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After several decades of practicing photography, I felt I was qualified enough to spend a few days mentoring middle and high school students who participated in a four-week summer program created by the Smithsonian‚Äôs National Building Museum (NBM).¬†¬† The students of the Investigating Where We Live program used digital cameras to explore, document, and interpret the built environment in D.C. neighborhoods.¬†¬† The group of ten, to whom I was assigned, captured the U Street area with photographs, writings, and artwork.
In introducing myself to the group, I showed them work from two assignments: the previous day‚Äôs shoot of the American Federation of Teachers annual national conference and my project in Somaliland, East Africa.
During our tours of the U Street area, I was surprised how much I knew about the area‚Äôs past, its architecture, businesses, specific buildings and events.¬† For example, I explained how Florida Avenue was a path made by Native Americans that described the bottom of hill that rises north of Florida Avenue from 4th Street NW to Connecticut Avenue NW, two miles away.
By the time I met the students, they had seen an exhibit featuring the 90-year span of photography created by Washington, D.C.‚Äôs Scurlock family.¬† Since I‚Äôve known and know several Scurlocks, I had a bit of insight on what the students experienced at the exhibit.¬† This is a must-see exhibit, and I‚Äôll probably take it in for the third time before the show closes in September.
Over the years, I have made many architectural photographs around U Street, and I had been atop several buildings where I was astonished by the hundreds of cupolas that cap the townhouses of the U Street and Shaw areas.¬†¬† Those cupolas and other details will be featured in an NBM exhibition of the students‚Äô results.
Posted by: marvinbright