Kristine Heykants led high school students from The FAIR High School for the Arts in exploring identity and social justice through the lens of photography, creating images now displayed on the school building exterior and billboards. This work started last year just before lockdown for the pandemic, preventing them from completing their workshops. Heykants and the students picked up where they left off with many of the same students and some new as well. She is excited to build upon the themes of identity and social justice, bringing passion to inspire youth on their life journeys. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications and a BFA in art and design. She has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board and exhibits widely. Heykants also teaches photography at Minneapolis College.
Using historic and contemporary examples as a point of departure, students investigated portraiture within the context of visual communications and personal expression, learning how photography can capture this particular moment in our shared lived history of the pandemic and social uprising.
While immersed in the creative process, students experimented with different personas through a mixture of visual research, reflection and technical instruction. After learning about layers of meaning in portraiture and its cousins the snapshot and selfie, they produced portraits that provide an empowering platform of visibility at this critical stage of their lives.
FAIR students started this workshop with Kristine just before schools were shut down in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. Since the students were unable to complete the workshops at that time, Kristine was invited back this year to pick up where they left off. The workshops that had started out exploring the theme of identity evolved to allow students to reflect on the impact the pandemic and social uprising had on their lives and the communities they live in.
The 2020 workshop was held in the photo studios at Minneapolis College. The 2021 workshop moved outdoors onto Hennepin Avenue to accommodate COVID restrictions. Kristine had fun seeing them get used to using the equipment. As they became more comfortable, their creativity blossomed. They experimented with backgrounds, angles, and lighting — it was a fantastic opportunity to get outside, be back with their classmates and learn new skills.
Miguel Gomez Onofre
Jaime Dee Hunziker
Lizbeth Ruiz Bautista
Alexander Van Dyke