My wife, Lyndsay, has been teaching art classes for the ArtSmart program through the Lancaster Creative Factory. The program is dedicated to offering opportunities to experience the transformational power of art by educating under-served children in the arts. She teaches children serving time in the Lancaster County Youth Intervention Center (YIC) as well as those living in shelters within Lancaster City.
Earlier this week Lyndsay came home asking for my help in photographing a recent mural completed by the students of YIC. The mural is being entered into a contest held between various juvenile detention centers throughout Pennsylvania to showcase the students work and award the center who has the best programming. I thought this would be a great opportunity to visit her workplace since it is normally off limits to the public. I also was interested in experiencing what life is really like for these teenagers who have made bad decisions and now are facing their consequences.
After arriving in the near empty parking lot I entered the main doors and used the intercom system to let them know who I was and the purpose of my visit. I was greeted by the program coordinator, Bryan, who was happy I could take care of this for them in such short notice. Next, I signed the visitor log and made my way through the metal detector (obviously my gear was allowed in). I was amazed at the security and procedures the center has in place. I’ve never been to a jail before but this place was easily the closest thing to it that I have ever experienced. Even though the center had a feeling of a jail it was also heavily decorated with past art work of students including an awesome piano they painted and decorated. We walked through a couple of doors all of which had to be opened with Bryan’s clearance. We made our way to the cafeteria where a group of boys were eating dinner. All wearing orange jump suits in socks. All of their shoes, black converse one stars were sitting of the floor next to a nearby hallway. Security guards stood at attention against the wall watching over the ones they were responsible for. They finished up their meals, were each patted down and then laced up their shoes. After they all cleared out of the room it was my turn to start photographing. I decided to take a few bracketed exposures and hopefully create a HDR image to bring out the texture of the stainless steel tables bolted to the floor. I took a few different angles but decided I liked my initial composition choice best. A few minutes later I headed out before the next group was to enter for their meal.
Hopefully the above photo will help the center win the contest. To say the least it was an eye opening experience. I got to see what troubled youth in detention centers live like and some of the art work my wife helps the students produce.
This image and more are available for sale on my photos page.