solid goal and message to showcase to the world will always be consistent and will keep you going. My classmates and teacher knew that about me and continued to push and help me develop this portfolio into what it came to be. I am forever grateful to all of them for an amazing senior year of photography.
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Growing up as a Katrina baby, I always heard the stories of Hurricane Katrina—the stories of how life used to be before Katrina hit, and how things used to be. I wanted to attempt to visualize my feelings about my home city of New Orleans, to pay tribute to all the stories and voices unheard, the story of my home, highlighting the struggles and journey of my family and many others. The aftermath, from leaving home to coming back to an unfamiliar territory, plagued by corrupt politicians and racial and economic inequality, split the city more than the storm and flood did.
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"In Times of Peace, We Hold Strong," Dimensions: 19” x 13”|Materials: DSLR Camera, Ps|Process(es): Introducing the theme of water and weather, the strength of family through all the obstacles.|Curatorial Note: This is a powerful photograph that makes me want to go hug my kids—very strong portfolio.
Dimensions: 19” x 13”|Materials: DSLR Camera, PS|Process(es): Art gallery exhibition shot, with a display of photos and text from the photographer.
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I was inspired by Lorna Simpson’s use of photographs and text to deliver a powerful, compelling message and story; I staged my photoshoots with friends, standing in for Hurricane Katrina's victims with carefully chosen clothing and props, and used a digital camera. I added all original text to represent the voices, thoughts, and feelings of those who were lost and those who survived. This multi-staged journey involved various locations, changes in clothing, and, most importantly, the relationship between humans and water.

TEacher statement

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Timothy Trelease
We begin by studying the elements and principles of design and practice composing thoughtful photographs, perhaps utilizing aperture priority, veiling elements, shadow play, frame-within-a-frame, the golden ratio, a diptych, and/or triptych format. I encourage my students to find a unique perspective, a personal point of view, to offer the viewer a new perspective of the world. We take many field trips to diversify source material at locations such as a horse-powered farm, a post-industrial mill town, an abandoned slaughterhouse, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. For added inspiration, we seek out exhibits by contemporary and iconic artists who address socio-political concerns from many points of view.

To choose a theme of inquiry, I ask my students to make a list of topics which they care deeply about. I ask, "What do you love? What do you fear?" Students are encouraged to sketch with digital and film cameras, experiment with props and costumes, lighting and exposure, and further explorations in the darkroom and post-production digital editing. Once Jermani chose to pursue a theme involving the complexities of life growing up in New Orleans, post-Hurricane Katrina, she sought out various ways to utilize water in her photographs. Jermani filled plastic cubes with water and worked with friends as models to pose behind the cubes, stand in the cubes, and, in effect, create a haunting sense of dreaming or drowning. Jermani also photographed her mother and young sisters along the banks of the Mississippi to broaden the age range with her images. Eventually, Jermani further complicated her inquiry by synthesizing multiple photos into a series of montages. Jermani added poetic text and culminated her series with a mixed media installation, for which she submerged her silver prints in a cube of water beside her digital montages.

While working on this portfolio, Jermani was a creative force of nature, tireless in her efforts to realize her vision. For example, when Jermani was attempting to add text to her montages, she began by composing short poems and trying different text blocks with a variety of digital fonts; however, she could not find the right look to truly express her heartfelt feelings about those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. After much trial and error, Jermani finally asked a classmate to write out Jermani’s poems by hand in a journal, as if the text were written by someone during the storm itself. Jermani photographed the journal pages and cropped and layered the text alongside her photographs to achieve her objective.

I am incredibly fortunate to work at a school with students like Jermani. Our collaborations have taught me more than I ever thought possible.

Head of School statement

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John Austin
At Deerfield Academy, we support young artists exploring creative expression using various media, styles, and techniques. Students create work rich in narrative content and sophisticated techniques throughout the studio art sequence. Our studio courses draw on art history and often refer to contemporary artwork. Like Jermani’s photography portfolio, each project celebrates personal expression with a distinct point of view. Regular group critique ensures that students develop the language and skills of artistic analysis. Hailing from the distinctly rich cultural milieu of Southern Louisiana, Jermani’s work in the photography studio reflects her confident independence and ardent nonconformity. Growing up in the post-Katrina world of New Orleans, Jermani has confronted her early experiences to make work that critically examines life after the storm. Like many Deerfield students, her work bravely probes the social, cultural, and environmental forces at play in our contemporary world.
Jermani Maker