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Dittmar Gallery Exhibition to Focus on the Impoverished

February 6, 2007 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, ILL. --- The portraits featured in the Northwestern University Dittmar Memorial Gallery's second winter 2007 exhibition “Stories of the City,” by the Sixth Street Photography Workshop (SSPW) are part of an ongoing project involving San Francisco residents who have experienced poverty or homelessness first hand.

“Stories of the City,” which opens Feb. 14 and runs through March 16, and an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, are both free and open to the public. Tom Ferentz, founder and director of SSPW will be the featured guest at the reception.

The gallery is located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston campus.

San Francisco's Sixth Street Photography Workshop is a highly respected program that shares the art and skills of photography with impoverished and homeless people. Ferentz, an award-winning photographer who teaches photography at the University of San Francisco, launched SSPW in 1991. Staff, volunteer photographers and students assist Ferentz.

The photographs featured at Dittmar are of residents of single resident occupancy hotels and traditional housing. They were taken by advanced photographers with the workshop, by Ferentz, local residents that are mainly teenagers, volunteer photographers, photography students and photographer and former SSPW Project Director Amanda Herman.

Public art exhibitions and projects are central to realizing the SSPW's mission, along with consistent free instruction and support for its participants. The traveling exhibition at the Dittmar is part of the workshop's goal to share its 13-year archive of images documenting the city's low-income and homeless community. For more information about SSPW visit <http://www.sixthstreetphoto.org>.

SSPW's “Free Portrait Days” are held in temporary on-site lighting studios. They provide artistic portrait services free of charge, while offering training in lighting and portrait photography. Portrait days are held in empty storefronts and single resident occupancy hotels along Sixth Street, San Francisco's “Skid Row,” and in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods.

The ongoing weekly workshop has provided free photography classes to residents of San Francisco's hotels and homeless shelters for more than a decade. Class participants are recruited from shelters, residential hotels, social service agencies and community organizations. For the past five years, Ferentz, S. Renée Jones, Billy Mitchell, Rodney Entrikin and other advanced workshop participants have taught the workshops collaboratively.

During the Feb. 22 opening reception “Stories of the City, Sixth Street Photography Workshop Portrait Project 1991 - 2005,” a new 42-page, full-color art catalog with introductory essays by Ferentz, Herman and workshop photographer and teacher S. Renée Jones, will be available to the general public for a $15 donation (the student and low-income donation is $10). Donations will benefit SSPW.

Dittmar Memorial Gallery places emphasis on ethnic cultural art, art by emerging artists, art by or about women, artwork by Northwestern undergraduate and graduate art students and traveling art shows.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission is free. For more information call (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail <dittmargallery@northwestern.edu> or go to the Norris Center Web site at <www.dittmar.northwestern.edu/>.

Topics: Campus Life