SAN FRANCISCO - Several area members of the Boys & Girls Club photography program presented their collaborative work “Star Stories” at the California Academy of Sciences’ “MAX [Media Art Xploration] 2019: A Space Festival” in San Francisco last weekend.
Based in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth. It is among the largest museums of natural history in the world as well as California’s oldest museum.
Astronomy, referred to as Star Knowledge, plays an important role in traditional Lakota cultural identity. For the MAX Festival project “Star Stories,” a number of students in the photography program at the Rosebud Boys & Girls Club explored their ancestor’s traditional star knowledge and created photomurals expressing their connection to the cosmos. Through still photos and video profiles featuring interviews with figures in their community, the students explored Lakota ancestral cosmology with the guidance of visual artist and educator Robin Dahlberg and Sally Katz, Curatorial Assistant of Photography at SFMOMA.
The main body of work consists of a dozen photomurals composed of four individual still photographs, with each panel representing a concept the students learned during interviews with elders, naturalists, and Star Knowledge experts. The images incorporated people, plants and flowers, landscapes, skyscapes, and experimental techniques with props, mirrors, colored filters, and lighting. The group also visited the Badlands during its annual Astronomy Festival, and in the summer and fall of 2018, professional photographers Robin Dahlberg, Josee Schyrer, and Veronica Melendez of the teaching collaborative 5 Corners Collective held two photography workshops at the Boys & Girls Club in Mission.
Photographs produced by the youth were on display over the weekend, as well as a multimedia presentation that delves into specific star stories and interviews conducted by the young photographers of figures in their community. Visitors were encouraged to share their own “star story” during an all-day live podcast recording.
While in San Francisco, the usually land-locked students had an opportunity to stick their toes into the Pacific Ocean and experience world-class food, sight-seeing trips, and, of course, cable cars.