DANVILLE -- Tessa Sternberg captured her image of a woman wearing a conical hat through the side-view mirror of a motorcycle. Emma Schwartz's photograph showed a 6-year-old girl handling a snake nearly twice her size. While Nicole Thrower's lens focused on the profiles and landscape of Southeast Asia.
Together the three juniors at The Athenian School will have their photography shown publicly along with eight other classmates, who spent two weeks in March traveling through Cambodia and Vietnam and capturing images of the people and cultures. The exhibit "Perspectives; Life in Cambodia and Vietnam" begins Friday and runs through Nov. 9 at the Village Theatre Art Gallery in Danville. A special free opening event will be held 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. and features a student presentation about their experiences at 7 p.m.
"Before I went on this trip, photography was just a class for me and something fun for me to do," said Schwartz. "After the trip, it really changed my view on photography and it became a new language for me to communicate with."
Schwartz and her fellow classmates spent two weeks in March getting acquainted with their new form of communication. Schwartz, who had not had formal photography experience until taking a class during her sophomore year, captured more than 2,000 images from the trip. Like Sternberg and Thrower, who took more than 3,000 images, Schwartz had to whittle her selection down to 20 photos that were submitted to a panel of judges that were assigned to select the images for the exhibit.
"It was challenging and stressful," said Sternberg about the selection process. "Our teacher challenged us to look outside the box."
The trip was part of the Athenian School's Interim program, in which school faculty lead students on adventures ranging from Bay Area day trips to international excursions like the one to Cambodia and Vietnam.
Niki Stefanelli, a Fine Arts teacher at Athenian for the past 14 years, led the trip to Cambodia and Vietnam after traveling to the same countries with her family the previous year. Stefanelli has also led Interim trips for Athenian students to Ghana. She was accompanied on the Cambodia and Vietnam trip by Athenian librarian Jim Sternberg and John Rizzo, a professional photographer who spent five days working with the group in Cambodia.
"I was interested in Cambodia and Vietnam because both have had some historically tragic things happen, and I was interested in how those tragedies impacted (those countries) today," said Stefanelli.
The trip also represented a chance for Schwartz, Thrower and Sternberg to experience developing countries. The trio, like some of their other classmates, had experience traveling abroad but had never been to countries like Cambodia or Vietnam. The experience was a chance for the students to step outside their comfort zones and have their world views altered.
"It is a totally different atmosphere than you would get in America," said Thrower, who had traveled to Europe. "The people and culture were amazing, and even with so much poverty the people are so nice and welcoming."
In addition to the students sharing their experiences through their images and words at the exhibit, their artwork as well as postcards with their work on them will be for sale with the proceeds benefiting Sala Phum Bourn Primary School in Cambodia, which is one of the sites the students visited. Stefanelli is also tentatively planning another trip to Cambodia and Vietnam this summer.
that will be open to high school students from Danville.
For exhibit details, contact Amy Miller, Danville's visual arts program coordinator at email@example.com. For information on the tentative upcoming trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, contact Stefanelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exhibit "Perspectives; Life in Cambodia and Vietnam" begins Friday and runs through Nov. 9 at the Village Theatre Art Gallery, 233 Front St. in Danville. For details, call 925-314-3400. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.