We Create Something Beautiful: The Process of Portraiture


This fall, Sociedad Latina’s Youth Leaders partnered with Massachusetts College of Art & Design’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships (CACP) and Photography Department to explore issues of agency, identity, and representation through photographic portrait. This annual project fosters a collaborative effort that allows all of our young people to explore the collective and bridge-building potential of photography.

“The conversation with Sociedad Latina and MassArt students simultaneously disrupts the cycle of stereotypes and creates a space where an authentic connection could happen...The resulting photographs and personal statements illustrate a trust and consideration of how and why someone is represented in front of the lens...These photographs begin to tell that story.” -Lyssa Palu-ay, Interim Provost

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MassArt’s Photographic Portrait and Community Representation course was facilitated by Professor Kathya Landeros, with two teaching assistants. Fifteen undergraduate and graduate MassArt photography students explored the photographic portrait and its use as a mode of representation. Each of our Youth Leaders were paired with one photography student and met over four weeks to share each other’s stories. They were also included in the decision-making process at every turn by providing feedback about props, lighting, and composition to contribute to the meaning of each portrait.

“I learned that it is not easy work to take beautiful pictures and that we are all unique in how we take pictures. I liked going to MassArt and learning about what the photography students do, everyone was so nice and made me feel comfortable.” -Anadalay Rodriguez, Youth Community Organizer

On December 19, MassArt hosted the We Make/We Take photo exhibition, where the photography students and our Youth Leaders presented their portraits to MassArt faculty and students, their peers, and community residents. The exhibition demonstrated the collaborative process of how these photographs were made together rather than taken. During the reception, our Youth Leaders shared their experiences of having aspects of their identity captured on camera and the process of creating a piece that represented them as an individual.

“When people with the same interest come together, we create something beautiful.” -Radelquis Benoist, Youth Community Organizer

A very special thank you to MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships, Kathya Landeros, and the students in the Photographic Portrait and Community Representation course!

Maria Grande