"Self Love"

As a African American man born and raised in a community placed on the south side of Chicago, through the perspective of Bruce Bennett (myself) I primarily focused on African-American individuals, their cultural background and experiences. Some may know that select neighborhoods of Chicago are known for a high crime rate. Demographics who are native may be socio-economically disadvantaged. Including lack of employment, education, and racism. Its a cycle of poverty that’s hard to break. Growing up in the scene of Chicago with my mother, brother and sister, I wanted my photographs to speak on the life of Chicago, but also as my life continues to transplant to different locations such as Minnesota, Cincinnati, and New York. From the age of 15 when photography first became an important interest in my life, I decided that I would use it not only for myself, but to transform individuals that I may encounter in my life. Giving a brighter outlook on our society, presenting my audience with the kind of experiences that have made me the artist and a human being I am today. I’m also in the process of discovering why my stories and action can transform the next individual mind, mainly with society's youth. Through the line of history of African Americans, we always progress our youth and teach the meaning of today's life. Displaying a life that our children can follow and may one day be inspired by. Looking back on our history, I remember in the 1970's the Black Panthers made incredible recognition through the Panthers educational programs. With a limited number of students and staff, they found a path to teach lessons that enabled students to understand, investigate their history and meditate in social environments. Teachers were to be resources for students rather than the source of all knowledge and power.

From decades ago to life today, I want to continue this message that was established in the 1970's by the Black Panther. To educate our youth so the world can become a better place. So as a African American fighting through today's society, I will be documenting the youth at Chase Elementary School’s 365 Black performance, a diverse and inclusive celebration of Black History in Northside and that aligns with Chase school’s Harlem Renaissance and Soul of Cincinnati themes. Becoming an ambassador for this program, I will also be working hand and hand with the children, giving me the opportunity to teach this profound lesson verbally and visually through my photographs. As a final presentation of the collaboration with Chase Elementary School and Northside Business Association FotoFocus exhibition, I will be presenting a solo exhibition at Sidewinder Coffee located on the northside of Cincinnati. Showcasing from 10-15 black and white photographs of the documentation of Chase Elementary School's 365 Black performance program. Also the images will be incorporated by Chase students in a book publication and collages for the walking exhibition the student will be presenting. Students will also have the option of using the images that I have taken so they may discover inspiration through the program or present as projections for their live performance. From me to all the staff and students at Chase Elementary, to the families and volunteers involved in the 365 Black Program, and finally Fotofocus for making this all happen. This Exhibition means the world to me and hope someday this presentation and message can help shine the next individual into something brighter.

Thank You

Bruce Bennett

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